Letters to the Editor

As a San Francisco native naval architect now in exile from the Bay Area, I was interested to find your magazine on the internet and read some of the back issues.

Published: November, 2001

Dear Editor:

As a San Francisco native naval architect now in exile from the Bay Area, I was interested to find your magazine on the internet and read some of the back issues.

I was most interested in the article about building ferries in the Bay Area, (August 2000) as it always kind of bothered me that friends in Washington State referred to the California initiatives for ferries as the "California Taxpayer Funded Full Employment for Seattle Shipyards Act", especially since Washington state has a law forbidding purchase of ships from out of state for their ferry system.

Please be assured that fast ferry construction is feasible and potentially profitable in the Bay Area. There are many new techniques and technologies that make ship construction, especially small ship construction, more cost effective than ever. I was chief naval architect at a small shipyard near Seattle building aluminum boats, including fast ferries, when we began to introduce some of these techniques. In one fiscal year we had tripled our volume and profits. Most of these techniques depend on CAD, especially AutoCAD, and other computer applications, so the Bay Area workforce is uniquely suited to take advantage of these techniques.

I would also like to note that fast ferry construction does not really require substantial waterfront property. Our shipyard was several hundred yards from the waterfront and was not unique in that regard. Some shipyards are much farther from the water. One Southern builder is nearly ninety miles from the nearest navigable body of water. There are numerous suitable properties for fast ferry construction in the Bay Area.

Finally I would like to remark that a well run, technologically advanced shipyard specializing in small ships can be quite profitable. Our shipyard’s nominal book value was about a million dollars but we made over a million dollars profit on about twelve million in volume a year despite paying wages competitive with Boeing for our labor. (Dot com that!)

Community leaders and entrepreneurs, with the uniquely talented Bay Area workforce, have a real opportunity to take advantage of the need for fast ferries in the Bay Area with new, creative business initiatives and the best of modern shipbuilding practices. All it takes is the will to do so.

Christopher D. Barry, P.E.

Baltimore MD

Dear Editor,

Amidst our nation’s recent sorrow, Bay Crossings was the catalyst for some good news. I was reunited with a longtime sailing friend after she read my column, Bay Environment. Michele St. Pierre and I used to race the Bay together on all-women’s teams in the 1980s. We lost touch a dozen years ago when she left the area, but has returned. Recently we spent a day together up in Sonoma, where I live. But even our reunion was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks. Her brother narrowly escaped the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He was on the 30th floor and fled his office with only a laptop, leaving his fledging financial business in tatters. Family and friendship means more than ever in these uncertain times.

Teri Shore