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Whidbey, Seattle boatyards' new eco-friendly ferry

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By Yoshiaki Nohara
Herald Writer
  • Bob Dippold of Small Planet Adventures in Lake Stevens walks on a dock next to the Pisces, an eco-friendly ferry built in this area for use in San Fra...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Bob Dippold of Small Planet Adventures in Lake Stevens walks on a dock next to the Pisces, an eco-friendly ferry built in this area for use in San Francisco.

EVERETT -- A new environmentally friendly ferry made by two local firms is set to leave Everett for its new home in San Francisco today.
The $8 million passenger ferry was built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island and Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle. The boat's exhaust is much cleaner than emission standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Michael Bennett, owner of Small Planet, an Everett-based consulting firm.
"Probably, this is the most environmentally friendly ferry in the nation," Bennett said Wednesday.
This is the second boat that Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, of Freeland, and Kvichak Marine Industries have built for the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, a state agency, said Bryan Nichols, vice president of sales and marketing of Nichols Brothers. The first boat was delivered in late 2008, and two additional boats are expected to be shipped to San Francisco later this year.
"In our back yard, people are coming to us for this technology," Bennett said. "We just need to get a political and popular will" in Washington state.
The ferry holds up to 149 passengers and 34 bicycles; it's expected to arrive in San Francisco on Saturday, Bennett said. The boat incorporates a process called selective catalytic reduction, and it uses a blend of biodiesel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel, substantially reducing emissions.
The ferry also has two solar panels on its bridge deck and provides Wi-Fi Internet access to passengers, according to Bennett. Its sonar is designed to avoid whale strikes and floating debris, and its hull is made to reduce fuel consumption and the impact of wakes.
"The demand is growing" for environmentally friendly ferries, Nichols said. "On the commercial side, there's an expense that goes with that."
Government rules for ferries are also evolving, taking environmental impacts into account, Nichols said.
"It's good for us to be ahead of the curve," he said.
Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029,
Story tags » Whidbey IslandFerries



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