Perhaps nobody knew more about ferries than Bernie Jacobson. Over his maritime career, he was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, general manager of North Ferry Company on New York’s Long Island, head of his marine consulting firm, IBJ Associates, and a columnist for WorkBoat for about eight years. Sadly, Bernie lost his battle with cancer early last year.
Now the Passenger Vessel Association is honoring Bernie. The PVA gave out the one-time Bernie Jacobson Ferry Safety Award at the association’s annual convention in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday. Fittingly, NY Waterway, Circle Line Sightseeing, and Nelseco Navigation were the recipients of the award because of their efforts in rescuing passengers after a U.S. Air jet was forced to land in New York’s Hudson River. After the landing in the river, over 140 people were taxied to safety by passenger vessels.
“We thought it was fitting,” said John Groundwater, PVA’s executive director. “That event was such a one-of-a-kind thing, and that’s what Bernie was, too.”
“It’s a good fit,” said Bill Clark of South Ferry Co., which, along with Bernie’s North Ferry operation, connected Shelter Island to Long Island’s North and South Forks. “Bernie contributed so much to the ferry industry over the years.”
Any number of times over those years as I sat in on the Ferry Conference at the PVA convention, a question would be asked following a speaker’s presentation. Confidently, the speaker would answer the question, pause a moment, then look at the back of the room where Bernie was and say, “Isn’t that right, Bernie?”
You bet it’s right.