We knew nothing about these little boats until we spotted one of them just outside our window and watched it as it went to and fro across the river all day. Looking at a map, we spotted four of them, small, frequent and as well-patronised as the traghetti of Venice, they are attached to an overhead cable - just as well bearing in mind the strength of the current downstream. But then we read more about these "Basel anachronisms" and discovered there's more to them than meets the eye!
Powered across the river simply by the flow of water, the ingenuity of the system is just brilliant. We had to try it for ourselves, so this morning, we set off downstairs and along the river bank a couple of hundred metres and stepped on board. At CHF 1.60 per person, this was a bargain ride.
As we arrived at the jetty, the little boat was on the opposite bank for the river, but no sooner had the ferryman spotted us, than he was heading over in our direction. We were the only two passengers on this occasion, but except for seeing us on board safely, sliding the rudder into the opposite direction and giving the boat a push off, there was nothing for the "Faehrimaa" to do. As we crossed the river, we enjoyed the little rhyme in Schwyzertuetsch - especially with the little mention of the "Faehrifrauen" too!
(If my command of Schwyzertuetsch was rather better, I'd attempt a translation, but suffice to say, be patient and hang on tight!)
So, with the boat angled at 45 degrees to the flow of the river, we were gently pushed to the other side where the ferryman of the Vogel Griff could follow us up the wooden jetty and resume his coffee break!