Jumping back to our rain-soaked trip to Basel of a few weeks ago, here’s a photo of a water-going vessel that takes nothing to work: No fuel, no wind, and no substantive human effort, although it does require a good current in the water.
Four of these boats (called fahri) bring passengers across the Rhine for 1.60 Euros a head. The heavy timbered boats are tethered to a line strung across the Rhine (they are spread out across the river, so there’s only one boat to a line). The captain shifts a large lever at the bow of the boat which sets it off into the current that pushes it along the line, gradually drawing the boat to the opposite shore.
The captain explained that it’s the direction of the lever that determines which way the boat will go. The boat travels at this oblique angle, which is a little weird to think of a boat that doesn’t ever go straight. The ride only takes a few minutes. Is it worth 1.60 Euros to drift across the Rhine? Sure. Why not?