All aboard! Ferry Fundraiser Makes Waves

The original relics are under restoration

Michael Rex's rendering of how the artifacts will be displayed

Victoria Colello inspects the rendering

  1. to r.: Dona, Judyth, Michael, Victoria, Roberta and Julie with RBMA Mission Statement  |  photos by Privette  |  post by Julie Durbin and Larry Clinton

The Charles Van Damme spent 40 years as a working ferry and 25 years as the social hub of the Waldo Point waterfront. She appeared in several feature films and was a unique magnet for the rich and famous, the up and coming, and even the down and out. In 1983 the ferry was demolished leaving just the paddlewheel and smokestack.

A free event on Sunday October 15 informed the public of how the relics will be restored for permanent public display in Waldo Point Park through the efforts of the Richardson’s Bay Maritime Association (RBMA), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit with support from the Floating Homes Association (FHA).

Michael Rex, president of the RBMA and architect of the project, was present to share the state and county approved plans. Other organizers included Judyth Greenburgh, Dona Schweiger, Roberta Malloy, Julie Durbin and new team member Victoria Colella.

The restored paddlewheel and smokestack will be on a raised platform on the site where the ferry was grounded off Gate 6 Road. Interpretive signs will tell the story of this much-loved vessel during her nine distinct incarnations spanning more than 100 years.

Live music at the event was performed by The Diatomics, The Jims and The Hippie Voices—featuring two members of the original Redlegs band who performed on the old ferry:  Joe Tate and Maggie Catfish. Maggie also kindly donated her artwork for a limited-edition mug, which was available with a donation of $50 or more.

Hundreds of dollars were raised in a silent auction for prizes donated by Waterfront Wonders on Caledonia, Barrel House restaurant, Angelino’s Bayside Café, Lashout on Chestnut Street in San Francisco, Sacred Style salon, Call of the Sea, Katya on Caledonia Street and Dōna Design. Michael Rex donated two bottles of wine including a very rare 2021 Cote de Nuits Villages, and an estate tasting for 6 at Deerfield Ranch Winery as well as a bottle of Chestnut Farms Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey. Thanks to the donors and congratulations to the lucky winners.

This event was attended by both old and new waterfront residents providing an opportunity for the community to reminisce and learn anew.

With pledges for 70% of the $400k needed to complete the project, The RBMA is currently fundraising for the last 30%. Donors gifting $10k or more have the opportunity for their names to be immortalized along with the Charles Van Damme Ferry’s artifacts on the public exhibit.

Visit the RBMA website to donate or learn more about upcoming events and online campaigns.

Your tax-deductible donation will enable the RBMA to share over 100 years of local waterfront history as a public display, inspiring generations to come.