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Realtor group comes out against fast ferry plan

The Kitsap County Association of Realtors, a strong supporter of past passenger-only ferry efforts, won’t back the plan Kitsap Transit is putting on the November ballot.

Association executive Mike Eliason said the organization’s government affairs committee listened to presentations Monday from Kitsap Transit executive director John Clauson and Poulsbo mayor Becky Erickson, a transit board member and POF foe.

“We’re going to be opposing the ballot initiative during this election cycle,” Eliason concluded. “It’s obviously a big change for us because we’ve been big supporters of passenger-only ferries and I think we can continue to be, but we’re not great fans of this particular plan.”

The 18-person committee was concerned about the boats themselves. Members worried about the foil-assisted Rich Passage 1’s endurance, and the potential for Rich Passage shoreline owners to knock it out with another lawsuit. They also believe adequate fare recovery would require larger boats than the proposed 150-passenger ferries for Kingston and 250-seaters for Southworth.

“You can take two days of passengers on one run of the car ferries,” Eliason said.

Bottom line, the plan fails the cost-benefit analysis, he said.

“For $460 million, our committee members wondered if it was worth the cost when the largest percent of those people (who would ride the POF) already are using the (state) ferries now,” he said. “It’s just a matter of convenience.”

The service would accommodate a maximum of 1,100 riders a day, who would be subsidized by the county’s other 260,000 residents, he said.

“It ultimately comes down to almost half a billion dollar financial commitment, and it’s risky,” Eliason said. “We’re still very much supportive of the passenger-only ferry concept, but not this particular ballot measure.

Several association realtors are high on the plan, including some who are part of a committee formed to support it, but they’re not on the government affairs committee, Eliason said.

The Realtors were the first group to publicly support or oppose the ferry plan.

Docks would probably be changed for ferry sister ship


Kitsap Transit passenger ferry Admiral Pete will have a sister ship, but not a twin sister ship. Officials earlier decided the boat would be built of metal instead of wood, and hybrid-powered instead of by diesel.

Another difference was discussed during the passenger-only ferry subcommittee meeting Tuesday. The new boat’s freeboard — the distance from the water line to the deck — will be 17 inches higher than the boats now in service, higher than the docks can handle.

Bremerton’s Art Anderson Associates engineers were hired to suggest solutions. Either the boat will have to be modified for about $40,000 or the Port Orchard and Bremerton docks altered for $80,000 to $90,000. The ferry would need to have a chunk cut out, exposing a beam, which would have to be kept covered so water doesn’t splash in. The docks could be made adjustable to accommodate any boat.

“The direction the staff suggested is let’s deal with the docks and leave the boat as originally designed,” Clauson said. “That’s the recommendation.”

There are reasons for the different freeboards, Clauson said. They include design changes to improve safety and efficiency, revised Coast Guard regulations and better access to the engines.

The agency hopes the ferry will be halfway built by the end of the year.

Also Tuesday:

* The POF subcommittee heard that Port of Bremerton commissioners are expected next Tuesday to approve the sale of the Annapolis Dock to Kitsap Transit. The deal will take about 60 days to close.

A new ADA-accessible pier won’t be designed and ready to be built until about mid-2019. It would be completed by the end of 2020.

* It appears the fast ferry Rich Passage I won’t be giving demonstration rides. Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido broached the idea last month to offer rides during Armed Forces Day weekend so citizens could get a look at what they’ll be voting on in November.

There are too many hurdles, however, including satisfying the state Public Disclosure Commission that it’s not a sales pitch and finding somebody besides Kitsap Transit to pay for it.

Lent and Garrido said Tuesday if they can’t offer rides, maybe they could hold one or more of the agency’s quarterly community meetings on the fast ferry in June. It would remain docked. Discussions will continue.

* The agency’s 2016-2036 long-range transit plan will be adopted at the board’s June 7 meeting. People can comment until May 16 to

Bremerton city councilman Richard Huddy offered comments about it Tuesday. He’d like to see more buses connecting cities and not just moving within cities. Worker-driver buses that sit all day at the shipyard are inefficient, he said. Use them on regular routes that emphasize PSNS.

There are security obstacles to prevent that, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome, Clauson said.

Huddy added that park-and-ride lots, especially outside Bremerton, should be expanded so more shipyard workers and ferry riders can park there and take the bus.

Hyak exceeds lifesaving capacity; strands passengers

hyakSeveral walk-ons were kept from boarding Saturday’s 10:30 ferry from Seattle to Bremerton Saturday night, and they weren’t happy about it. There’s not another boat until two hours, 20 minutes later.

This is an oddity, but it happens. Let me again explain why.

The ferry in question, the Hyak, was built to carry up to 2,000 passengers. The Coast Guard limits it, however, to lifesaving capacity — the number that can be strapped into life vests and fit on lifeboats. That is 600.

Since help is nearby from the route’s other boat, the Coast Guard allows ferries to exceed their individual life-saving capacity. At 10:30 p.m. Saturday, however, the other Bremerton boat, Cathlamet, had already been put away for the night, dropping the Hyak’s limit to 600.

About 50 people were left at the dock, Danielle Maloni of Bremerton wrote on Facebook. She couldn’t be reached for more information.

The long gap between the 10:30 and 12:50 sailings has long been a gripe of Bremerton riders. They often leave ballgames and shows before they’re over because there’s no way they want to wait until practically 1 in the morning for an hour-long boat ride.

Normally there’s plenty of room on the 10:30 ferry. Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling couldn’t put his finger on what caused the crowd. Maybe the Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle Sounders soccer game  Or late St. Patrick’s revelers.

“We did strand some people, unfortunately, which is annoying,” he said. “We’re not certain why there was so much demand for this ferry. This is extremely rare.”
A similar incident occurred on New Year’s, but WSF was able to add another sailing. It didn’t have the staff available this time.

Counting passengers has been a hot-button issue for years. The Coast Guard would like an accurate count on every sailing of every boat, so the crew knows how many people would need to rescued if there’s an emergency. Ferry workers count the ferries they expect to be pushing capacity, and more, depending on the route. It’s unclear whether it’s legally required, and it’s difficult when using a clicker to be accurate.

The ferries system is moving forward with the Coast Guard on the issue, it says. It’s also looking into automated passenger counting.

Fast ferry rides broached, but a long way off


Fast ferry rides could be part of Armed Forces Day weekend.

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido suggested this week during a Kitsap Transit subcommittee meeting that the Rich Passage 1 make demonstration runs so residents can experience it before voting on cross-Sound service, probably in November.

The 118-seat ferry can cross between Bremerton and Seattle in half an hour without harming Rich Passage beaches. There’s no money to operate it, however, hence a sales tax increase will likely be going to voters.

Lent proposed to run the ferry Saturday, May 21, the day of the big Bremerton parade. Garrido wanted commuters to get a taste of it on a weekday. The two agreed on May 19-21. Now it’s a matter of pulling it off.

First, it would have to be approved by the full nine-person transit board. Not all members are crazy about fast ferries, though the majority seem to be.

Then the Rich Passage 1 would have to be available. It’s being stored at Port Townsend Boat Haven and needs a little work before getting back in the water, said Kitsap Transit service and capital development director Steffani Lillie. It would need to pass an annual Coast Guard inspection, which shouldn’t be a problem. A crew would have to be lined up.

And there’s the matter of paying it — primarily fuel, labor and insurance. Lent believes she can find a sponsor for the insurance, which she estimates at $8,000. Finance director Paul Shinners is examining the cost. Lent said $70,000 generated from fares during a three-month testing period in 2012 could be spent on demonstration trips. That money is long gone, however. It offset some of the cost of providing the 2012 service, said Shinners.

Permission would have to be granted by the Federal Transit Administration to use the Rich Passage in such a way and it would determine whether fares could be collected, Lillie said.

Executive director John Clauson, who was out of town and didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting, is concerned about Lent and Garrido’s proposal coming off as a foregone conclusion.

“We’re a long ways from that,” he said. “No. 1, two members do not make a quorum. That would have to be a full board decision because it would have to be a budget expenditure. Currently we don’t have the funds to operate it. The board’s in control of it. They can do what they want.”

“There’s an awful lot that would go into putting that into operation, though it’s not something we couldn’t do.”

In January 2015, Lent pushed for the RP1 to provide trips to Seahawks playoff games. Passengers would’ve paid $25 per round trip. She requested contributions from five large companies, but they said they couldn’t act quickly enough.

Tokitae’s rust not as bad as sister ship



After a hole and hull corrosion were discovered on the state’s newest ferry, Samish, its sister Tokitae was put in drydock for a thorough inspection for similar problems. It went in Friday after the Samish returned from about two weeks of repairs.

Tokitae, which is at Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, doesn’t have nearly as much corrosion, said Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling, and no holes. There are two places where less than a square foot of steel must be replaced.

It could return as soon as Friday. In the meantime, the Samish is running in its place on the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

A final determination of the cause of the corrosion is coming soon, Sterling said. It is believed to be the reaction between dissimilar metals.

Quick response limited ferry fire damage


The Yakima crew, at the Friday Harbor ferry dock Tuesday, smelled smoke. And you know what that means. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But where’s where?

The ship was in the slip, pushing the dock, as they say. That describes how the propeller keeps running slowly after the boat is tied up to help keep it in place. Then it lost power, Shaun Bukovnik, the assistant engineer, described in a phone interview.

The captain called down from the bridge to report that smoke was coming out of engine room vents, onto the car deck. The engine room crew checked their quarters, smelled the smoke but found no flames. They quickly assembled a fire team, turned off the ventilation, started the fire pump and asked the Friday Harbor Fire Department to stand by at the dock.

“Any fire is a dangerous situation because minutes matter and seconds matter,” said Bukovnik, of Arlington. “We were on our way to check the engine room again. We looked in the engine operating station shop, our workshop, and there was smoke coming out of the motor exciter electrical cabinet”

They opened the breakers to de-energize it and blasted the fire with CO2 extinguishers. It was out in seconds, but they kept spraying to cool off the wires.

“This is a small electrical fire that was hiding from us because it was in a contained cabinet, but we found it, we attacked it and we won,” said the 36-year-old Bukovnik. The fire only hurt about one quarter of the cabinet. We were able to find it in time and save a lot of damage.”

An investigation is looking into the cause of the fire. The ferry will be out of commission indefinitely. The Kaleetan was moved from Bremerton to the San Juans to replace it. The Spokane, which had been at the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility, was assigned to Bremerton. The Yakima was towed to Eagle Harbor.

Bukovnik credited crew training and communication between the deck and engine room staffs for limiting the damage.

“I first want to thank God for the safety of the crew and helping us remember our training,” he said. “If it weren’t for the brave men and women of the crew, this could have been a lot worse.”

Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said all crew members go to fire school.

“We are really proud of our crew who leapt into action and did exactly what they’re trained to do,” he said. “They were able to extinguish the fire in a matter of minutes and keep it from spreading beyond the electrical panel.”

Kitsap Transit hires first public information officer


Kitsap Transit’s first public information officer is in the house. Well, not quite, but he’s on the way.

Sanjay Bhatt (pronounced “Bot”) will arrive on March 21 after emerging from 109 candidates. He’s been working since 2003 at the Seattle Times, where he covers real estate.

Bhatt received a bachelor’s degree in History from Duke University in 1996 and a master’s in Information Management from the University of Washington in 2013.

Ferry’s iron man award goes to MV Sealth

The ferry Sealth received the equivalent of Washington State Ferries’ Fleet Achievement Award as the most reliable boat in the fleet. The 34-yar-old vessel made 7,049 trips, ran for 3,522 hours and traveled 52,157 miles while missing only five trips because of mechanical failure.

It beat out four ferries that didn’t lose a single trip to mechanical problems. The are the Chelan, Chetzemoka, Evergreen State and Hiyu. The latter two shouldn’t really count. The Evergreen State was supposed to be retired. It was needed as a backup boat, however, and ran more than expected but nowhere close to full time. I don’t remember the 34-car Hiyu ever leaving the dock.



Republican wants flags off ferries, especially rainbow ones

According to the Tri-City Herald, state Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, wants no other flag besides the Stars and Stripes, the Washington state flag and maritime signal flags to fly on state ferries.