published Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam christens new ferry

Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam, left, takes a tour of the ferry boat Patience with Commissioner of Transportation John Schroer after its christening Friday at the Serodino Shipyard in Guild, Tenn. Haslam christened the boat with Tennessee wine. The boat will replace a 32-year-old ferry operating in Cumberland City, Tenn.
Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam, left, takes a tour of the ferry boat Patience with Commissioner of Transportation John Schroer after its christening Friday at the Serodino Shipyard in Guild, Tenn. Haslam christened the boat with Tennessee wine. The boat will replace a 32-year-old ferry operating in Cumberland City, Tenn.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

GUILD, Tenn. -- The first lady needed a second crack at it. Crissy Haslam stood at the front of a freshly painted ferry on Friday afternoon at the Serodino Shipyard, where a group of about 100 waited for her to christen the new boat.

The ferry is named Patience, and the wife of Gov. Bill Haslam had just swung a bottle of wine against it. It cracked a little and a small amount of wine seeped out. But not much.

About five shipyard workers spent about five months, off and on, building Patience, which they completed last month for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. After the ferry was built, they spent another month or so fine-tuning its engine and steering mechanism and painting the boat. And after that, Patience was prepared for action.

Today, the ferry and its barge will start a 10-day journey from the shipyard in Guild to Cumberland City, Tenn., where it will replace a 32-year-old Cumberland River ferry and a 36-year-old barge.

TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said the department operates two ferries. This one comes out of a $3 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration. The other, the Benton-Houston ferry, runs across the Tennessee River between Benton and Houston counties.

TDOT officials asked their employees to name the newest ferry. Stephen Delashmitt with the Office of Highway Beautification submitted Patience.

"It's a ferry," he said. "That's what it's about: patience."

Said Schroer: "I thought it was actually named after a Guns N' Roses song. I know you're all surprised that I know who Guns N' Roses are."

In about 10 days, once it arrives where it is supposed to be, the ferry will carry people and their cars across the Cumberland River. Most often, it will be used by employees of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Cumberland City Steam Plant.

But before all that: A christening.

Haslam was nervous. She had never done this before. She didn't know what to expect, but she thought it would be more dramatic than the results of her first swing. So she gripped the bottle again, swung it again, and cracked it again.

The bottle opened a little more and the wine sprayed a little more, and that was that. Nothing too dramatic. Then Haslam and Schroer toured the boat with Pete Serodino of Serodino Shipyard, and others in attendance soon followed.

"You did a beautiful job on this boat," she told the shipyard employees. "I can't imagine. I know nothing about building a boat. I might could have painted something. That's about it. That's about all I could have done."

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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