George Shelhorn was 19 when he first went to sea on a ship called the Hawaiian Ranger that transported livestock to Hawaii. Working at sea became his summer employment during his college years while he finished his degree in Physical Education. The most thrilling voyage, he says, was in the summer of 1968 when the crew brought beer and ammunition to Vietnam on the ship Occidental Victory.
His father was active in the Army, so world travel was familiar for Shelhorn. After graduating from San Jose State University in 1970, he found himself in the Peace Corp building physical education programs for two years in Venezuela.
When he returned from the Peace Corp, it wasn’t long before he was working at sea again on Bay Area barges, carrying oil to Alaska, Hawaii and along the California coast. When he developed a blood cell condition in 1997 he transferred to the San Francisco Bay Ferry where he continues to work the daily commuter route between Vallejo to San Francisco. From 1 to 9pm he’s busy taking tickets, educating visitors about Alcatraz or other attractions, or working in the engine room among other sea worthy duties. He’s even trained to captain the boat if needed. “If you have to go to work, this is a great job,” says Shelhorn. He enjoyed transporting Giants fans during the World Series, and had a stellar view for the America’s Cup. “I meet interesting people from around the world, and see a lot of great sunsets.”