More than 30 years after starting its career on San Francisco Bay, the fast catamaran ferry Zelinsky was back in action this week, chartered for a tech firm’s promotional campaign to New Yorkers.
The software engineering firm Mozilla hired the 86.4’x31.2’x7’, 400-passenger Zelinsky from Hornblower Metro Fleet LLC to provide a free ferry service over three days — complete with coffee and doughnuts — between the Greenpoint terminal in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
The 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. half-hour runs targeted the New York audience, from Manhattan office workers to Brooklyn’s young and tech-savvy population. With twin Caterpillar 3512 engines, each turning 1,950 hp at 1,800 rpm, the Zelinsky has a top speed of 26 knots.
Built in 1986 as the Dolphin by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Freeland, Wash., the Zelinsky was renamed in 1997 for Edward Zelinsky, a local civic benefactor and maritime history buff in Tiburon, Calif., where the boat was operated on a ferry route for years by the Blue & Gold Fleet, San Francisco.
Hornblower brought the boat to New York in early 2017. But soon after obtaining a new certificate of inspection that April, the Zelinsky suffered damage to its port side lazerette after striking a submerged object near Jamaica Bay.
That left the ferry laid up for repairs at a Hudson River shipyard — as Hornblower’s subsidiary HNY Ferry Fleet LLC struggled to keep up with crowds on the highly successful NYC Ferry public routes.
But by late summer the Zelinsky was back in the harbor, tied up in Jersey City. Hornblower officials have said the refurbished ferry could have a role in its charter or dinner cruise business lines as well. With demand for ferry and charter services strong and growing in the New York region, the Zelinsky could be around for some time to come.