Leap Frog Water Taxi to offer service to San Juan Islands

Travel between Bellingham and the San Juan Islands is about to get a lot easier, thanks to a new company called Leap Frog Water Taxi.

The Port of Bellingham on Monday Oct. 3 approved a two-year lease with the company for a ticket office and dock space at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Owner Bill McGown plans to start the taxi service in spring 2012.

The idea for a water taxi arose from numerous conversations with island residents, McGown said.

“I own property out on Lopez Island and I interact with a lot of islanders out there and they need alternate transportation,” he said. “They need ways to get around that don’t rely on the roads and ferries. Even getting from Lopez to Friday Harbor can be an all-day endeavor sometimes.”

Leap Frog Water Taxi will use a 12-passenger, 32-foot aluminum boat built in 2002 by Bellingham’s own All American Marine. The vessel, named Andiamo, served as a fishing charter boat in Alaska for several years before the owners retired and the boat ended up back to Bellingham.

“It’s fuel efficient, light, and rugged as all hell,” McGown said. “We call it the ‘wave crusher’ — it’s just so strong.”

The boat is small enough to use smaller docks on islands that don’t have regular ferry service, such as Blakely Island or Sinclair Island. It can also be beached, allowing passengers to access come of the outer islands that don’t have docks, McGown said.

The water taxi will be on call and McGown is in the process of developing a program that will track the boat and show its position online so customers will be able to go to the website and see the location of the boat.

The launch of Leap Frog Water Taxi in spring 2012 will coincide with McGown’s retirement from Tabar Inc., a local glove design firm where he has worked for 17 years.

For more information about Leap Frog Water Taxi, call (360) 220-0538 or email bill@dreamboatharbor.com.

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