Rich Garnett

We met Rich Garnett aboard an SF Bay Ferry working for Blue & Gold Fleet on the Vallejo-San Francisco run.

Rich Garnett’s favorite part of being a deckhand for San Francisco Bay Ferry is providing quality customer service.

BY MATT LARSON

 

We met Rich Garnett aboard an SF Bay Ferry working for Blue & Gold Fleet on the Vallejo-San Francisco run. He’s soon to celebrate two years with Blue & Gold, approaching three years in the field. He didn’t necessarily expect to be working the Bay’s waterways, but a friend suggested the notion, and Garnett never looked back.

 

While Garnett was working as an operations manager for a major bike rental company at the Fisherman’s Wharf area, he met Andrew Clark, a now-former employee of Red & White Fleet. Clark brought Garnett on board, and that’s when he learned about the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, or IBU. “I didn’t even know that it existed before Red & White Fleet,” he said. After about nine months with Red & White, he started working for Blue & Gold.

 

As a deckhand, he said, the views of the Bay Area are nearly impossible to beat. “The sunsets are gorgeous. The sunrises are gorgeous. The landscape, the water, the wildlife—there’s a lot of eye candy while I’m working,” Garnett said. “It’s never the same when you go out there on the Bay; the weather, the sunsets, the changing of the sky, the currents. Sometimes you’ll see the fog rolling over the hills in Marin, sometimes the light is just right on the Golden Gate, all of it is just gorgeous.”

 

Garnett’s favorite part of the job, however, is not so much those spectacular views, but the service he’s providing for his Bay Area neighbors. “I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I’m helping to alleviate a big traffic congestion problem,” he said. “I know it’s not an ‘Oh, it’s fixed!’ solution, but I’m helping to solve that problem.” And he gets to do so as part of some very awesome crews.

 

“It’s a team of three deckhands; we share the workload, try to make it even for everybody, and every week we rotate, so there’s a lot of camaraderie,” he said. Garnett and his fellow deckhands take pride in their work, and everything is done with the passenger in mind. “When you take a flight somewhere and you have a great crew on board, for example, that makes all the difference in the world in terms of how you enjoy it—how relaxed you are, how comfortable you are, how confident you are in that crew.”

 

Garnett always tries to give his passengers the best trip possible with every run they take. “I know they have options out there: BART, Uber, Caltrain, driving. I feel like our product is superior, and I want to also deliver a superior experience from a crew standpoint.”

 

Originally from south Florida, Garnett now lives in Vallejo, and has lived in the Bay Area since 2011, including six years in San Francisco’s North Beach. “I’m very glad I made that move,” he said. “I kind of wish I had done it sooner! A younger me would have really gotten to enjoy the Bay Area a little bit more than the older me.” But he still finds plenty of activity in the Bay to keep himself entertained outside of work.

 

A world traveler and self-proclaimed coffee snob, Garnett can most often be found just exploring all that the Bay Area has to offer. “There are so many great areas, I feel like it’s an endless menu,” he said. “Every weekend I try to go somewhere new or do something different.”

 

Often, he’ll be exploring these areas on his Transition-brand full-suspension mountain bike, with Pacifica being his favorite spot. “You get to some high elevations up there and can even see a 360-degree vista.”

 

It’s all about good vibes, and Garnett highly recommends taking the ferry if at all possible. “You can get up, stretch your legs at any time, use a restroom, you’ve got a bar and a real selection of snacks, no other option even comes close when you compare the costs with the value,” he said. “You might think I’d be biased—but these are facts.”