A change of plans caused by reduced ferry services at Mukilteo meant we found ourselves at Edmonds having a stroll along the shore. It was a lovely sunny Saturday if a little cool and breezy. The ferries to Kingston from Edmonds were running a full service and you know I can’t resist getting the odd ferry photo.
On our trip to Victoria, we took the BC Ferries crossing to Vancouver Island. On our return journey, we got to the terminal at Swartz Bay quite early and the sun was shining so I wandered down to the water edge near the ferries to see what was going on. There were more BC Ferries vessels in place along with a competitor ferry, Seaspan, that appears to be focused on freight traffic only.
That ferry left before we loaded but it ended up following us through the passage towards the Strait of Georgia. We made a couple of turns through the passage which meant it appeared and disappeared from view for me but I managed to catch it a couple of times. The passage is also the place where the ferries pass in opposite directions since it is mid journey. A chance to get some more ferry shots. After a pause, it seems I am back on the ferry photography trail!
A while back, I produced a post about the way in which ships look a lot rougher when up close compared to from a distance. In that case, it was a Washington State Ferries vessel I was considering. In the shipyard in Victoria that was across from where we were staying, there was a catamaran ferry undergoing work. The bow of the ship was very close to the fence and you could see exactly the same thing. The steelwork welds were easy to see at that range and remind you that these ships are heavy engineering.
The San Juan Islands were our escape a couple of times during the limits on travel that COVID provided. Getting to the islands involves a ferry trip and I will always enjoy that. One of the things that I find interesting about the ferry terminals on the islands is how simple they are. When we lived in the UK, the ferries were constantly expanding in their usage and the terminals were all getting upgraded to accommodate more vehicles. They also had shops and food outlets.
The San Juans are far lower key. The terminals are often in remote locations (accepting that the islands are generally pretty remote anyway) and they are tucked away looking far more like part of the coastline. As we travel on the ferries, we get to see some that we stop at and others we pass. Here are a few of the ones I have photographed from the water.
On our most recent trip to Orcas, we had an unusual experience during the ferry crossing to the islands. The crew announced that there would be a rescue boat drill and that we weren’t to worry or do anything. The ferry came to a halt in the open water and the crew manned up the RIB. Fortunately, the RIB they were using was the one mounted on the side of the ferry we were parked on so I was able to lean out through the opening of the car deck and watch the launch.
Two crew members got in the boat and then the davit was swung out and the boat lowered to the surface. They got the motor going, let out the lines and zipped off in to the distance. I figured they would shortly be back but they seemed to go quite a way off and then disappear from view. Instead, the ferry powered up and continued on its way.
As we got closer to our first stop at Lopez, we caught up with the RIB and, after bringing the ferry to a stop again, the process was reversed and the boat was brought back on board before we resumed our normal crossing. Reading the Washington State Ferries news emails, it appears that rescues are a pretty regular feature with the ferries picking up various water users that have got themselves in to trouble. Good that they keep well practiced!
Continuing my quest to explore the ferry services of the Pacific Northwest, I took a trip down to Tacoma and out towards Point Defiance. Ruston is the location for another of the Washington State Ferries terminals. This service crosses to their south end of Vashon Island. I knew about the ferry to Vashon from Fauntleroy but I didn’t initially realize that there was a second connection to the Island. It is a short crossing and, while I was there, only one ferry was used to run a shuttle back and forth.
The ferry terminal is right next to the entrance to the marina. The jetty provides access to allow me to photograph the other side of the ferry to that which is visible from the shoreline. The ferry in use is of the same class that runs the service from Port Townsend to Coupeville. It was big enough to clear the line of cars each time it came in while I was there. Maybe busier weekends have more of a waiting time, though.
It is not hard to see across to the other terminal. I was able to track the ferry is it made the crossing in each direction. It was not a particularly bright day when I got there but I was happy to add another ferry to the collection. However, as I was contemplating moving on, the sun started to come out. The light colors of the hull certainly look a lot better on a sunny day so I figured I would wait for it to come back once again. Unfortunately, as it started back across in lovely sun, a cloud was moving in over me. Sure enough, the ferry was back in shade by the time it got close in. Oh well, not the most important thing to worry about.
When photographing the ferries at Edmonds, the sun was very low in the sky and was coming on to the boat at an oblique angle. This shows up something that is not obvious about ships from far away but is really obvious when you get close to them. Take a look at a large ship from far away and it may look like a smooth sided creation. However, ships are constructed from plates of steel being welded together and, when you get close to them, this becomes a lot more apparent. The individual panels are far from smooth and the joins where they are welded together are a bit “agricultural”. Get the light on them at a shallow angle and this is pretty clear.
Rarity value of Boeing’s production jets is a nice feature of living here. The 787 line is closing at Everett but there are still plenty of jets to be delivered as a result of some production quality issues. An Uzbekistan Dreamliner was built last year and I saw its colorful livery on the flight line a while back. It was finally lined up to depart recently so I decided to watch it go. It had done some test flying in lovely light in the preceding days but I was unable to be there for that.
The conditions weren’t as nice as they had been previously but they were okay and it did mean that the heat haze which is a big deal at this time of year was not such a factor. They were departing to the north so came out of the South Gate of the Boeing ramp and taxied to the south end of the field. A long flight home means plenty of fuel but also no payload so a pretty early rotation. Even so, managed to get some shots of a jet I am unlikely to see again.
After our aborted trip on the Edmonds ferry, I figured that the morning light would be good on the ferries as they arrived and departed. Rather than bore Nancy that day, I figured an early morning visit would make more sense – assuming that the weather was nice. We had a steady stream of nice weather for a week so, early one morning, I headed back to Edmonds.
At this time of year, the sun is a little further north than appropriate to get light on the side of the ferry while it is in the terminal. However, as soon as it leaves, it turns to the south slightly to head across to Kingston. The light soon gets on to the right side of the boat. It is nice to still have a bit of snow on the top of Olympics which provides a bit of a more interesting background.
You can see across to Kingston from Edmonds and the morning light made the view across pretty clear. I was surprised how well you could see the ferry departing the other terminal as well as the stored ferry on that side. As they crossed in the middle, it was easy to get the two of them in one shot. The morning light also brings out some texture on the side of the ferries but that is going to get its own post.
My lockdown interest in different ferry operations continues unabated. Since I was down at Nisqually checking out the wildlife refuge, I figured I was close to Steilacoom which is the home of a ferry service provided by Pierce County. This one operates across to Anderson Island – a location where some friends of ours have a place. It occasionally stops at a smaller island too but that is not a frequent service.
There were two ferries tied up at the dock when I got there. One was the Christine Anderson and it was the one in use. The other was called Steilacoom II and I wonder whether that is an older ferry that is kept in reserve. Not long after I arrived, the ferry departed. I hadn’t positioned well to catch it but it turned immediately and headed south so was soon visible away from the other dock vessels. I got myself some lunch while I waited for it to return. The sun was out and the conditions were lovely as it made its way back to Steilacoom. However, a big cloud bank rolled in at just the wrong time and, as it got close to its destination, it was suddenly in shade that did not make for good photos. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the background was still bathed in good light though. One more ferry to add to the tally!