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Samuel McDonogh originally made a living by hunting water fowl on McDonogh Island in Petaluma.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.