Video: New ferry Chetzemoka, gliding past West Seattle shores

April 3, 2010 at 9:50 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle video | 16 Comments

The 64-car Chetzemoka is the first new vessel built for Washington State Ferries in more than a decade – since the Jumbo Mark II class trio – and this morning it made its Elliott Bay debut, leaving Todd Pacific Shipyards on Harbor Island under tow, headed for some finishing work in Everett. We watched it from a spot just east of Anchor Park – one week after standing at almost the exact same spot, watching that visiting gray whale. According to the project page on the WSF website, Todd has a contract to build two more ferries like the Chetzemoka, which is destined for the Port Townsend-Keystone route, where the state’s been using a leased ferry since the Steel Electric-class vessels were taken out of service (the 2nd will go to that route as well, while the third is scheduled to run between Tacoma’s Point Defiance terminal and Tahlequah at the south end of Vashon). If you’re wondering about the name Chetzemoka, it’s explained here. ADDED 11:15 AM: A closer view from further along the journey (from a photographer who asked not to be credited):


  1. Wow. No roostertails, no water-skiers, nothing! How “pedestrian” (or “commuter” I guess).
    Looks just like the old ones. Guess they know what works, so why change it?

    Comment by JumboJim — 11:05 am April 3, 2010 #

  2. Actually, I was thinking it got hit a few too many times with the ugly stick. Not nearly as graceful looking (well for a ferry) as all of our other boats.

    Comment by Jordan — 11:33 am April 3, 2010 #

  3. The window lines are a little – squarer? – than the others. But I have to confess, Washington State Ferries are a big part of the reason I’m here – fell in love with them on my first visit to Western Washington as a tourist in 1988, and still take joyrides every so often (the Fauntleroy dock is minutes from our house) – so I’m looking forward to heading north to ride this one when it goes into service this summer. (We have friends in Port Townsend we’ve been meaning to visit, anyway.) But I do miss the beautiful Steel Electrics they’re sort of replacing, with their line of round windows, and the brass and glass touches inside … TR (ferry fan)

    Comment by WSB — 11:55 am April 3, 2010 #

  4. The ship design is based on a east coast ship that runs in Massachusetts. But it was designed by Elliott Bay Design Group, which bought the assets of Nickum and Spaulding Associates here in Seattle. Most of the older ferries in Washington and British Columbia as well as some of the Alaska ferries and the Blackball transport’s Coho have been Spaulding designs. The reasons for adopting the “island home” design as its known, is simply that it fit the needs at hand, and was an off the shelve design ready to go to the shipbuilders in a quick time frame.

    Comment by jim — 12:03 pm April 3, 2010 #

  5. jim: I didn’t think about it until you said it. But you’re right…it looks just like the Nantucket ferry!

    Comment by cjboffoli — 12:08 pm April 3, 2010 #

  6. Looks more like it was under push to me!





    Comment by miws — 12:29 pm April 3, 2010 #

  7. “Under tow” is how WSF described it … I’m not sure what the technical term for “being pushed” is, so I stuck with “tow.” Experts?

    Comment by WSB — 12:43 pm April 3, 2010 #

  8. Christopher: The only difference will be the car deck doors. Island Home has an enclosed car deck with outside seating on top. THE WSF version will have the typical open air car deck, but they were talking about a 6 foot tall door that would roll into place.

    Comment by jim — 12:54 pm April 3, 2010 #

  9. MIWS/WSB While she wasn’t being towed, she was certainly under tow, in that she was under the guidance of the tug boat. Can’t think of a better term.

    Comment by jim — 1:04 pm April 3, 2010 #

  10. I have always enjoyed my ferry rides, no matter how short. Our ferries (except for the couple years when the concessions were shortsightedly eliminated) have always been a respite and a haven. I still treasure the insulated mugs WSF sold for a span of years with images of the different ferries–If they were wise, they’d offer them again.

    Comment by JayDee — 1:39 pm April 3, 2010 #

  11. I should mention since apparently I am not alone in my ferry fan-ness – WSDOT has a Flickr group dedicated to this project, and those speedy folks even have uploaded a couple pix from today’s journey – some as-it-was-built pix are in there too:
    Gee, and video too. (Though I could do without the peppy soundtrack … the natural sound of sea, welding, etc. is just fine :) …)

    Comment by WSB — 2:07 pm April 3, 2010 #

  12. Yeah, I pretty much figured “under tow”
    was the technical maritime term, no matter the method.


    Just havin’ some fun! ;)



    Comment by miws — 4:10 pm April 3, 2010 #

  13. I like to think of the ferries as a poor mans time share alternative to personal boat ownership.
    Your “yacht” is always waiting and ready to go :)
    Sure is nice to be able to just walk off the boat at the end of the trip, knowing that someone else will take care of the cleaning and maintenance.
    I’m with Tracy, when I first moved to Seattle in the mid 80s, I used to spend whole days sometimes, just riding a ferry back and forth across the sound. Back then you could just stay on the boat and they did not care how many times you crossed.
    At $6 or $7, a two hour ferry ride is cheaper entertainment than going to the movies, which reminds me of the movie filmed a few years back named “Hello” which was actually shown on board one of the ferries ala “home movie style” with butcher paper and black plastic tarps covering the windows to create an on board movie theater :)

    Comment by Kevin — 5:03 pm April 3, 2010 #

  14. for ferry fans, check Steven Pickens website at besides being a vehicle for his book, he updates the site monthly on the day room page.

    Comment by jim — 5:29 pm April 3, 2010 #

  15. I found the movie trailer for “Hello” on YouTube in case anyone is interested.

    Comment by Kevin — 5:42 pm April 3, 2010 #

  16. I was the projectionist for the showings of “Hello” on the ferries. It was a unique job to say the least! I rode across and back once setting up the equipment, then showed the movie on the westbound crossing. Then I had to tear down as the boat sailed back to Seattle so I was ready to offload when it docked! Fun times! The passengers really enjoyed the unusual diversion.

    Comment by Johnston — 11:38 am April 4, 2010 #

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