This Is Home: Captain Bo pilots the Sistersville Ferry

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 6:14 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - For more than two hundred years, a ferry has carried passengers across the Ohio River from what is now Sistersville, West Virginia and Fly, Ohio. Many have captained the ferry, even more have been passengers. The latest captain has returned after the ferry closed for over a year. Back at the helm for his eighth year is a 30 year Coast Guard veteran, who has spent most of his life driving boats.

His name is Bo Hause, and he has been driving boats professionally for 40 years.

“Been running the ferry for eight years. I love it,” said Hause.

Captain Hause says he can drive a boat better than he can drive a truck.

A military man, Hause spent from 1982 to 2011 in the Coast Guard. He reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer and says he’d rather work in the military than in any civilian job. He had to be told to retire.

“I joined in 1982. You’re probably too young to remember, but people who remember it, it was when Reagan was taking over the president in 1980, there was rumor of a draft because we had hostages in Iran. and I thought well hell, I’m not getting drafted. I’m joining the service I want to. So I joined the Coast Guard. I never even planned on getting out. They told me to get out 30 years later,” said Hause.

That said, he enjoys his time captaining the Sistersville Ferry.

Hause grew up in New Jersey, but his wife of thirteen years is from the Mountain State. After they met and he retired, she brought him home to West Virginia. She wasn’t sure he would like it.

“When I was retiring and getting ready to move to St. Marys from Virginia where I was stationed. She asked me after my retirement party: ‘Are you going to be OK?’ And I said why? ‘Cause we’re moving from the coast to the mountains,’ and I said yea babe, why? There’s a river. As long as I have woods and some kind of water I’ll be fine, because I’m an outdoors-man.”

It didn’t take him long to find the water.

“He retired from the Coast Guard in December of 2011 and my daughter was the editor of the newspaper in Sistersville. She heard the ferry job was going to be open, so she called him up and he said sure I will.”

In 2018, Hause left his job as the ferry’s pilot to find steadier work. Sistersville couldn’t find a qualified pilot to take his place and the ferry service shut down for over a year.

“People in town kept asking me when I’m coming back,” said Hause. “I said I can’t come back to a seasonal job and leave a full time job with benefits. So the town agreed to hire me full time.”

Hause says he could be making a lot more money with his credentials at another job, but he was happy to come back when the City of Sistersville found him full time work.

“I think his love for the ferry brought him back, to some personal sacrifice,” said Eric Peterson, Executive Director of the Tyler County Development Authority.

“Like I said, you give the man a boat, he’s in seventh heaven,” said Sue Hause, Bo’s wife..

Hause is a stranger to no one. Other than being outdoors, one of his favorite parts about being ferry captain is meeting new people.

“The only stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet,” said Hause.

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