What is the appropriate verb to use if you get somewhere by ship (I mean as a passenger, not as a crew member)?
Can you say:
"I got onto the ferry, and went to the island?"
"I got onto the ferry, and drove to the island?"
or something else entirely?
The verb is 'sail', even when the ship has no sails.
When does the QE2 sail for New York?
On a little ship like a ferry (between islands, across estuaries) it would feel odd to say 'sail'. You'd say something like 'We took/caught the ferry across the N' (But even that sort of ferry refers, in time-tables, to 'sailings': 'There are hourly sailings between 09.00 and 17.00.') For an even smaller ferry - say a man in a rowing boat - the time-table would probably refer to a 'service' rather than a 'sailing'.
On a sea-going ferry - say Dover-Calais - the passengers 'sail'.