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.

It was all part of a marketing push for Mozilla’s new Firefox Quantum web browser that launched Nov. 14.

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.

The ferry Zelinsky in the colors of former operators Blue & Gold Fleet in San Francisco. Pinnacle Marine brokerage photo.

The ferry Zelinsky in the colors of former operators Blue & Gold Fleet in San Francisco. Pinnacle Marine brokerage photo.

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.


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.