New water taxi in­spired by Ch­e­sa­peake his­tory

Craft re­calls crab­bing ves­sel from the 1920s

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Colin Camp­bell cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

When Un­der Ar­mour founder Kevin Plank de­cided to buy Bal­ti­more Water Taxi and up­grade its fleet of pas­sen­ger ves­sels, he sent the boat de­sign­ers on a field trip.

The­group made­the hour-and-ahalf drive to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum in St. Michaels on the East­ern Shore to re­search his­toric Mary­land boat mod­els and de­cide on a look for the new water taxis that would pay homage to the state’s her­itage.

On Mon­day, they un­veiled the first re­sult: Key’s An­them — a slick, black 55-foot Hoop­ers Is­land drake­tail boat that can carry 49 pas­sen­gers, plus a cap­tain and first mate — will makeits maiden voy­age as a water taxi in the com­ing weeks.

It was cus­tom-built by Bal­ti­more-based Mar­itime Ap­plied Physics Corp. and in­spired by a 1920s-era crab­bing ves­sel that was pop­u­lar among Ch­e­sa­peake Bay wa­ter­men.

The drake­tail (or duck­tail) model, dis­tin­guished by a long down­ward curve to­ward the stern, wasn’t quite as prac­ti­cal as more tra­di­tional fish­ing boats, but it be­came pop­u­lar mostly be­cause of its un­usual look, said Pete Lesher, the mar­itime mu­seum’s chief cu­ra­tor.

That look, he said, is likely what caught the water taxi de­sign­ers’ The water taxi Key’s An­them will have its maiden voy­age in com­ing weeks. It was crafted to re­sem­ble a vin­tage drake­tail crab­bing boat. eyes, too.

“In my es­ti­ma­tion, it is to­tally about aes­thet­ics,” Lesher said. “If you’re look­ing to at­tract pas­sen­gers … this is the thing to do.”

Nathan Baugher, pro­duc­tion man­ager at Mar­itime Ap­plied Physics in South Bal­ti­more, said the de­sign­ers “tried to take all con­sid­er­a­tion of that ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing on the water, how you ma­neu­vered on the wa­ter­ways, how they sat, as far as the bow-to-stern ra­tio and pro­por­tions.”

“[We] re­ally tai­lored that so you got the full ex­pe­ri­ence of that boat,” he said, “not only from the out­side, but from the in­side, too.”

Key’s An­them is the first of 10 ves­sels that even­tu­ally will re­place Har­bor Boat­ing’s cur­rent fleet of water taxis and go to new stops around the city, in­clud­ing Plank’s ho­tel in Fells Point and his Saga- more whiskey dis­tillery now un­der con­struc­tion in the planned $5.5 bil­lion Port Cov­ing­ton de­vel­op­ment.

It still needs a few ad­di­tional Coast Guard cer­ti­fi­ca­tions be­fore it can be­gin fer­ry­ing pas­sen­gers around the har­bor, of­fi­cials said.

The new boat is Bal­ti­morethemed from bow to stern, with a “W” logo — for water taxi — made out of the city’s black-and-yel­low check­ered flag and the lon­gi­tude and lat­i­tude of the In­ner Har­bor painted on the rear.

The in­side ceil­ing bears the out­line of Fort McHenry, and LED lights will shine at night — in­clud­ing in pur­ple or orange for Ravens andOri­oles wins. It has USB ports for phone charg­ing and bike racks in­side. The boat isn’t Wi-Fi­ca­pable yet, but that’s in the works, Baugher said.

Mar­cus Stephens, ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor at Plank In­dus­tries, said the new water taxi de­sign wasn’t only aes­thet­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

“It nav­i­gates well in shal­low water, it has the for­ward hull for the cap­tain and the crew, with a lot of space for pas­sen­gers, which was usu­ally used for cargo, crabs, oys­ters and the sort,” Stephens said.

Its twin Beta Ma­rine diesel en­gines are ca­pa­ble of mov­ing the boat at speeds up to 8 knots. Of­fi­cials hope to move to hy­brid power, then even­tu­ally to full elec­tric.

“One of the main tar­gets was to make this thing eco-friendly and cost-ef­fec­tive to op­er­ate,” Baugher said. “We didn’t throw 1,000 horse­power at it, be­cause it’s only in a 6-knot zone.”

Plank’s firm Sag­amore Ven­tures pur­chased Har­bor Boat­ing this sum­mer with plans to ex­pand the ser­vice as the city agreed to award the firm an­other long-term­con­tract to op­er­ate in the In­ner Har­bor, Fells Point, Can­ton and other wa­ter­front spots.

Demian Costa, man­ag­ing part­ner of Sag­amore Ven­tures, de­clined to say how much the boats cost to make, but said they fell well within an ini­tial $3 mil­lion or $4 mil­lion es­ti­mate for a cus­tom-built ves­sel.

Sag­amore brought on Mar­itime Ap­plied Physics to make the new boats lo­cally. The firm nor­mally builds 40-foot un­manned ves­sels for the mil­i­tary, said Mark Rice, the firm’s pres­i­dent and founder.

“That has a lot more tech­nol­ogy,” Rice said. “This has a lot more style.”

BAR­BARA HADDOCK TAY­LOR/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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