Our idea of a webcam on new Bay ferryboats 'abuildin'

Two brand new boats are in the pipeline for Bay Area ferry riders one for the Golden Gate Ferry and the second for the Alameda/Oakland line. Both boats incidentally, a boat is defined as something that can be carried on a ship are being constructed by Nichols Bros. Boat Builders of Whidbey Island in Freeland, Washington.

By Bobby Winston 
Published: September, 2000

Two brand new boats are in the pipeline for Bay Area ferry riders – one for the Golden Gate Ferry and the second for the Alameda/Oakland line. Both boats – incidentally, a boat is defined as something that can be carried on a ship – are being constructed by Nichols Bros. Boat Builders of Whidbey Island in Freeland, Washington.

Matt Nichols, the gruff, straight-shooting President of the boatyard, has agreed to let Bay Crossings follow along as his company assembles the two newest commute companions for thousands of Bay Area ferry riders, boats that are destined to play the Bay for decades to come.

This story, which will play out over the estimated one year it will take to build the boats, will be a whole lot more than a nuts and bolts "How to Assemble a Ferry" story. In fact, there won’t be any nuts and bolts in it at all, since ferries these days are built more in the manner of airplanes than anything else, employing the very latest in aluminum welding techniques.

We’ll have a front row seat watching the very latest technology being put to the test of uncompromising maritime safety and reliability standards. We’ll feel the pressure as Nichols engineers work to meet high expectations for vessel speed (high), cost (low), and comfort (great). We’ll get to know the men and women on the job and share their tension as they work to meet deadlines and solve problems.

As we watch our new boats take shape, we’ll learn about the issues and opportunities of modern ferryboat construction, including cleaner engines, improved safety and more passenger amenities. Finally, when they’re ready for delivery, we’ll follow along as they make their way down the coast and into San Francisco Bay.

Nichols Bros. Boat Builders is considered to be one of the nation’s preeminent ferry builders, having built many of the ferries currently in service on San Francisco Bay.