Mr. “Bill” Spence, was not rocked in the cradle of the deep or born on the crest of a wave. He was however a U.S. Navy veteran, astute businessman, tireless entrepreneur, visionary impresario, and highly regarded State representative from nearby coastal hamlets of Hingham and Hull.
Mr. Spence was also a Harvard graduate, and with his beautiful bride Wilma, had a family of four to raise. Recognizing that running a maritime company required a strong hand on the tiller and a sharp eye on the horizon he cast aside aspirations to be a banker and instead jumped feet first aboard the opportunity to run a small fleet of passenger vessels serving the local communities.
All four of Bill and Wilma’s children played a role in building their family business, from being deckhands to serving lunch, there was no task too small, no effort too large. Darcie, Jeffrey, Jay, and Kerry spent many a day toiling under the hot sun, running from stem to stern handling lines, anchoring or assisting passengers aboard. Pleasant customer service and a strong work ethic quickly differentiated them from the others along the working waterfront of Boston. It was almost certain that if you sailed once upon their vessels you would return for another.
Massachusetts Bay Lines is the oldest operating commuter boat service in Boston Harbor with over 55 years experience in water transportation service. We pioneered the first South Shore commuter run in 1963. Over the years, we have continuously provided South Shore commuter boat services with the M/V Vineyard Queen, M/V Nantascot, M/V Freedom, M/V Gracious Lady, and since 1988, the M/V Massachusetts. We have provided service between Hingham and Boston as an independent carrier since the fall of 1991. As of July 1, 2002, we began running as a subcontractor to Boston Harbor Cruises. We operate 20% of the Hingham Ferry Service for the MBTA year-round. We have satisfactorily completed prior MBTA commuter contracts, between Hingham and Boston, with an excellent service record.
In the summer of 2002, we entered a joint venture with the Boston History Collaborative by operating the Boston By Sea tour as part of our scheduled cruises for the general public.
We also operated the M/V Yankee Skimmer for the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction when that office made the commitment to run an experiment to see if a market really existed for high-speed commuter boat service between Hingham and Boston (1979-1981).
Today, Mass Bay Lines still enjoys a strong reputation for excellence. We provide service to Boston and Boston Harbor, as well as Quincy, Hull, Thompson’s Island, George’s Island, and other Boston Harbor islands and peninsulas. Mass Bay Lines is still owned by the Spence family, with management being passed down to the able hands of Kerry and Jay.
On a seasonal basis, we operate daily, weekly, and holiday cruises for the general public, as well as charters for private parties, corporate events, youth groups, special events, and entertainment cruises.