Seen off Alki: Seal mom and pup – and a mini-ferry

August 12, 2010 at 11:21 am | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 14 Comments

These photos are both courtesy of ace Alki wildlife-watcher Guy Smith – top, a seal mom and pup that he says spent a lot of time Wednesday on the Joy D. Smith Wildlife Raft (rafts like this are a big help, according to Seal Sitters, which has wished there were more) – second, a mini-ferry of sorts also seen off Alki Point – looks terribly familiar but we don’t have time for extensive research to determine its name – recognize it?

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to share photos – either by sending them, or adding to the WSB Flickr group.


  1. Shot some pictures of the mini ferry the afternoon of the 7th off of Lincoln Park, but don’t know exactly what it is. Guessing Jonathan Swift is somehow involved.

    Comment by MAS — 11:54 am August 12, 2010 #

  2. Yup, I saw that small ferry headed south late afternoon on Saturday, the 7th. It was passing Three Tree Point last I noticed.

    I also saw one of the specialized Crowley fuel barge tugs heading south this weekend. It was the first time I’d seen one of those. They make a normal fuel barge look small in comparison.

    Comment by jay — 12:54 pm August 12, 2010 #

  3. Any information on how the community can help provide more wildlife rafts?

    Comment by BD — 1:20 pm August 12, 2010 #

  4. They ask interested raft-builders to contact them for more info – as written in this blubberblog entry from last fall:

    Comment by WSB — 1:29 pm August 12, 2010 #

  5. I could be totally making this up, but didn’t there used to be a small ferry (maybe passenger-only, or <10 cars) from Port Townsend to Keystone before the Steilacoom was assigned to that run? I seem to remember seeing a ferry just like the one in the photo up in that area years ago.

    Comment by LAintheJunction — 4:00 pm August 12, 2010 #

  6. The mini-ferry (which used to run to Herron Island in Pierce County) is the Annabelle. Here’s an article about it:

    It’s normally parked next the Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma.

    Comment by LB — 4:21 pm August 12, 2010 #

  7. THANK YOU!!!! – tr

    Comment by WSB — 4:23 pm August 12, 2010 #

  8. Yes!! Thank you! Thank you! LB!

    I didn’t recognize her, because as is mentioned in the article, their home occupies what was the car deck.


    My family had a cabin on Herron Island from 1959-1971, and I have many fond memories of the Island, and of riding Annabelle. Although I’m not 100% sure he was the original Captain, “Captain Harold” piloted her for several years, until he took a job piloting the ferry to Anderson Island.


    She, as the article mentions, was originally an open deck ferry that would hold around 13 1960′s era cars, IIRC. There was a structure in the center of the boat that housed access to the engine room, and a small crew quarters, and the pilothouse at the top. Sometimes Captain Harold would let my older brother and I climb up to, and into, the pilothouse.


    After Captain Harold moved on to his new gig, his Deckhand (or probably technically First Mate), Charlie Wells, took over the duty as Captain. When the Annabelle had to be retired, (many years after my family sold the property), the Island bought a larger boat, and named it after Charlie, who by then had passed away.


    The last time I was actually on the Island, and rode her, was in August of 1977. By then my parents, including Step-Mom had all passed away over the years, and my guardians and I were looking for a way to spend the day. I suggested trying to see if we could get on the Island.


    Being a private Island, a person has to be a property owner/renter, or have a guest pass signed by one. I figured Charlie would be piloting the boat, and perhaps his son Joe would be deckhand, so I figured we would have no trouble getting on.


    I walked down the dock to the boat, and Charlie must’ve been on vacation or something, because the guy that was “Captain” was some guy I didn’t know, and I didn’t see any other familiar faces. So, I threw around a few names, (the family that ran the store, and a few other Islanders), and guy sez; “Okay, gimme a dollar and c’mon aboard”.


    Had a very nice time, and ran into this one couple my family had known, (that also had West Seattle ties), so we took them up on their invite to stop by their property for drinks, after we’d driven the Island. We also took my 15 year old female dachshund that had “grown up” with me, and who used to love to go to the Island back in the day, along with our male dachshund that we’d had to put to sleep several years before.


    The last time I saw the Annabelle in person, was around 9 years ago, after reading a similar article to the one that LB linked, that was in the P-I. I happened to be in Tacoma one day, so walked down to and across the 11th St Bridge to check her out. It looked like I could take a rather long stairway down (but would then have to climb back up!), but decided to just observe from above, because I didn’t want to disturb the family in their home.


    I had my camera with me, as I was on my way to a car show, and thought about at least snapping a couple of pics from the bridge, but again, didn’t want to invade any privacy.


    My older Brother, who has long lived out of state, came for a visit nearly three years ago, to show his then fairly recent bride all the places we lived at, and he worked at. He was able to get on the Island somehow, but IIRC, it sounded almost like a guided tour, rather than being able to explore on their own. He got a picture of our old cabin, (which actually had been through significant changes between the time my family sold it, and when I was last there in ’77), and after they went back home, sent me a nice, framed enlargement.


    I was so disappointed that I was working the day that they went! Although I think it was a bit of a spur of the moment thing for them to do so, and my Brother may have expected to not be able to actually get on the Island.


    Sorry to bore everyone! But this really brought back memories, and made my day, as I’ve been a bit down lately. I only wish I could have seen Annabelle cruise by our shores!



    Comment by miws — 6:40 pm August 12, 2010 #

  9. What a cool little story! The ferry is awesome and quite roomy it sounds like.

    Comment by MB — 6:59 pm August 12, 2010 #

  10. It’s a very cool boat–I captured some photos of her too…but haven’t had a chance to download and view…I’ll have to do that!

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 7:36 pm August 12, 2010 #

  11. @Mike you tell the best stories!

    Comment by Slider — 7:50 pm August 12, 2010 #

  12. Thanks, Slider! I feel honored! ;)



    Comment by miws — 10:13 pm August 12, 2010 #

  13. Mike, I really enjoyed your story too. I happened to visit Herron Island a couple of weekends back. It was beautiful and fun. Kinda removed from our fast-paced day to day existence. I can certainly understand developing a strong sentimental attachment.

    Comment by 35this35mph — 8:32 am August 13, 2010 #

  14. Thanks 35th!


    Yeah, it definitely was back then, and I’m sure still is. From what I’ve heard, the road up from the ferry dock is still the only paved one. If I recall, the only permanent residents back then, besides ferry crew, were two retired couples. And, I believe they may have been the only ones with phone service as well.


    There were only a few with electricity. Our cabin was just basically a shell, with plywood covering only one side of the studs dividing the rooms. Living room and kitchen one long room running the full length at the front of the cabin, parents’ bedroom behind the kitchen part, Brother’s and mine behind the living room part, with what would have eventually been the bathroom in between the bedrooms. We had a chamber pot in the bathroom for nighttime use, an out house for daytime use. (And plenty of trees for us guys! :P )


    We used kerosene (hurricane style) lamps for light, and a kerosene stove for heat, beyond what the old Monarch wood and coal cooking stove could not provide. Water was provided by a hose connected to the supply near the road outside, and had a utility style spigot on the end we brought into the kitchen through the window, and had an icebox, for which we’d grab a 50 lb block of ice in the Community of Home, on our way over. On the occasions we’d be heading over on a Sunday, for a summer vacation when the store in Home was closed, we’d get a block of ice from the machine that was outside of the old YMCA here in West Seattle, slap it on top of the old Rambler station wagon, and hope it didn’t melt by the time we got to the cabin!

    I think my Dad had intended to fully complete the cabin, and was just doing it piece by piece. I vaguely remember having a washtub and probably a ewer, before Dad put in a sink and faucet, but never got around to fully plumbing it. The water drained onto the ground outside. By the time I last visited in ’77, it appeared at least from the outside, that the cabin had been fully finished, so it looked like a real house!


    I could probably go on all day sharing the memories (or at least it would take me that long to type it all out! :lol: ) Including memories of alcohol being mixed with various adults, from Dad, to Aunts and Uncles, to neighbors from our West Seattle Neighborhood. Some memories are my own, and some that I may not recall myself from when they actually happened, but were told to me years ago.



    Comment by miws — 11:27 am August 13, 2010 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2005-2015, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^