West Seattle, Washington
4:03 PM: One day after the Spirit of Kingston took over the West Seattle Water Taxi run because the Doc Maynard needs repairs, it’s experiencing trouble. According to an alert from Metro, the Spirit of Kingston “has had some debris get lodged into one of its four jet engines. The vessel is still in service; however, we are expecting delays this evening.”
4:49 PM: We asked Water Taxi spokesperson Al Sanders for details on the “debris”; he says they suspect “it was a mooring line.”
The Spirit of Kingston is replacing Doc Maynard on the West Seattle Water Taxi run until further notice. After Metro sent that announcement this afternoon, we asked spokesperson Al Sanders why. He explains, “The Doc Maynard is going to the shipyard for repairs to the vessel’s propeller. The issue was discovered during the morning run and it was taken out of service.” The swap is notable since the Spirit of Kingston’s 149-passenger capacity is only about half that of Doc Maynard, but Metro says ridership has been averaging “well below” 149. Sanders says there’s no estimate yet how long Doc Maynard will be out of service.
According to an alert tonight from Metro, the West Seattle Water Taxi will start early both days this weekend because of the Orca Half half-marathon. The first runs of the morning on Saturday and Sunday this weekend will be 7:30 am from Pier 50 downtown and 8 am from Seacrest. Shuttles from Seacrest will start early too. This is in addition to the regular schedule, which you can see here. The Orca Half will be run both days between 7:30 am and 1 pm, on sidewalks and trails from Lincoln Park to Don Armeni Boat Ramp, as previewed here. (Water Taxi side note: New bike racks!)
12:42 PM: Speaking of the West Seattle Water Taxi, just announced at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting – it will stay on a 7-day-a-week schedule throughout the upcoming bridgeless winter after all. Until now, plans had been in place to switch the service back to a 5-day-a-week schedule in mid-October. The topic came up at last month’s CTF meeting; city reps said at the time that it would be costly. How costly? We asked Metro afterward; they said it would cost at least a million dollars. We’re still pursuing more specifics but apparently the city found the cash to pay the county to keep the 7-day-a-week service going through the winter.
1:32 PM: SDOT has since sent a news release that has this added information:
Thanks to SDOT funding, Water Taxi service this fall and winter will remain similar to the summer daytime schedule:
*Seven day a week service between Seacrest Park in West Seattle and Pier 50 downtown from approximately 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
*Ships will leave the dock every 35 minutes during weekday peak commute hours and every hour mid-day, evenings, and weekends.
*The expanded service will not include late night Friday and Saturday sailings after 7:00 p.m.
According to information we had previously obtained from Metro, the estimated cost of keeping the late-night sailings would have been about a third higher:
From the King County Water Taxi:
Maintenance is being completed on the Seacrest passenger boarding ramp, causing us to cancel the 1:00 pm departure from West Seattle. We hope to resume regularly scheduled service beginning with the 1:30 pm departure from downtown. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Twelve days after the crew of the West Seattle Water Taxi, M/V Doc Maynard, rescued two people after their sailboat capsized off Seacrest, they were recognized today for their heroism.
King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott and County Executive Dow Constantine presented a certificate of recognition today to Water Taxi crew members including, center L-R above, Deckhand GW Rogers, Captain Brad Johnson, and Deckhand Jay White. You can see the certificate here.
12:38 PM: Thanks to the texter who tipped us about what’s logged as a “marine service response” off Harbor/Alki Avenues. They report the West Seattle Water Taxi “rescued (a person) who had turtled his craft and couldn’t get it upright.” SFD sent fireboats. We’re following up.
12:42 PM: We’ve also heard from Karen, who was on the Water Taxi when this happened, and reports the rescue involved an “overturned sailboat off Duwamish Head,” adding, “We were on the water taxi when it diverted from the route to rescue them. Kudos to the crew!”
1:08 PM: Thanks to Rodney for the through-a-telescope photo. Meantime, we’re hoping to get more rescue details from Metro (which manages the Water Taxi).
2 PM: Our original texter, Roxanne, says the Coast Guard has brought the sailboat in. (added) Doug and Shari sent this photo:
3:18 PM: Here’s what we just received from Water Taxi/Metro spokesperson Al Sanders in response to our inquiry (photos included):
The crew of the West Seattle Water Taxi Doc Maynard rescued two boaters whose sailboat capsized off Duwamish Head shortly after 12:00 p.m.
The Doc Maynard had just left West Seattle’s Seacrest Dock on its 12:00 p.m. sailing to downtown Seattle when the crew spotted two people in the water next to a capsized sailboat.
The water taxi pulled next to the sailboat and deployed their rescue platform and life sling, but the two people were unable to use the sling.
One of the crew of the Doc Maynard then got into the boat’s rescue suit, went into the water, and assisted the people into the sling and onto the water taxi.
The Doc Maynard returned to Seacrest Dock with rescued passengers of the boat and were met by Coast Guard. The boaters worked with the Coast Guard to retrieve their capsized vessel.
After bringing the boaters to the dock, the Doc Maynard resumed its regular schedule.
Just in from King County Water Taxi management:
The M/V Spirit of Kingston (social-distancing passenger capacity of 57) will be on the West Seattle Water Taxi route all evening replacing the Doc Maynard (153-passenger capacity) while it operates on the Vashon route. The Sally Fox [regular Vashon vewsel] will be out of service tonight while scheduled maintenance on an engine is completed. Last Friday, multiple departures were near the 57-passenger limit; however, ridership today has been far lower. Please plan your commute accordingly in the event that West Seattle customer demand exceeds available capacity on any individual sailing. The M/V Doc Maynard will return to service on the West Seattle route tomorrow morning.
The Water Taxi Watch live map shows Spirit of Kingston is already on the run, so make this an afternoon/evening alert.
This is the second weekend the West Seattle Water Taxi has been on its spring/summer schedule, which adds not only Saturday and Sunday runs, but also weekday midday service. Last year, because of the pandemic, the WT never moved to the spring/summer schedule, and for months ran on a scaled-back timetable. A reader contemplating giving it a try recently asked us if it’s crowded. We noticed the Water Taxi website didn’t have updated ridership stats, so we asked King County Metro – which manages the WT – for an update. Spokesperson Al Sanders provided these numbers
2021 – first week of summer [service] = Monday-Sunday
4/19 – 386
4/20 – 484
4/21 – 477
4/22 – 357
4/23 – 603
4/24 – 364
4/25 – 384
2020 – for comparison – Monday-Friday
4/20 – 62
4/21 – 34
4/22 – 40
4/23 – 32
4/24 – 18
4/25 and 4/26 – no service
The vessels are still running at limited capacity for distancing; Sanders says that’s 153 passengers for the West Seattle run’s regular boat M/V Doc Maynard and its twin on the Vashon run, M/V Sally Fox; 57 for the backup boat M/V Spirit of Kingston. Even with that, he says, “Highs for a sailing haven’t been above 40 on any given departure, with most being 10-20.” Though the numbers are a big increase from last year, there’s a long way to go to meet the mode-shift targets the city laid out in the Reconnect West Seattle plan – 950 added trips per day – and also, to get close to pre-pandemic ridership (see the “data” tab here).
That’s the main West Seattle Water Taxi vessel M/V Doc Maynard, arriving at Seacrest this evening, its first Saturday in service since October 19, 2019. Pandemic precautions precluded its 7-day-a-week schedule last year. But this year, it’s back. That means the free shuttles to/from The Junction, Admiral, and Alki are back, too.
The shuttle schedules are here and here. Spring/summer Water Taxi service has a few changes from past years, though – for example, outside the regular Friday/Saturday night schedule, no special late-night runs for stadium sports. Other changes are detailed here; the full schedule, including weekday middays, is here.
The latest fill-in stint for M/V Spirit of Kingston on the West Seattle Water Taxi route is almost over. It’s been filling in these past two weeks while regular, larger vessel M/V Doc Maynard has been out for annual maintenance. Metro spokesperson Al Sanders tells WSB that Doc Maynard is scheduled to get “picked up” at the shipyard tomorrow, and to return to the West Seattle run on Tuesday. While we’re talking about the Water Taxi, a reminder – we’re just two weeks away from the spring schedule, adding midday and 7-days-a-week service starting April 19th.
Just in from King County Water Taxi management:
For approximately the next two weeks, the 33-passenger MV Spirit of Kingston will replace the 86-passenger MV Doc Maynard on the West Seattle route, while the Doc is in the shipyard for scheduled annual maintenance. West Seattle riders should plan accordingly given the reduced passenger capacity, especially on the 4:45 and 5:25 evening sailings. We apologize for the inconvenience.
The water taxi continues to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through regular cleaning and disinfecting between sailings. Masks are required for both passengers and crew.
And a reminder that this year, as announced earlier this month, the Water Taxi does plan a 7-days-a-week, all-day spring/summer schedule, starting April 19th.
Because of the pandemic, the West Seattle Water Taxi never switched to its seven-day spring/summer schedule last year. However, Metro says today that this year, it will. The daily-service season will be shorter than past years, starting two weeks later and ending two weeks earlier. It will include late-evening sailings on Friday and Saturdays, but no plans for late-night sports-event runs. The spring/summer schedule also will include more weekday departures – every 35 minutes during peak commute hours, hourly during middays. The new schedule will be in effect April 19th through October 15th; you can see it here. (Distancing-reduced capacity will continue TFN, of course.)
After three-plus weeks on the Vashon Island route, MV Doc Maynard is returning to the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle route tomorrow. That’s the word from Metro’s Torie Rynning. That means the run will be back to full (distanced) capacity. The smaller MV Spirit of Kingston handled the West Seattle run while Doc Maynard was filling in for MV Sally Fox, which was out for annual maintenance.
This is the third week that the smaller M/V Spirit of Kingston has been filling in for West Seattle’s regular King County Water Taxi vessel Doc Maynard, which has been on the Vashon Island run while M/V Sally Fox has been undergoing work. King County Metro’s Torie Rynning tells WSB today, “We are now looking at Friday or Tuesday to restore the Doc Maynard to the West Seattle route. Cold weather delayed some of the painting [on Sally Fox] and there were also some delays in procuring some of the materials we needed for other repairs.” The Water Taxi won’t be running at all on Monday because of the Presidents Day holiday.
M/V Spirit of Kingston will be on the West Seattle Water Taxi route at least a few more days, according to King County Metro. We checked today to see if M/V Doc Maynard would return to the run next week, since this was the last day of the announced two-week period for which it shifted to the Vashon run, filling in for M/V Sally Fox. Metro spokesperson Torie Rynning replied, “We are now looking to restore the Doc Maynard to the West Seattle route for the Wednesday afternoon commute at the earliest. It might be longer if the weather does not cooperate, due to some outstanding painting and outdoor projects needing to be completed on Sally Fox before she leaves the shipyard. In the process of installing all new railings on the Sally Fox, the crew found other minor issues to fix, which extended the shipyard period.” M/V Sally Fox and Doc Maynard are close to identical twins – both went into service in 2015.
Just announced – the smaller M/V Spirit of Kingston will be on the West Seattle Water Taxi run for the next two weeks:
Starting Monday, January 25, the M/V Spirit of Kingston (physical distancing passenger capacity of 33) will be assigned to the West Seattle Water Taxi route for the next two weeks while the M/V Sally Fox goes to the shipyard for scheduled annual maintenance.
The M/V Doc Maynard (physical distancing passenger capacity of 86) typically serves the West Seattle route and will be operating on the Vashon Island route. The smaller vessel is assigned to West Seattle because the route has twice as many sailings as Vashon Island’s route and therefore more departure options for passengers.
Ridership on the West Seattle route has not exceeded 33 passengers since early November, although ridership has been fluctuating since the holidays. Please plan your commute accordingly.
The Water Taxi continues to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through regular cleaning and disinfecting between sailings. Masks are required for both passengers and crew.
Just in, a temporary change of vessel on the West Seattle Water Taxi route:
The 149-passenger Spirit of Kingston will replace the 278-passenger Doc Maynard on the West Seattle route tonight and tomorrow. West Seattle riders should plan accordingly given the reduced passenger capacity, especially on the 8:00 and 8:35 morning sailings as well as the 4:45 and 5:25 evening sailings. The Doc Maynard will be going to the shipyard to have a damaged propeller replaced. There will be no impacts to Vashon service.
And a reminder, no Water Taxi service on Friday for the holiday.
5:02 PM: The pier at Seacrest reopened this afternoon after replacement of the Water Taxi dock float that holds its passenger ramp. We took the photo just before sunset. On Friday, David Hutchinson caught the old float being lifted out:
Metro explains the work here; the new float will be more weather- and wave-resistant. This should mean the West Seattle Water Taxi service is clear to resume tomorrow, but we’re waiting for an official update on Sunday.
11:48 AM SUNDAY: The official update is in – WT servive WILL resume as normal Monday morning.
As we’ve been reporting, the pier at Seacrest is closed today, and West Seattle Water Taxi afternoon/evening service is canceled, because of dock work. American Construction‘s big floating crane got busy right after the morning commute.
The crane is there to replace a section of the floating dock, the one that holds the passenger ramp to/from the dock. King County Metro explains, “This float is listing to one side, likely caused by water retention from failing pile guide mounting bolts. This listing is causing further issues with the passenger ramp connection, the ramp’s rollers on the float end, and the float’s connection to (another float).” The problem factored into a recent WT service interruption when emergency repairs were needed
The old float is 320 square feet; the new float is 448 square feet, and three kayak floats are also being taken out to make room for it. Metro says $300,000 was budgeted for this and it’s expected to be $60,000 under that. The pier itself isn’t being altered but it’s closed for safety, since the crane is hoisting items over it. Seattle Parks, which owns the pier, is hoping to reopen it Saturday afternoon.
The Water Taxi is expected to be back in service Monday morning; Metro will confirm that on Sunday.
11:56 AM: Just announced by King County Metro:
If you are planning to travel by water taxi to or from West Seattle on Friday, Dec. 4, please note that afternoon service will be canceled so that Seacrest Park can receive a brand-new, stronger float. The pier at Seacrest Park will also be closed when construction crews are onsite. Construction will begin after morning service on Friday and is scheduled to be completed early Sunday, Dec. 6. Service is expected to resume as normal Monday morning, Dec. 7.
The float being replaced, Float A, is one of three located at Seacrest Park. Float A is the northern-most float where the passenger ramp lands. This float is listing to one side, likely caused by water retention from failing pile guide mounting bolts. This listing is causing further issues with the passenger ramp connection, the ramp’s rollers on the float end, and the float’s connection to Float B.
Four kayak floats are also being removed in order to maintain the same footprint overwater once the larger, new float is installed.
Photo from kingcounty.gov: The passenger ramp lands on the float being replaced (Float A); extending to the right is Float B. The “fingers” extending from Float B are the four kayak floats being removed.
Float A takes the brunt of the weather and wave action which has led to several repairs to pile guides. A new design from the manufacturer now features integrated pile guides, which will minimize maintenance to the float and better endure the weather. The new float has a life expectancy of 25 years.
The existing float being removed is 320 square feet (10 feet by 32 feet) and the kayak floats being removed are 290 square feet. The new float being installed is 448 square feet (14 feet by 32 feet).
The Seacrest Float Replacement Project is a capital project planned for in the 2019/2020 biennial budget. The budget is $300,000, and the project is currently targeted to be underbudget by approximately $60,000.
Water Taxi service is expected to resume Monday morning; Metro will confirm on Sunday.
ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: As for the fishing pier, here’s what Seattle Parks tells us: “It will also be closed for safety reasons. This is because the new docks will swing up and over the Pier and gangway. It won’t close until 9:00 am Friday morning and hope to have it back open Saturday afternoon.”
2:53 PM: Since the strong north wind canceled this morning’s Water Taxi runs, we just checked with Metro to see if the passenger-ferry service will resume for the pm. Spokesperson Torie Rynning tells WSB that. looking at the weather, they do expect it to resume service for this afternoon/evening. She adds, “The Spirit of Kingston will replace the Doc Maynard, as the weather prevented the Doc Maynard from accessing the fuel dock this morning.”
3:31 PM: The official announcement is out now, and it includes the reminder that the vessel swap “means the route will be able to carry only 33 passengers per trip compared to 86, given physical-distancing limits.”
Thanks to Carolyn Newman for that photo from repair work at Seacrest today, two days after the West Seattle Water Taxi route went out of service because of dock trouble. Metro says the run will be back in service Monday:
We are pleased to report that the West Seattle Water Taxi will be back in service Monday morning, Nov. 2. The marine crew is reinstalling the dock-to-shore ramp at Seacrest Dock that was removed for repairs, resulting in cancellation of West Seattle service Thursday and Friday. The damaged hinge and attachment mechanism (pin) have since been replaced.
Metro says the downtime also enabled them to put a new non-skid surface on the boarding ramp in time for rainy weather, to give the vessels extra deep cleaning, and to run “training exercises and emergency drills for crew members.”