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!
I have posted a couple of times with ferries at Guemes Island and Lummi Island. While I mainly was shooting stills at these locations, I did get some video too. When the boats are being tossed about, I figured that video was a better way of conveying what the conditions were like. Below are a couple of videos I edited of the two ferries.
Having made a return trip to Anacortes to check out the dilapidated ship hills on the shore, I decided to add to my ferry collection. Just beyond Bellingham is an Indian Reservation called the Lummi Nation. Just off the coast is Lummi Island and there is a little car ferry that connects the island to the Nation. The ferry is called the Whatcom Chief and it is operated by the county. It isn’t a big ferry – it looks to hold about 16 cars – but the crossing is not long and they apparently will run extra services to clear a backlog of vehicles if needed beyond the scheduled services.
It was just as windy up at Lummi as it had been in Anacortes but it lacked the sun that I had experienced down there. Rain showers were blowing through periodically and it was a lot less enjoyable to be outside! However, I’d come all that way so I wasn’t going to miss out on the shots. As I mentioned, the ferry is not large and, with the wind whipping up some waves, it was bouncing around as it made the crossing. I guess you want to hose the salt water off your car after a crossing on a day like this since the spray was going across the boat as it pitched and rolled.
There were more cars waiting to make the crossing than there was space for so they squeezed as many as they could onboard and then headed back again. Hopefully they came right back for the remainders but I had got what I needed, had a decent drive home ahead of me and wanted to warm up so it was back in the car for me.
Continuing my lockdown hobby of checking out ferry services, I took a trip to West Seattle to see the terminal for Washington State Ferries at Fauntleroy. The service here goes to Vashon Island and Southworth – trips that I have yet to make but I would like to go cycling on Vashon at some point so I might get to use it then. I chose a pretty unpleasant day to make my trip there. Winter doesn’t provide reliable weather but the weekend is the only free time so you get what you are given.
The terminal is right next to Lincoln Park. I walked through the park to the water and strolled along the shore. A ferry was heading out at this time and, since the schedule was quite infrequent at that time of day, that was all I got to see move. I walked along the water and back to the road heading down to the terminal itself. It is not much of a terminal to be honest. Some holding lanes for the cars and not a lot else. Compared to the new Mukilteo terminal it is very low key. There is a little public park and beach just below the terminal which I briefly checked out but the increasing intensity of the rain meant I didn’t stay around too long!
Since aviation photography has been limited over the last year, I am finding myself photographing passenger ferries a lot. Having photographed some, I now am finding out about different ferry operations in the area and checking them out too. Anacortes is well known for the Washington State Ferries terminal that serves the San Juan Islands and Victoria (when the border is open) but it also has another ferry service. Just across the water from Anacortes is Guemes Island. The only way to get there is via a ferry.
The crossing is not a long one and you can see across to the other terminal with ease. The ferry is a basic boat with a car deck for vehicles and a small structure for the operators. I assume there is some shelter for foot passengers too but I didn’t spot it immediately. With such a short crossing, there are no special facilities.
As you come down the hill, you look along the loading ramp and straight at the other terminal. I saw a bunch of cars lined up to cross. It didn’t appear that they would all get on so I guess they shuttle back and further pretty regularly. It appeared to be half hourly. As they made the crossing, the boat seemed to roll quite a bit. It didn’t look like the smoothest of crossings. I guess the boat is designed to be sufficient for the sheltered waters but I wouldn’t like to be on it in rough weather. Then again, the crossing is short so you could suck it up if it was rolling about. Maybe I will take a trip across some time and explore the island.
The terrain around Seattle is pretty undulating which is not ideal for railroads. Consequently, a good amount of the track is along the shoreline where you can be guaranteed to be flat (provided you do a little work). Mukilteo is part of the BNSF line and it runs between the houses on the hill and the water’s edge including the new ferry terminal. There is a station there too for the commuter trains Sound Transit runs.
The majority of the traffic is freight traffic. Double stack containers or oil tank cars are a regular feature. I was there to look at the ferry traffic and the wildlife but, if a train is coming, I am not going to ignore it. One came through while I was in the station while another came through a little later when I was up at the grade crossing. For people living the US, long freight trains are not that unusual. For friends and family in the UK, the length of a US freight train can be quite a surprise. The leading locos can have disappeared off into the distance but the rear of the train hasn’t even come in to sight. A curving coastline like that along Puget Sound means it is easy to be unable to see each end.
Prior to the 1960s, the Isle of Wight had an extensive rail network. The Beeching cuts reduced it to one line, from Ryde to Shanklin. It was electrified and the rolling stock was initially old London Underground stock from the 1920s. This was in use when I was a youngster but it got replaced in the late 80s by the new(er) Class 483s. These were also London Underground castoffs – this time from the 1938 stock. They had gone through a modernization program to be used but they were hardly new.
Their time has finally come. Replacement is underway with “new” stock based on retired District Line trains from London. See a pattern developing here. The system is shut down for a while for some significant track upgrades which will allow for a more frequent service. The track desperately needed work and the old trains were falling apart so, hopefully, this will provide a big improvement.
When I lived on the Island, I didn’t think much about the stuff that was there. All of these pictures I have taken when visiting more recently. This is all I have to record the new extinct Island Line stock. Two examples will be preserved if you want to go and see them!
The Washington State Ferries service is the main way of getting between the San Juan Islands but it isn’t the only one. On a previous trip to the islands, I had posted about an operator of a small ferry. That post is here. The operator is San Juan Ferry and Barge. The boat in the original post is the Henry Island but they have a second, similar boat. This is the Nordland II.
The Nordland II came past us while we were staying in Orcas a couple of times. It had a truck with what looked like propane on board. I imagine moving from place to place with a hazardous cargo is easier when you charter the boat yourself. The front ramp means they can load and unload at any number of launching ramps around the islands which makes them super flexible.
They are based at Friday Harbor and, while we were walking around the waterfront, I saw them in the marina. The Nordland II was making a trip out so I got a shot as they pulled out (along with a friendly wave from the crew!). The Henry Island was still moored up so I grabbed some shots of it while I could.
In the center of Fairhaven, I was surprised to see an old London bus. This wasn’t a Routemaster but an older vintage of bus. It was tucked in a shady area next to a building on a sunny day so it was a touch tricky to get a shot of. It was also surrounded by various stuff so I maneuvered to get a reasonably clear shot of it. It still has its UK registration plates so anyone that is familiar with London Transport history, can probably advise what it is. No doubt there is a website for this sort of thing somewhere if I looked hard enough.
The beach at Shoreline is alongside the BNSF railroad tracks and there is always a good chance that a train will rumble past while you are there. We got one while we were on a stretch of the beach that is tight up under the tracks. I grabbed a few shots as the train headed south towards the city.