When you look at something like a ferry that can hold 180 cars and a thousand passengers, you don’t immediately think of agility and maneuverability. However, the Wightlink ferries that run between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight have surprising capabilities. The entry to Portsmouth Harbour is followed by a rapid change of direction to get to the terminal at Gunwharf. From the Spinnaker Tower, you get a great view of how rapidly the ferry can be thrown around. The St Clare is a bi-directional ship so it doesn’t back in like Victoria of Wight. Instead, it looks like it is doing a handbrake turn. The wake ends up almost combing out of the side of the boat!
A variety of ferry operators have made their way on to the blog over time. Today I get to add a new one for me. I was taking a WSF ferry to Bainbridge Island and, as we were departing Seattle’s Colman Dock, some Kitsap Ferries services were also arriving and departing. The light angles weren’t ideal but I figured I would add to my collection of ferry shots anyway. Maybe I will go back deliberately at some point in the future to get some better shots.
I am known to take the occasional photos of ferries. I have even been known to search them out from time to time. However, I recently got a photo of one purely by accident. We were on Whidbey Island and in the town of Langley. We drove down a side road to a dock area to see what was down there and we came across a retired Washington State ferry. The MV Evergreen State was in the WSF fleet for decades but was finally retired from service in 2015. Apparently her disposal did not go smoothly and she was in Olympia for a while before a new owner bought her and moved her to Langley.
Supposedly, the new owner is in the process of converting her to electric power. Working on a vessel as old as she is sounds hard enough as it is but converting it to new technology seems like a major undertaking. Maybe it will all work out well but I have a feeling that another troubling time could be ahead. Meanwhile, she is moored in Langley and this is where I shot her.
We took the ferry to Friday Harbor when mum was staying and there is no way that I am going to be on a ferry for a while without the camera coming out to shoot the other ferries we passed. We were on the direct service from Anacortes to Friday Harbor but there are the other services that stop at the other islands. Our route took us passed the terminal on Lopez Island and, both outbound and return, we saw ferries docked there.
It seems that the schedule results in one ferry arriving at Lopez shortly after the preceding one departs. I assume that this doesn’t make it too tricky to stack up the awaiting vehicles but there doesn’t look to be a huge amount of space at the terminal. Then again, Lopez is a quieter destination than Friday Harbor. It was fun trying to get shots that combined both ferries in one frame and they passed on their respective routes.
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.