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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 9:56 am 
I have been reading a lot lately about the problems the Washington State Ferry (WSF) system is having with meeting traffic demands. This brings to mind what it was like to be dependent on the ferry system when I was growing up on Whidbey Island. I remember our run being pretty dependable. Schedules were printed, so we knew the departure times. We could wait til the last minute, make a mad dash and still make the boat. On summer weekends there was usually a backup so we seldom crossed then. I thought I would relate what happened to a couple of boats I used to ride on a lot. The first was the Chetzemoka. It was purchased by the Black Ball Ferry line before that system was taken over by WSF in 1951. The ferry was built for the San Francisco Bay run but became redundant when the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. The old girl served for many years on the Mukilteo/Columbia Beach(now Clinton) crossing. It was finally decommissioned in 1973 and sold to a buyer down in the Bay area. It was being towed back when it ran into rough seas and now lies on the bottom about 9 miles west of La Push. RIP The second boat that comes to mind is the Olympic. It was built in 1939 and originally ran on Chesapeake Bay. It was replaced by the Chesapeake Bridge in 1953. The WSF bought the boat and towed it and a sister ship, the Rhododendron, to Puget Sound, renamed them and put them into service. The Oly served for forty years and was taken out of service in 1993. After being retired there were some attempts to re hab the old girl, but nothing worked out. Pictures I picked off the net shows it rusting away on the beach of Kitron Island in the south
sound. She may be scrapped by now. Both of these boats served on many runs during their time in service. For those of you old enough, you may have taken a short cruise on one at some time. Several other boats rotated thru our run. Some I recall were Bainbridge, Vashon, Kitsap. Leschi, and Rhododendron. There may have been others.

Anne Elk, IanB  Ski
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Schroder
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 10:45 am 
There are many issues right now with the ferry system but they are gradually being worked out. A lot of crew retired during Covid and many quit over the vaccination retirement so the crew levels are way below where they were in 2019. It takes years for training. 75% of the captains have or will retire within the next 5 years. The crews are running so thin that if one person gets sick and doesn't show up for their shift, the run is cancelled. That happens several times a week on Mukilteo-Clinton. Almost a third of the ferries are out of service either because of lack of crew or maintenance needs. A couple are in the yards to be converted to all-electric. Edmonds-Kingston, Coupeville-Port Townsend, and Seattle-Bremerton have been running on single ferries for a couple of years now. The Director of the ferry system quit about a month ago and had no previous maritime experience. Our new director has a lot of experience so there should be steady improvements. I live next to pilings from a mosquito fleet ferry dock & that ferry ran along Whidbey, over to Camano, and then down to Everett. Other old ferries: The Skansonia, a ferry between Vashon Island and Point Defiance, sits on Lake Union and is used as a wedding venue. The Kalakala was scrapped in Tacoma a few years ago

Waterman, Ski
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glenoid
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 10:51 am 
I liked the “open air” ride you got on the Kulshan. (It was perhaps scrapped as I saw an orange life ring from it at an antique shop in Langley long ago. They wouldn’t sell…

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hearingjd
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 11:28 am 
Here is a cool site with a lot of pictures of the old boats... https://evergreenfleet.com/

Hiker John

mike
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Schroder
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 1:11 pm 
hearingjd wrote:
Here is a cool site with a lot of pictures of the old boats... https://evergreenfleet.com/
That's a great site! I remember riding the Chippewa many times out to the San Juans

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Dick B
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 2:22 pm 
Schroder wrote:
hearingjd wrote:
Here is a cool site with a lot of pictures of the old boats... https://evergreenfleet.com/
That's a great site! I remember riding the Chippewa many times out to the San Juans
Amen to that! The site confirmed what boats I remember being assigned to the So. Whidbey run. I look back and reflect on how few of those ferries I rode and how few different runs I made. Rode the old Defiance, on the PT/Keystone Xing, quite a bit during 2 summers on the Oympics. Back in my time we didn't do a lot of roaming around the Sound. Mostly headed east to the mountains and Leavenworth area.

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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 3:15 pm 
Thank you very much, Dick. We are really fortunate here in Washington to have one of the most fabulous ferry systems on the planet! wink.gif

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Schroder
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 3:49 pm 
Ski wrote:
We are really fortunate here in Washington to have one of the most fabulous ferry systems on the planet!
See my comments above. I assume you don't regularly take the ferry.

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mike
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 4:16 pm 
Favorite ferries, Vashon, Hiyu, Nisqually, Klickitat, and Evergreen State. It was a sad day when the Nisqually and Klickitat were "upgraded" and beautiful curved observation rooms were destroyed.

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Dick B
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 4:20 pm 
For as long as WSFs have been in operation, you would think they could keep a handle on what needs to be done to keep the system running efficiently. There are just to many folks dependent on the ferry system for their everyday lives. I will give an example. I lived on Whidbey and attended Everett JC for my 1st 2 years. Had the ferry not operated when it said it would, I would have been forced to live in town rather than at home. The expense would have been prohibitive. I thought there was a large fleet improvement not that many years back. Too little too late? Maybe forcing jabs was not such a good idea either. I hope they get back on track soon.

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Olympic Hiker
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PostSat Mar 30, 2024 6:39 pm 
I lived on Herron Island in the south Puget Sound until I was almost 13. It is a private island serviced by a private vehicle ferry and I think it is the only private ferry left in Washington that is not operated by the state or a county. All other ferries that I can think of are operated by Washington State or a county. You can only ride the ferry if you own property on Herron Island. I always liked telling people, when they complained about some difficult way they had to get to school as a child, that I had to catch a ferry every day to make it to my bus stop to get to school.

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. - Lincoln

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Schroder
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PostSun Mar 31, 2024 8:26 am 
There are still private ferries to Hat Island (Everett) and Blakely Island. I know there are others but I can't think of them right now.
Dick B wrote:
I thought there was a large fleet improvement not that many years back. Too little too late?
Much longer ago than you might remember. We've built a few new Olympic Class ferries in the past 10 years - the Tokitae 2014) and the Suquamish (2018), both ferries and both on the Mukilteo-Clinton run in the summer, and the Chimacum and Samish. Here's the website showing the current mechanical condition of our ferries https://wsdot.wa.gov/about/data/gray-notebook/gnbhome/preservation/ferriesvesselsandterminals/vesselconditions.htm

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Olympic Hiker
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PostSun Mar 31, 2024 9:23 am 
Schroder wrote:
There are still private ferries to Hat Island (Everett) and Blakely Island. I know there are others but I can't think of them right now.
Looks like those are passenger only ferries. I was commenting that the Herron Island ferry was the only private ferry left in Washington with regularly scheduled service, that I knew about, that carries vehicles and passengers. Does the Coho count as a private ferry?

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. - Lincoln
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Dick B
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PostSun Mar 31, 2024 1:10 pm 
Schroder wrote:
Dick B wrote:
I thought there was a large fleet improvement not that many years back. Too little too late?
Much longer ago than you might remember. We've built a few new Olympic Class ferries in the past 10 years - the Tokitae 2014) and the Suquamish (2018), both ferries and both on the Mukilteo-Clinton run in the summer, and the Chimacum and Samish. Here's the website showing the current mechanical condition of our ferries https://wsdot.wa.gov/about/data/gray-notebook/gnbhome/preservation/ferriesvesselsandterminals/vesselconditions.htm
It sure looks like WSF system has a lot of catching up to do. How much do the crossing fees help to pay for maintenance, upgrades and replacement, or do they just cover every day operating expense? There must be some stats on ridership on various runs at various times. I can imagine the frustration of needing to make a Clinton/Mukilteo crossing only to have it canceled. I certainly didn't make the run every day for the 20 years I lived on the Island, but I never heard of a boat itself not being able to operate because of lack of a crew. I think one time a loaded log truck broke thru the slip at Clinton and perhaps some other accidents prior to loading.

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PostSun Mar 31, 2024 1:11 pm 
One kid in my senior secondary in B.C. rode bus 55 miles each way. About half was gravel, which meant slower on heavy snow days and during spring breakup. He started with a full size grocery bag nearly half full. Ate a couple inches on way to school, a couple inches at lunch, and a couple inches on ride home. Teen boys.

Keep Calm and Carry On? Heck No. Stay Excited and Get Outside!
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