By 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
At Kingston and Edmonds, crews recently repaired and preserved
dolphin piers — in-water structures used as landing aids for
— Washington State Ferries photo
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
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
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.
Port 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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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.”
In 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
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
Here’s the rest of the lineup (M/V means motor vessel, by the
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”
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
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, 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.
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
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 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.
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
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
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
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
I don’t know how it would work down here on the commuter
oriented routes. Maybe someday we’ll see.