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.
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.
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!
With the new terminal open and operational at Mukilteo, the construction crews have turned their attention to the demolition of the old terminal facilities. The redevelopment of the waterfront includes returning this old space for new usage. The old terminal building was not a particularly impressive structure but now it looks very sad as everything is taken down.
Across the road, the old lanes for holding the cars prior to boarding are still visible but some of the area has already been cut through by the new access road construction for the terminal. One side of the old lot was briefly the home for one of the toll booths which looked rather feeble on its own. Next time I was there, it was gone.
The old span that connected to the berth has been lifted out. It was sitting on a barge on my last visit. A large floating crane had been brought in for the large lifts where a smaller crane had previously been in use. The structures were in the process of being removed. The concrete top to one side had been removed and the posts showed the damage from the cuts. The other side had a crew preparing the lifting lines to take that side off too.
The misty mornings at Orcas were not only pretty atmospheric to wake up to but they also could make for interesting shots of the ferries. As the banks of fog rolled in and out, the boats could disappear and reappear. As they backed out and spun around, they could be right on the edge of disappearing. Since we were facing south, the whole scene was backlit which made it look even more interesting.
Washington State Ferries have opened their first new terminal in 40 years. Calling it a new terminal is a bit deceptive – it is a replacement for an existing terminal – but it is definitely a new place for the ferries to come in. It is the new Mukilteo terminal and it is located about a third of a mile from the previous terminal. That one was right at the end of Mukilteo Speedway next to the lighthouse. The new location is east along the shore near the old Air Force tank farm location.
The construction has been underway for a while and the switch over happened on December 29, 2020. The ferries didn’t run for much of that day as they moved some key equipment across from the old location. Additionally, the crews took the opportunity to get practice with berthing in the new facility. The transition was done ahead of the holiday to make sure that the surge in traffic over New Year wasn’t affected.
I took a walk along the shore on two days later to see what it all looked like. The weather was hardly delightful but it was December in the Pacific Northwest so no great shock there. Additionally, not everything was complete. The main facilities are open but they have yet to install the passenger footbridge. That will go in around February/March time. For now, passenger walk across the road access (not while cars are there, of course!).
That also means some of the construction equipment is still in place. A large floating crane is still there and will be, I assume, until the footbridge is completed. They are also tidying up some of the other elements but they should be done pretty soon.
There is a new toll plaza on the entrance to the holding lots. I didn’t go up to take a look at that but I did get some photos from a distance. The demand for service was really high on this day with everyone heading home for their New Year celebrations. Despite the large holding lanes, it was full and traffic was waiting beyond the plaza and up the hill.
The main building is a really elegant structure. Lots of wood construction and styled on a native long house, it contains an information center, a ticket office and some other facilities. There is lots of native art decorating it both inside and out including a cool boat hanging from the roof. The building is elevated over the road access. The ramp for loading comes straight in to the shore and leads directly under the building. It means you have a nice elevated view of the boats as the come and go.
There is a waterfront trail that runs from up near the lighthouse to a park further to the east so you can walk along the shore to see the facilities and watch the boats. Near the terminal, there are many information boards giving some history of the region and these are quite educational. On a sunnier day, I can imagine there will be plenty of people enjoying this part of the shoreline and checking out the ferry traffic.
With the ferries coming and going to the terminal at Orcas, I was able to have plenty of chances to take photos. I did get standard shots of the boats in low light conditions. They are not easy to shoot since they are constantly moving. No long exposures at low ISOs are possible so it is high ISO and the associated noise. However, I did decide to experiment with some long exposures and blending of shots. The boats make a curving approach to the terminal. I thought this might make a nice long exposure. It worked okay but the curve is a bit disguised by being too low down to really appreciate it. However, it was fun to try.
The Washington State Ferry from Port Townsend comes into the Keystone Harbor. I figured I would await its arrival. The shallow harbor means that they have smaller ferries for this route. They were actually in the process of dredging the harbor at the time of my visit to maintain access for the ferry. Even though it is a smaller ferry, when you are standing at the water’s edge, it is definitely more imposing. They turned the ferry pretty quickly since the vehicle traffic didn’t look too heavy. I think the rougher crossing might have slowed them down so a quick turn helped keep the schedule.
I spent some time early one morning waiting for the return of a warship as covered in this post. It was dark and rainy when I first got there but then the sun snuck under the clouds and the result was some very pleasing light. I was down in Mukilteo which is the departure point for the ferry to Whidbey Island. They leave every half hour and I was able to get a few departures while I waited and after the ship has passed through. The white superstructure of the ferries glowed in the morning light with the dark background of the island behind them.
The ferry ride back to Seattle was later in the afternoon. We were asked to stay on the car deck in our vehicles but we could walk around the deck if we wanted. Everyone around us was wearing masks – as was I – so I was happy to get out of the car in the fresh air and look at the city coming towards us (just depends on your frame of reference physics geeks). Here are some shots of the skyline from the boat as we got closer to the terminal.