Monday, November 7, 2016

Water Taxi made in Baltimore

There are quite a few things associated with Under Armour already, from rye whiskey to a hotel in Fells Point, from Port Covington to Sparrows Point and now also Brooklyn, where today the expanding company showcased the object of their latest coup: The acquisition of the Baltimore Water Taxi company, Harbor Boating and the commission of a brand new taxi vessel made right here in Baltimore.

The first new water taxi vessel is already licensed for test rides
(Photo: Philipsen)
The new boat is made by Maritime Applied Physics Corporation (MAPC), a maritime design and manufacturing company located near the South Baltimore neighborhood of Brooklyn. The company is usually engaged in defense contracts and access requires a security check.

The ride down Frankfurst Avenue is a ride down into the fifties when Baltimore was an industrial city with miles of freight tracks, shipping yards and tractor trailers lining a bumpy four lane roadway that eventually closely hugs the Harbor Tunnel through-way.

The boat, by contrast, is modern production emulating history. Tailored after a 1920s Chesapeake bay "dead-ride" crab boat as gleaned from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum the new water taxi vessel, is made entirely from aluminum, is 55' long, 15.5' wide, has twin low emission 38 hp Beta Marine (a subsidiary of Kubota) diesel engines and holds 49 passengers. It is a more robust vessel than the pontoon boats and small vessels that Mike McDaniel had taken over from Ed Kane's widow Cameron who had run the water taxi until 2010 after her husband's death in 2004.
The current pontoon vessels
The new boats have a Chapter T license from the Coast Guard, can go 8 knots and are licensed to go out on the entire Bay. The production of the hull in Brooklyn is an expression of Plank's "local for local" concept which he is also testing for his apparel in his Lighthouse facility.

Maryland's Manufacturing Extension Partnership ("where manufacturers go for solutions") is assisting in the match-making to bring in as many as possible local suppliers for boat components not made by MAPC. The Partnership has already been tested in the build-out of Sagamore's City Garage.
Mark Rice, the President of MAPC says Kevin Plank has had his hands in every aspect of the design and was the one who sent the team first to his farm in Baltimore County to check out local architecture and then to the museum to study the heritage of the Bay and its vessels. He is also responsible for the black hull and the use of the Baltimore flag for branding.
The characteristic stern of the historic dead ride
Chesapeake crab boat (Photo: Philipsen)

Sagamore Ventures is Under Armour's business arm for ventures of everything that's not their core business, can now reach the Middle Branch and the new company headquarters via water. A trip from the new waterfront hotel at the Recreation Pier in Fells Point to the new landings at Port Covington will take about 30 minutes. The initial stop there will be the distillery currently under construction. However, things won't happen instantly.
Nathan Baugher, MAPC Production Manager, Marcus Stephens,
Plank Industries Executive Creative Director and Demian Costa,
Sagamore Ventures LLC explain the new boat
(Photo: Philipsen)

The contract with the City regarding the taxi license is finalized but is still awaiting the City signature after the Board of Estimates approved the award of the water taxi license to McDaniel/Sagamore. The new route system with Canton Crossing and Harbor East as added stops won't begin operation until April 2017. The service to the Middle Branch expected to follow later.

 After Sagamore Ventures decided to buy Harbor Boating they wasted no time and worked with MAPC to craft a 55-foot ADA-compliant, bike-friendly vessel even before the City license was approved.

The new boats are designed to allow hybrid diesel-electric or fully electric propulsion at a later point. The first boat was presented to the public today, the second is under construction and 8 more are planned. By contrast a 2014 federal grant for a $850,000 electric boat provided to the City for the free Harbor Connector shuttle service has still not resulted in an actual boat. According to Demien Costa of Sagamore Ventures, who didn't disclose the actual price, his fleet is below the cost they had expected. The BBJ reports that the actual price per boat is $635,000.
spacey interior for 49 passengers (Photo: Philipsen)
The investment into the taxi isn't a far fetched distraction for Under Armour but part of the strategy of embedding the new Port Covington headquarters into a new town which needs access and mobility in spite of its somewhat isolated location. A robust water taxi service could become a key component in the mobility strategy and also help the community of Cherry Hill across the water from Port Covington. The current draft service plan developed by Michael McDaniel who will continue the operation of the water taxi anticipates a cross water service between Cherry Hill and Port Covington in 2018.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA  updated

See also on this blog:

Next: Under Armour Water Taxi

(Photo: Philipsen)

The aluminum hull in production (Photo: Philipsen)

Aluminum cuts before welding (Photo: Philipsen)

the aluminum deck (Photo: Philipsen)

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