“Meet” the King County Water Taxi vessel you’ll ride this year

(Photo of MV Rachel Marie provided by KCFD – 2nd photo added 8:12 pm)
Kris Faucett from the King County Ferry District says its Board of Supervisors — King County Council members – approved a lease today for downtown-West Seattle service by the M.V. Rachel Marie, sister ship to the M.V. Melissa Ann, which is now on the King County Water Taxi’s other run between downtown and Vashon. (added 11:42 pm, from this document) Monthly cost: $32,000. (end of add) Also today, Faucett says the new fare schedule won approval today too, plus there’s word that West Seattle’s one-year Councilmember Jan Drago has been elected to chair the Ferry District Board. Read on for the Rachel Marie’s stats:

From a Ferry District doc provided by Faucett:

The M.V. Rachel Marie is the sister ship to the Melissa Ann (now in service on the Vashon Island/Downtown Seattle route). Both vessels are 77-foot catamarans with capacity for 150 passengers with a crew of three.

The vessels were built for the U.S. Army in 1988 at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island to ferry workers to and from the ballistic missile tracking station on the Kwajalein atoll (in the Pacific).

After their service with the Army, both of the vessels served as the Bremerton-Seattle foot ferry and then worked together in Hawaii as a commuter ferry. The Rachel Marie most recently worked in Juneau, Alaska, where she ferried workers to a remote silver mine.

Like the Melissa Ann, the Rachel Marie’s interior features a combination of theater-style seating, bench seats with tables, and facing seats. The Rachel Marie has an air conditioning/heating system, two restrooms and can carry 18 bicycles.

The Rachel Marie has two 900HP propulsion engines; she is equipped with two radar systems, a GPS plotter, a depth sounder, and an automated information system transponder.
Specifications for the Rachel Marie:
• Length – 77 ft.
• Beam – 29 ft.
• Draft (deepest) – 5 ft.
• Weight – 51 tons

17 Replies to ""Meet" the King County Water Taxi vessel you'll ride this year"

  • rewinn January 25, 2010 (5:45 pm)

    This gives new meaning to the ORCA Pass!

    (The per-trip subsidies on this thing are quite insane. But let’s have a laugh where we can.)

  • sa January 25, 2010 (6:10 pm)

    Who is operating this then? argosy did a great job, better than the county can do.

  • SLC January 25, 2010 (6:28 pm)

    Will this boat be any faster than the previous one? I hope so!

  • Free Lunch January 25, 2010 (6:35 pm)

    A catamaran, huh? Maybe this will be a few minutes faster than the “Sightseer.”

  • brandon January 25, 2010 (7:17 pm)

    Does it have an open upper deck? THAT I would miss :(

  • I. Ponder January 25, 2010 (7:34 pm)

    Nice! Can’t wait for year-round service.

  • Captain Kat January 25, 2010 (7:35 pm)

    I will miss the commuters and the day trippers on “The Taxi.” The people riding are a large part of what makes the Taxi special. I will especially miss those awesome sunrises on the AM Run, and starry calm nights in the summer. Sightseer was a hoot to drive, and taught me many valuable lessons in my profession.

    Rachel Marie is a fast, good looking, and accommodating boat. You’ll like her. Again, I’ll really miss this run…

  • miws January 25, 2010 (7:59 pm)

    I was wondering the same thing as brandon.


    I, too, like riding “topside”.



    • WSB January 25, 2010 (8:04 pm)

      I’ve got a photo I think will answer. Will add it to the story. It shows the rear view of Rachel Marie. Doesn’t look like a top deck but looks like a back deck at least – TR

  • JayDee January 25, 2010 (8:18 pm)

    Where will the WT land on the downtown side? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • ellenater January 25, 2010 (9:51 pm)

    so much love for the water taxis. coolest thing ever. EVER.

    TY, Captain Kat. :)

  • Living in West Seattle since 1985 January 25, 2010 (10:03 pm)


  • LyndaB January 25, 2010 (10:31 pm)

    i’ll miss the open deck. thanks for the fun Captain Kat

  • austin January 26, 2010 (7:57 am)

    It does look like there’s a top deck area there in the second photo but not as large as sightseer. The additional enclosure will be nice for the more blustery portions of the year round service. I’ll really miss the front deck!
    The King Co. water taxi will land downtown at pier 50, the same as the vashon island water taxi (a third of a mile south of its current landing at pier 55).

  • nate January 26, 2010 (10:42 am)

    I predict heated competition for those outdoor seats, especially in the July/August time-frame.

    That Vashon to Downtown Taxi goes FAST, and I’m wondering what the crossing time will be from Seacrest to Pier 50. I really enjoyed the 14 minutes of peace that was given everytime I rode the Sightseer.

    Also, are they anticipating any impact from the reduced capacity, i.e. 150 vs 250 passengers? My recollection is that there were some hotter days when more than 150 boarded the Sightseer. Thoughts?

  • Whiskey Girl January 26, 2010 (5:03 pm)

    Can’t wait! I loved the front of the Sightseer. I always take out of towners downtown on water taxi. Will there be a price increase?

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