Seattle Ferry Boats, an Adventure in Themselves.

Cascade Mountains in background of Seattle Ferry Boats

Olympic Mountains in background of modern day Seattle Ferry Boats

It’ been said, “Once a sailor, always a sailor.”  But you say, “I’m not a sailor!”  Well, the next best thing to it is to catch a ride on one of the Seattle Ferry Boasts.

It’s a blast!  Ever seen the newer movie version of  Titanic?  Remember the scene when Kate Winslet goes to the front of the bow and stands on the rails?

The ocean air blowing in her face and the wide open ocean before her?  Well, it’s not quite like that, but very, very close.

Rather than bore you with all sorts of statistics about the ferry boats and how they work, I’ll just give you a brief history of them, in capsule form.

Officially known now as: Washington State Ferries, or WSF. It boasts  the largest ferry system in the U.S.  It not only serves eight counties, but also all of British Columbia, Canada.

The 22 vessels carry more than 10 million vehicles and some 22 million passengers each year.  Why not be a walk-on passenger and see what it’s all about?

The “Mosquito Fleet”

It’s unofficial history began way back in the very early 1900’s with a small group of privately owned steamers that would carry people to their destination.  This group of steamer’s were know as the “Mosquito Fleet.”

mosquito fleet

A typical “Mosquito Fleet” steamer. circa 1900

It was not until after WW II and the problems with striking union worker’s, that the state finally realized that this ferry system was a lifeline for many communities and that some type of regular commute must be put in order for this continuingly growing demand for ferry services across Puget Sound (pew jet).

Finally, in 1951, WSF came into existence.  However, it did not take very long for the state to realize that their ferry boats were too small for the demand!

After the small owner operated transportation services were done away with, a  much larger class of boat was built.  It was known as The Evergreen State-class vessel.

Quickly, it too, was deemed to be too small.  Then the Super-ferry class vessels came into existence, then the Jumbo-class and finally in about 1999, the Jumbo Mark II-class ferries were built.

How long until they are outdated?  Only time will tell.  But why is it that they can not keep up with the demand?

 It’s a long story but it has to do with: when people from around the U.S. come to visit Seattle, they stay!

The "Fleet" lined up in circa 1909

The “Fleet” lined up in circa 1909

Cast Off !

OK, enough of that.  Let’s get to the ride with the Seattle Ferry Boats.  If you’ve not been on a ferry, I would suggest going as a walk on.

Not only is it less expensive, but if you take your vehicle, you must off-board it when you land, then when you want to board again, you will be waiting in the (usually) very long lines along with other cars, to drive aboard.

It’s much simpler to just walk on board as a passenger.  Also, there are many places locally, once you get to your destination,  that you can either grab a taxi, or rent a vehicle or motorcycle to go sightseeing.  Keep that in mind when you board.

You have pretty much free reign of the ferry, all except where the cars are loaded.  No one is allowed there until it’s time to unload.

You can go out on deck, up to as near the bow as allowed,  over to the rails, up to the top deck, the middle deck or even the lowest passenger deck.  Whichever you choose, you will love the view.

Speaking about the beautiful view, be sure and take lots of pictures as mementos of your visit here.

Seattle Ferry Boats as seen today.

Seattle Ferry Boats as seen today.

There Be Whales In Them Thar Waters, Captain !

Off in the distance, you’ll see the Olympic Mountains, usually snow capped year round.   And, if you  are in the right place at the right time, you can see a pod of Orcas (killer whales) working their way through Puget (pew jet) Sound on their way up to Alaska to get to their hunting grounds for the Alaskan Salmon.

sea orca ferry

A pod of Orca’s seen from Seattle Ferry Boats.

On the other hand, locally,  you can see harbor seals playing througout the Sound, usually year round.  But remember, though the seals “look” friendly, stay back from them when on land.  Remember, these are wild animals, and as always, wild animals do bite.

Pest ?

The local fishermen view the harbor seals as a “pest” as they invade the fishing areas when fishing season comes around.  I can recall when the authorities were notified by the professional fishermen that the seals were eating up their livelihood.  All types of noise makers were used to scare them off.  Nope, nothing seemed to work.  The seals just ignored the sounds.  Many wanted to just shoot them.  Sorry, but that is NOT going to happen!  So what was the solution?  Leave them alone.  Simple.

Cute Little Harbor Seal :)

Cute Little Harbor Seal 🙂


So Long To An Old Friend

There are many ferry’s to choose from now, however, my favorite was the former, Princess Marguerite.  The Princess was designed for comfort for it’s passengers.  However, she is long gone, since 1997,  within the breaking up shipyards of  Alang, India.  🙁

Beautiful Princess Marguerite. Photo: Will Borden

Beautiful Princess Marguerite. Photo: Will Borden

On a lighter note, be sure and check the time schedules of the ferry’s.  Work traffic would not be a good time to board.  Wait till a weekend or during the middle of the day.  Much more enjoyable and fewer people to deal with.  Which ever way you choose to go,  the Seattle Ferry Boats will give you a trip you will always remember.

If you enjoyed this brief mental “picture”, be sure and share  🙂