The in basket: Randy Fox e-mailed to say he’d seen the experimental fast ferry Rich Passage 1 out for what looked to him like a joy ride on July 28.
“The family and I went out on our boat to the Waterman area to go crabbing and some bottom fishing…following behind the ‘Rich Pass 1,’ thinking that it was going to keep going through Rich Pass and out to the Sound area.
“Instead it stopped, turned to face and wait for the Seattle/ Bremerton ferry to pass by. Then the Rich Pass 1 followed behind it passing us at high speeds, making big wakes.
“About five minutes passed and you hear it coming back our way again. We thought that was strange, so we paid close attention to the boat. Didn’t see any passengers in the lower part of the boat. So we thought maybe it was training.
“I only noticed one silhouette at the controls and no one else in the pilot house. and this went on for about six hours. And that size of boat, the fuel cost isn’t cheap.
“I thought Kitsap Transit was having trouble with funding to fix
the Admiral Pete when it was lengthened.
“Why did we see Rich Pass 1 out wasting fuel?”
The out basket: Kitsap Transit’s Executive Director John Clauson says, “Any activity with the Rich Passage 1 (RP1) outside of the scheduled runs to and from Seattle is still part of the wake research project being conducted by Golder Associates.
“Because the load varies with the scheduled runs, other testing must be done in a very controlled setting with added weight to simulate passenger loads. Because of the time needed to load and offload the measured ballast, we are unable to complete this work between the morning and afternoon runs; thus the need to have two weekends for additional wake acceptance testing.
He sent a schedule of testing that showed most testing in the interim between morning and afternoon weekday commuter runs, but half-load wake testing ballasted with water bladders the weekend Randy saw it.
“During the week of August 6, they will do light-load conditions between the commute periods,” he said.
“Regarding the single person in the pilot house; because we are not carrying passengers onboard, we only need two people to operate during these additional test runs. In addition, the testing schedule is on top of the regular service schedule, which in itself has stretched the already limited crew resources; so again, only a skipper and one crew member is used.
“Lastly,” John said, “these additional test runs fall into the wake testing project, so they are covered under the federal grant funding, the same as the regular service runs.”