Tacoma is one of the largest container ports on the west coast. It gets a lot of big container ship traffic and, at some point, I intend to explore the port a little more to see if there are any interesting photo opportunities. While waiting around at Ruston, I saw a large ship heading down the sound towards the harbor. It seemed to be making good speed considering how close it was to its destination. They say it takes a long time to stop big ships but I guess they still had a decent distance to go and plenty of time to slow down. As it headed towards me, I was taken by the wake it was creating as it plowed forward. It turned to enter the harbor so I got a last look at it as it disappeared behind the marina wall.
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.
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!
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!