While the operator of the Blue and Gold fleet has applied to discontinue its service from San Francisco to Angel Island due to the COVID-19 health emergency, another operator wants the public to know it is continuing to serve tourists and those seeking a recreation getaway on the historic location in the middle of the Bay.
The Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry in Marin County is offering trips on a reduced schedule of Saturdays and Sundays, and intends to continue, said Maggie McDonogh, known as Captain Maggie.
The Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry is the last family-owned operator, started by Milton McDonogh in 1959 and now in its fifth generation.
"We feel it's our duty to make it easier for people to get together safely," Maggie McDonogh said. "I think it's important for the public to know we are operating."
The service makes three trips to Angel Island and four trips back each Saturday and Sunday. The boats are certified to carry 400 people, but capacity is being limited to 100 during the pandemic.
Service from Tiburon had shut down at the onset of the pandemic but resumed in July.
"Extreme safety protocols" are followed and all passengers are required to wear masks, McDonogh said.
Some visitors come to Angel Island for the history. The Angel Island Immigration Station was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997 and is often thought of as the Ellis Island of the West, with over 500,000 people from 80 different countries processed and detained there.
But the island's natural setting is also an attraction, currently boasting a pair of nesting adult bald eagles and a juvenile, as well as harbor seals and even a coyote, McDonogh said.
"When you go to this island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, you're in a beautiful serene place and you can only get there by boat," she said, noting that the views coming and going on clear days are also memorable.
Ferry tickets must be pre-purchased and are available online at angelislandferry.com.
"I'm sorry to see Blue and Gold stop, but it’s hard for everybody during COVID," McDonogh said.