Nichols launches new catamaran

"The Mendocino passenger-only ferry was launched from Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland on Wednesday. Following final outfitting the boat will be delivered by Nichols' crew to San Francisco.Gayle Saran/staff photoNichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland launched the catamaran Mendocino on Wednesday. It is the second of three passenger-carrying vessels the company is building this year. The first is already in service between San Diego and Catalina Island, and the third boat is scheduled for delivery to the San Francisco area in October. The Mendocino is a high-speed, passenger-only ferry. It's in its final phase of outfitting in Langley and faces a week of sea trials in Puget Sound before heading to its permanent base with the Golden Gate Bridge Authority in San Francisco.The new catamaran will provide service from Larkspur to the main passenger ferry terminal in San Francisco, about a 15-minute run under the Golden Gate Bridge.The Mendocino is designed to carry about 400 passengers. It is 141 feet long by 34 feet wide and 40 feet high. It can travel about 50 miles per hour.The Mendocino and other passenger-only catamarans are designed like luxurious motor coaches that provide alternative commuter transportation, said Hap Richardson, project manager for Nichols Brothers. They offer a tremendous alternative to commuting by car. The Washington State passenger-only ferry Tyee was built by Nichols.Nichols Brothers began building the multi-hulled catamarans for ferry service in 1985. Since then they have completed about 30 vessels. The company also provides training for crews of the new boats. "

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