Cruising “green” in 2009

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A California regional government agency and private company each recently unveiled fuel-efficient ferries for use in San FranciscoBay.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s multihulled ferry is called Gemini because of its hybrid of solar energy and biodiesel. At 118 feet, she can go up to 25 knots and carry 149 passengers, and her design helps protect the bay and marine life with her low-wake, low-wash hulls, and forward-searching sonar for avoiding whale strikes, according to www.watertransit.org. Gemini also has room for 34 bicycles and includes a wash area for the bikes. The vessel was christened Dec. 12 and will be put into service next month to run on the Alameda/Oakland route.

Alcatraz Cruises has introduced Hornblower Hybrid, a 64-foot ferry that can hold 149 passengers and operates at 10 knots. It uses a combination of diesel-powered Tier 2 generators, electric motors, wind turbines and solar panels that will power all the functions of the vessel, including navigation systems and lighting, according to www.alcatrazcruises.com/hybrid. The vessel was purchased in early 2008 and nearly 90 percent of her has been retrofitted.

Other “green” amenities on Hornblower include carpeting containing post-consumer recycled materials, countertops made from pieces of recycled vodka bottles, and LED light fixtures illuminating the main deck and pilothouse. A reception for the vessel was held Tuesday and she will begin transporting passengers to and from AlcatrazIsland in the next few months.

— Elizabeth Ellis