About our Project
Save | Restore | Exibit
The Charles Van Damme Ferry, built in 1916, was a ferryboat for 40 years, bringing passengers, cars & cattle to many Bay Area communities. After her transport service ended, the ferry continued in other storied incarnations, connecting a whole new waterfront generation celebrating the arts, music and food.
From 1940 through the ‘80’s the ferry was the “town hall” for artists of all stripes. The Charles Van Damme housed the Ark Nightclub in the late ’60’s, featuring many of the emerging rock bands, acts included Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan and Santana.
Juanita Musson launched her legendary Juanita’s restaurant there, feeding rich and poor and stirring up controversy galore. Writers, painters, poets, sculptors, dancers and musicians moved to the Sausalito waterfront houseboat community looking to live and create alongside and on the great old beached Ferry.
Thirty-ﬁve years ago, 1983, the boat had become badly deteriorated and was demolished by order of Marin County. But through the determined eﬀorts of local citizens, the original paddle wheel, smokestack and other artifacts were saved.
Our group, the Charles Van Damme Ferry Project, a sub-committee of our non-proﬁt sponsor, The Richardson’s Bay Maritime Association (RBMA), is now embarking on the ﬁnal phases of our eﬀort to create a public home for the vessel’s paddle wheel and smokestack.
This permanent display will be located where the ferryboat last stood at Gate 5 Road in the Waldo Point Harbor Park in Sausalito. Surrounding the display will be signage depicting the Charles Van Damme’s unique history, educating & inspiring a new generation of fans to maritime and artistic culture.
We have secured and stored the wheel, stack and artifacts. We have an approved location, detailed architectural plans and acceptable bids from skilled builders and acquired all the required permits to begin this project. We have gathered images & historical evidence to support her stories
We have secured and stored the wheel and stack. We have an approved location, detailed architectural plans and acceptable bids from skilled builders. Plus we have obtained from the County of Marin a Building Permit for construction. With these accomplishments now ﬁrmly in place, our committee, led by the architect for the project, Michael Rex, has begun a rigorous fundraising eﬀort to fund the construction of the display.
We estimate the cost of our Charles Van Damme Ferry Project at approximately three hundred and ﬁfty thousand dollars. We are raising funds and securing volunteer services simultaneously, oﬀsetting the cash requirements with donated materials and labor.
The location of the landmark will be Waldo Point Harbor, one of the most famous houseboat communities in the world. Even now, with little public or tour bus parking, hundreds of people come every day to see the unique and colorful Sausalito houseboats they have heard so much about.
The Charles Van Damme Ferry Exhibit will furnish another important piece of Sausalito’s history for local residents and visitors. Reminding all of us of our unique city and surrounding area, it will pay respect to a bygone maritime era and the ongoing waterfront life surrounding the arts and creative pursuits.
By celebrating this hub of transport and creativity, we will encourage residents and visitors to continue the fantastic creative spirit of the Sausalito waterfront. The Charles Van Damme Ferry once again will serve as an important cultural icon.
We are nearly there!
Help maintain over 100yrs of waterfront history to inspire generations to come.
With the donation of your time, money, expertise and support we will succeed in saving, restoring and displaying a rare and important local maritime and cultural icon to inspire both present and future generations to come.
A Brief History
The 9 Lives of the Charles Van Damme Ferry
– a unique waterfront story
– a unique waterfront story