A private company that specializes in sailboat cruises has approached the Golden Gate Bridge transit district about replacing the agency’s diesel-ferry fleet with new wind-powered catamaran vessels, starting with a possible test run of the technology in April.Read more at the San Francisco Examiner
Wind + Wing Technologies, a Napa company, claims it can build catamaran sailboats able to handle the passenger load of commuting ferry systems, while also reducing carbon emissions and saving the agencies money on fuel costs. One vessel proposed by the company could accommodate up to 750 passengers and travel at 17 knots (about 20 mph), and it would cut down both fuel expenses and carbon emissions by 40 percent.
The proposed vessels would still use diesel fuel, but they would be powered primarily by a towering vertical mast — called a wing — that could rotate 360 degrees to capture the swirling Bay winds, according to Jay Gardner, one of the founders of Wind + Wing Technologies.
Gardner’s other company, Adventure Cat, uses the same wing technology, which also is employed by America’s Cup racers, to take visitors on sailing tours across the Bay.
“We do this 330 days a year, so we know this plan can work,” Gardner said, adding that a typical wing for a ferry boat would rise 110 feet. The proposed catamaran vessel would only be used to ferry passengers from Sausalito to San Francisco.
While the bridge district, which runs daily service from Larkspur and Sausalito to San Francisco, is interested in the proposal, it still has questions about the catamarans’ maneuverability and reliability, agency spokeswoman Mary Currie said.
To ease those concerns, the two sides would engage in a six-month demo project, using a scaled-down catamaran already built by the Navy. Starting in April, a 50-foot catamaran operated by Wind + Wing employees and using bridge district facilities could make daily trips with no passengers from San Francisco to Sausalito.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Sailing Is at the Cutting Edge of (Transportation) Technology?
Good news is such a rarity in these days, you just feel compelled to pump up the amplifier when it comes your way: