A ‘ferry’ big problem: NYC commuter boat gets wedged on East Side pier

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An NYC Ferry was trapped between the 34th Street pier and the esplanade on April 23rd.
Photo by Dean Moses

One NYC Ferry boat wound up being stuck between a rock and a hard place — or at least a hefty current and a wooden pier — on Friday.

A Friday evening rush hour voyage swiftly turned into a watery fiasco when the commuter ferry became wedged between a dock and the esplanade on East 34th Street at around 6:30 p.m. on April 23. 

The strong current jackknifed the NYC Ferry. Photo by Dean Moses

The Cyclone Shark’s trip back and forth across the East River was disrupted when, according to an NYC Ferry worker, the boat was abruptly caught up in the current and jackknifed. Riders aboard the vessel were instructed to remain seated, as staff frantically scrambled to rectify the situation.

Members of the FDNY, NYPD, and EMS swarmed the scene, with some firefighters decked out in wetsuits. First responders remained on standby while a second ferry approached, preparing a hefty line. The rope was cast and following a 45 minute battle, the Cyclone Shark was tugged free, allowing it to dock safely.

Passengers emerged a little shaken, but otherwise unharmed.

“We just got stuck. The current apparently was really strong so I guess it pushed us and we were not at the dock at all,” Elissa Castles said after being trapped on the ship for almost an hour.

Members of the FDNY assess the situation. Photo by Dean Moses

“They kept trying to get a rope to pull us out and they couldn’t because of the tide,” added Castles, a flight attendant who knows what it’s like to experience travel delays. 

For Nora and Frederick, it was more an entertaining inconvenience than a daunting experience. 

“We don’t even really know what happened. They didn’t give us any information, they just told us to say inside,” Frederick said upon exiting the ship. “I think they probably just bumped the pier. I really don’t know. Maybe the walkway wasn’t down,” he added. 

Nora simply smirked; she is well acquainted with ships, as a sailor and is certified to drive boats in New York. 

“We weren’t given any information as to what was going on. I thought it was amusing and very confusing,” Nora said, adding, “So I kind of had fun just watching them drive around and I probably could have taken care of it.”

FDNY was prepared with wetsuits. Photo by Dean Moses
The situation on 34th Street pier lasted for about 45 minutes. Photo by Dean Moses