New wingwall for Bremerton terminal

dolphinsBy the end of Tuesday, the Bremerton ferry terminal was supposed to have a new wingwall to guide ferries to the dock.
Crews went in the water to remove and replace the battered wingwall, the last timber one in the system. They’re now made out of hollow steel pilings. The job was expected to last through February.
At Kingston and Edmonds, crews recently repaired and preserved dolphin piers — in-water structures used as landing aids for approaching ferries.

— Washington State Ferries photo

Agate Pass Bridge cleaning up well



The first week of cleaning went well on the Agate Pass Bridge, the Department of Transportation says.  You can see above all the crud that piled up over the years in the before and after photos.
Each day, traffic was reduced to one alternating lane across the bridge from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Knowing this, 15 percent of drivers stayed away during work hours, allowing flaggers  to keep delays to a minimum, typically between 5 and 20 minutes. Only two grumps  complained.
DOT says it would help them if people could reduce discretionary trips, change their schedules, and use the Kingston and Bremerton ferries instead of Bainbridge.
Crews have been simultaneously cleaning the bridge, making repairs and retrofitting the railing. No significant repair issues have been found.

They’ll work throughout the weekend, reducing the bridge to one lane at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, an hour earlier than weekdays. On Monday, they’ll open the lane at 2:45 p.m., to accommodate President’s Day traffic.

Transit responds to mayor’s RP1 concerns

rp1Port Orchard mayor Tim Matthes’ city council removed him from the Kitsap Transit board for more fast-ferry-friendly councilman Rob Putaansuu, but Matthes didn’t let the move silence him. He supports 30-minute trips to Seattle, but worries about the boat. The lightweight, low-wake, one-of-a-kind Rich Passage 1 is too expensive and possibly unsafe, he wrote last month to the board. Doubters applauded.
The agency responded, investigating the allegations and presenting findings during a study session Tuesday. Matthes, who was there, seemed mostly satisfied.
“I appreciated that you took the time to do that,” he said.
He did recommend that the boat undergo dye penetrant, ultrasonic and X-ray tests to establish a baseline.
Anne Blair, Bainbridge Island mayor and transit board member, thanked him for playing the devil’s advocate with a board that leans the other way.
“I’m grateful challenges were made and now we’re going to get some additional information,” she said. “This is how the process should work.“
Much literally hinges on the hydrofoil, a 14-foot wing that extends across the catamaran’s tunnel, providing lift so the boat displaces less water. The foil has been through hell during it’s short life, but emerged better for the experience, said fast ferry consultant Carla Sawyer.
It fell off during sea trials in March 2010 and had to be fished off the bottom of Bellingham Bay. After being re-engineered by a national expert and reattached, it fared well during a second round of sea trials and a four-month test carrying passengers between Bremerton and Seattle.
In January 2003, the ferry ran aground on the way to a Port Townsend shipyard and the foil’s paint was scraped up. In December 2013, a heat blanket keeping moisture out while the boat out of the water caught fire and the foil was damaged. Matthes claimed it sustained excessive stress cracks but Sawyer said only the laminate cracked. Repairs strengthened the joint, she said.
Sawyer addressed a list of problems Matthes said seem to grow with every sailing.
“Excess vibration”: None have been reported, Sawyer said.
“Diesel motor mount failure causing redesign and retrofit”: The was no failure. New mounts were installed to make the boat quieter.
“Cavitation when boat operates at hydrofoil speed”: Cavitation is typical.
“Repairs and replacement of jet drives”: Impellers were damaged when they sucked up gravel during the grounding.
“Exhaust falling off”: Never happened. Three of four had cracks that were temporarily repaired while the boat was operating and later rebuilt stronger.
“Damage to saltwater systems because of dissimilar materials”: There was premature corrosion in the fire/bilge pump system. It was replaced.
“Diesel motor warranty and repair work.”: There has been no repair work to the engines.
Special painting needed because wrong material was used in strut design”: Some paint eroded. Changes were made to reduce cavitation.
“High maintenance and operating costs”: Operating costs are in line with industry standards. Boat is built out of aluminum and composites, which require little maintenance.
Matthes compared Rich Passage 1 to a hydroplane that wipes out after hooking a sponson, writing that a failure of the foil or strut could cause loss of control and sudden change of direction. “Passengers and crew would be thrown around the cabin like rag dolls, causing injuries and loss of life.”
RP1 doesn’t fly on top of the water at 135 mph, Sawyer said. At cruise speed, it lifts about two feet, leaving one foot of the hull in the water. If the foil fell off, it would just sink like last time and the boat would drop down on its hull. There would be no violent action or injuries.
Board members showed most interest in Matthes’ assertion that the engines are over-stressed and will will wear out quickly. The boat has to race at 37 knots through Rich Passage to create the least wake, which is 90 percent of rated capacity. The rest of the time it runs at 32 knots, 65 percent of capacity.
“How long do you think these engines are going to last,” Poulsbo mayor and transit board member Becky Erickson asked about speeding up and slowing down. “I’ve been told you’re going to burn the engines up. We need to find out now to build into our cost modeling.”
She requested that manufacturer Caterpillar be consulted.
Kitsap  Transit takes passenger safety seriously, said executive director John Clauson.
“We have investigated every possible concern during the operation and building of the vessel,” he said. “It has been inspected and certified by the Coast Guard several times.”

Ferries get in on Seahawks mania

12thIn honor of the Seattle Seahawks reaching the Super Bowl again, I’m changing my name to Ed Friedhawk for this blog post. Everybody’s doing it, including Washington State Ferries. They announced that Gov. Jay Inslee directed them to honor the team by renaming the ferries after Seahawks players on Sunday.
The M/V Tacoma will become the M/V Jermaine Kearse, for example. That makes sense. Kearse is from Tacoma’s Lakes High. I hope it doesn’t jinx him, though. The Tacoma went dead in the water off of Bainbridge Island in July after an electrical explosion and is still on injured reserve.
Outside of the Tacoma, there was “no rhyme or reason” to the renaming of the other boats. It’s just coincidence that the Bainbridge route, which conspiracy theorists claim always gets the best of everything, wound up with Marshawn Lynch (Puyallup) and Russell Wilson (Wenatchee).
Conversely, Bremerton got Will Tukuafu (Cathlamet). Will Whoafu? He’s actually pretty cool. The huge fullback — 6-foot-4, 280 pounds — blasts open holes on Lynch’s runs. If he misses a block, Beast Mode runs them over anyway.
Bremerton’s other boat, the Kaleetan, will be the “Angry” Doug Baldwin. The city and receiver both have huge chips on their shoulders.
Kingston gets defensive superstars Richard Sherman (Spokane) and Earl Thomas (Walla Walla). Running the Southworth route will be cornerback Byron Maxwell (Evergreen State), offensive tackle Russell Okung (Issaquah) and defensive tackle Kevin Williams (Tillikum).
Here’s the rest of the lineup (M/V means motor vessel, by the way):
M/V Klahowya: “M/V Bruce Irvin”
M/V Chelan: “M/V Michael Bennett”
M/V Chetzemoka: “M/V J.R. Sweezy”
M/V Salish: “M/V Max Unger”
M/V Elwha: “M/V Justin Britt”
M/V Sealth: “M/V Kam Chancellor”
M/V Samish “M/V Jon Ryan”
M/V Hiyu: “M/V K.J. Wright”
M/V Hyak: “M/V Steven Hauschka
M/V Tokitae: “M/V Cliff Avril”
M/V Kennewick: “M/V James Carpenter”
M/V Kitsap: “M/V Bobby Wagner”
M/V Kittitas: “M/V Tony McDaniel”
M/V Yakima: “M/V Luke Willson”

Ferry ridership rebounding

Washington State Ferries ridership has bottomed out and is headed back up.
The agency on Friday released numbers that showed the largest rider jump — 2.7 percent — in at least 14 years. That’s when it lost license tab revenues, and started jacking up ticket prices and trimming service.
The 2.7 percent calculates to 650,000 riders, enough to fill 260 of its largest ferries.
Total 2014 ridership was 23,193,660, nowhere near the 1999 peak of 26.8 million but moving in that direction. Its the second straight gain (1.5 percent last year) after 13 years of declines. Drivers were up 1.3 percent and passengers 3.9 percent.
Bremerton led the way with a whopping 10 percent gain. Passengers were up 12.6 percent and vehicles 3.2 percent.
Bainbridge rose just half a percent, but remained the busiest route at 6.3 million riders. Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton continued their annual duel for second. Kingston, boosted by a 3.6 percent gain, edged Mukilteo in 2014, 4 million  to 3.9 million. Traffic picked up less than 1 percent at Mukilteo-Clinton.
Mukilteo, however, led the system with 2,151,070 vehicles, followed by Kingston at 2,098,533 and Bainbridge with 1,953,466.
Two-thirds of Bainbridge and Bremerton riders were passengers.
The Fauntleroy-Vashon Island-Southworth route showed little change, at 0.3 percent.

Misconceptions about the possible Seahawks fast ferry trip

Judging from the comments on my Seahawks fast ferry story, some facts are in order.
The low-wake ferry Rich Passage 1 is owned by Kitsap Transit. Washington State Ferries has nothing to do with it.
A half-hour trip to the NFC championship game would largely be promotional, although it could slightly reduce crowds on the car ferries. It can carry just 118 people. The RP1 needs to be operated periodically, anyway, to keep it in good running order. Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent thinks it’d be great to kill two birds with one stone. She’s not shy about fast ferries. Like many others, Lent thinks they’d be great economically for the city and surrounding area. Many also disagree. With a proposition to run fast ferries full time possibly going on the ballot in the next year or two, she wants to showcase them as much as possible.
Nobody would make a killing on the Seahawks trip. Lent and Kitsap Transit are just trying to cover expenses, primarily crew and fuel, as the feds require. The $25 round-trip ticket wouldn’t bring in half of the $7,000 needed. That’s why Lent’s looking for sponsor organizations. I’d think they’d see it as advertising. Neither the city nor Kitsap Transit would be footing any of the bill.
Nobody is being forced to ride the boat. Car ferries will be available for about $8 for the round trip.
If voters did eventually approve the service, tickets of $25 would  be too high to be competitive with the state. Kitsap Transit is thinking more in the $12-13 range. That would cover 25 to 30 percent of operating costs, so a tax increase would be needed.

Which ferry to take to Seahawks game

If you’re headed to Seattle Saturday for the big Seahawks game or any other reason, it might help to know which boat you’re catching. At Bainbridge, it doesn’t really matter. Both the Puyallup and Wenatchee carry 202 cars and 2,500 people. There are different-sized boats running in Bremerton, however — the 124-car, 1,200-passenger Cathlamet and 144-car, 2,000-passenger Kaleetan.

Kaleetan is scheduled to depart Bremerton at 11:10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Cathlamet is scheduled to depart Bremerton at 12:20 p.m. and 3 p.m. The game starts at 5:15 p.m. Washington State Ferries will add an unscheduled 11:30 p.m. sailing to Bremerton.

Passengers are advised to beat the rush by taking an earlier sailing and purchasing return-trip tickets online in advance.

The fast ferry Rich Passage 1 could also be an option, but they departure times and ticket-buying plan haven’t been determined yet. At last look, there would be one trip to Seattle and one back, each for $2, in the 118-seat Rich Passage 1. It can make the crossing in about a half hour. I should know more later this afternoon.

Mayor Matthes letter regarding fast ferry

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes, in a bit of a coup, lost his seat on the Kitsap Transit board last month to city councilman Rob Putaansuu. Putaansuu had been serving the board as an at-large member. He said the board owes it to the public to ask whether they want cross-Sound ferry service because of all of the time and money invested in building the low-wake Rich Passage 1.

Matthes isn’t  enamored with the boat. Not being a board member didn’t prevent him from saying so. During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, he read a critical letter he’d written. He said the list of mechanical problems grows with nearly every sailing and there are safety issues. If the foil or strut had a breakdown at high speed, the ferry could dig into the water and splinter like hydroplane at Seafair.

“Passengers and crew would be thrown around the cabin like rag dolls, causing injuries and  loss of life,” he wrote.

Here’s a line  to the complete letter: 2015-01-06 Citizen Comment- Matthes



Kalakala making final sailing to scrapyard

Time has run out on the Art Deco ferry Kalakala, which wobbled between Bremerton and Seattle for 35 years. Tacoma industrialist Karl Anderson, who wound up with the Silver Slug through foreclosure in 2012 and has been barely keeping the rotting, rusting vessel afloat, plans to scrap it. He’ll have it towed to a nearby graving yard on Jan. 22, according to a story in The News Tribune.
Anderson was just being a nice guy when he let dreamer Steve Rodrigues moor the Kalakala on his company’s property on Hylebos Waterway. It had already been booted from Seattle’s Pier 66, Lake Union and Neah Bay while awaiting restoration.
Rodrigues wasn’t good about paying the cheap moorage or maintaining the boat, so two years ago Anderson foreclosed on it. He didn’t want the Kalakala, but hoped to prevent it from sinking and fouling the bay. He’s spent $500,000 keeping it safe and secure, and will put out at least that much on demolition.
It’s hard to believe what happened to the cool ship. Washington State Ferries sold it in 1967 to an outfit that towed it to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and turned it into a crab processing operation. In 1971, it was sold again and towed to Kodiak for use as a fish cannery. It was abandoned when the operation failed.
It just sat there until a Seattle artist had it towed home to Seattle in 1998. It was in awful shape and nobody ever succeeded in raising the funds to restore it, though there was much talk from several cities, including Bremerton.

I was 12 when the Kalakala stopped ferrying people. I don’t remember riding on it, but my mom and dad and a whole lot of you do.

Make a reservation for the San Juan Islands

Little change occurs down here when the fall ferry schedule flips over to winter. It’s pretty much a San Juans deal. On Sunday, service to Sidney, British Columbia, will be suspended. Weekend service will drop  to three boats but remain at four on weekends. And there are a few other minor tweaks.

One thing West Sounders might want to take note of, however, is the extension of reservations to the San Juans. Many of us try to get up there occasionally. We can now use a reservation system to ensure we’re not sitting for hours waiting to get on a boat. It’s good for  customers because travel is predictable and it helps the ferries system by spreading demand from peak  travel times to less crowded sailings.

Check out the Save A Spot website.

The  reservations  program is growing. It started out with the Canada-Anacortes route, then spread to Port Townsend-Coupeville. After Washington State Ferries lost license tab funding 15 years ago, it figured it couldn’t keep building bigger boats and terminals. It needed to make better use of the ones it has. Reservations help in that regard. If you can look up and find that the next two sailings are full, you won’t sit at the dock waiting. So the dock won’t get so full. You can pop to the terminal a few minutes before your reservation and not waste a lot of time.

I don’t know how it would work  down here on the commuter oriented routes. Maybe someday we’ll see.