Family owned and operated since 1959, the Angel Island – Tiburon Ferry Company has a rich local history.
Samuel McDonogh originally made a living by hunting water fowl on McDonogh Island in Petaluma. He sold ducks to the poultry markets in San Francisco.
When the railroad came to Tiburon, so did McDonogh, when he opened McDonogh’s Chowder Boarding House. Here he catered to both visitors and railroad workers. Sam married and had four children, one of whom was Sam McDonogh II. McDonogh II started a launch rental where he transported supplies and personnel for the military stationed on Angel Island. At one point, he was the only civilian authorized to go to Angel Island.
The locals fondly referred to him as “Sammy the Skiffman.” Sam also took vacationers who arrived in Tiburon by train or ferry on fishing excursions. For $0.25 you would receive bait, tackle, and be towed to the fishing grounds. He also ran the marine shuttle service between the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge when it was under construction.
Sam’s son Milton not only helped run his father’s launch business but began the Angel Island Ferry service in 1959. Milton started the ferry service by converting an old navy launch vessel that could carry a maximum of 50 people. He named it the Gaycin after his little nieces, Gail and Cindy. So, with the Gaycin, the Angel Island Ferry Service was born. On that first day, Milton made a total of $7. Throughout the years Milton had several vessels starting with a large gondola-type vessel name Margarits. However, as his business increased, Milton decided to build a boat suited specially for the operation.
Milton oversaw the design and construction of the Angel Island, which was launched in April of 1975. This boat has been taking thousands of happy visitors to Angel Island ever since.
Milton’s daughter Maggie has continued to operate Milton’s business. She not only offers ferry service to Angel Island, but they have recently added a new luxury vessel to their fleet: The Tamalpais is available for all kinds of private charters.
With the birth of Maggie’s son Sam and her daughter Becky, the McDonoghs are five generations of family tradition in Tiburon and look forward to serving the community for many years to come.
This photo from 1930 shows five dories being pulled by a single cylinder vessel known as a “one-lunger” operateed by Sam McDonogh II. Sam McDonough II was fondly referred to as “Sammy the Skiffman.” Sam took vacationers who arrived in Tiburon by train or ferry on fishing excursions. For $0.25 you would receive bait, tackle, and be towed to the fishing grounds. Additionally, sam McDonogh II started a launch rental where he transported supplies and personnel for the military stationed on Angel Island. At one point, he was the only civilian authorized to go to Angel Island.
Sam McDonogh II, father of Milton McDonogh, was crucial to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge often ferrying workers between the two towers. This phot, taken in 1936, shows Sam McDonogh (far left), Milton McDonogh (middle) and Uncle Jerry on the scaffold of the Golden Gate Bridge.
This photo from the 1940’s shows “The Ark” on the left which would later become the offices for the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry. The structure on the right was known as Williamson garage.
Milton McDonogh founded the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry. A man of incredible dedication, he rarely ever took time off from his business which was his passion.
Milton oversaw the design and construction of the Angel Island, pictured here, which was launched in April of 1975. At the time of this photo, the vessel was green with silver trim. The boat would come to be lovingly termed “The Green Cloud” until it took on a different and current color scheme seen today. This boat has been taking thousands of happy visitors to Angel Island ever since.
Milton McDonogh operating the Angel Island on a return trip to Tiburon.
The Gaycin photographed in the late 1960’s. The name “Gaycin” is derived from Milton McDonogh’s two nieces named Gail and Cindy. The Gaycin was a converted navy launch vessel that could carry a maximum of 50 people.
The Margherita was one vessel used to ferry passengers from Tiburon to Angel Island. The boat was originally used as a safari boat at the ;local amusement park Marine World Africa USA located in nearby Vallejo.
Powerful winter storms slammed the California coast on December 11th and 12th, 1995, damaging the dock and entry gate of the Tamalpais and Angel Island Ferry.
During the fire, the Angel Island and Captain Maggie McDonogh would ferry over 1,200 firefighters to and from the Island. Without the efforts of the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry, the west garrison on the island would have been lost along with a host of other historical buildings and resources.
Any questions? Get in touch with us today to start planning your trip.