Vallejo Baylink, the San Francisco Bay community’s municipal commuter operation that was initiated five years ago, is now carrying some 800, passengers a year. With thousands of miles on the operation’s first catamaran ferry, originally known as the “Jet Cat Express,” an InCat vessel built by Gladding Hearn Shipbuilding, Vallejo Baylink management
decided to send the well-used boat to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders’ Washington yard for a complete rebuild.
In December, after nine months in Nichols Brothers’ Whidbey Island yard, the thoroughly renovated and enlarged vessel headed back home with a new name: M/V Vallejo.
Marty Robbins, general manager of Vallejo Baylink, said that while the bulk of the passengers carried are commuters between the northern San Francisco bay communities
and San Francisco, the three vessels operated by Vallejo also carry tourists. He also said that Vallejo has issued a Request for Proposal for a fourth vessel, which he expects to have in service in September 2003.
The catamaran was replated in part and enlarged by 15 ft. to accommodate new waterjet drives. The refurbished vessel is now 110 ft. and will carry 301 passengers. The interior of the vessel was completely refurbished with new seats from Beurteaux and new furnishings.
New engines are Detroit Diesel MTU12V4000 with ZF BWX 755 reduction gears. New jet drives involve HM 721 Hamilton equipment. Nichols raised the wheelhouse and reequipped it. Workers added new insulation and replaced the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC). The Alaska Diesel Electric generators were also rebuilt.
The rebuilding project took six months, Bryan Nichols
, vice president of marketing, said. The vessel was inspected and recertified by the U.S. Coast Guard. The rehabilitation was engineered by International Catamaran Designs of Australia, he said. Nichols has now built 29 of the InCat catamarans under license, with the latest new vessel, the M/V Peralta delivered to the Alameda/Oakland Ferry Service in November.
Nichols brothers this year also delivered the new M/V Jet Cat Express to Catalina Express Lines in Long Beach and San Pedro, Calif., as well as the M/V Mendocino to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Current projects include a 105-ft. fireboat for the City of Los Angeles, expected to be delivered in November 2002, and a 360-ft. stern-wheel cruise boat expected to be delivered to American West Steamboat in 18 months for service in Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.