West Seattle, Washington
The sky was clear, as were the voices of The Dickens Carolers, as the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship made its first of this year’s three West Seattle stops tonight at Don Armeni Boat Ramp. We recorded the mini-concert of holiday classics on video:
The downtown skyline provided a gleaming backdrop, including the red and green roof lights of the SODO stadiums. This year’s West Seattle schedule is the same as last year, so you have two more chances tomorrow to see and hear the Christmas Ship without leaving the peninsula – 5:35 pm at/near Salty’s on Alki (1936 Harbor SW, WSB sponsor) and 8:35 pm at Alki (usually near the Bathhouse, 60th/Alki), with a Seattle Parks-supervised bonfire on the beach.
Thanks for the tips! Six days after it headed northbound, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is headed back home to Bremerton, passing the mouth of Elliott Bay right now before turning into Rich Passage.
8:17 PM: SFD is sending units by land and sea to look into a report of a 30′ sailboat that’s possibly adrift 200 feet offshore, south of Lincoln Park.
8:23 PM: Responders say it’s an anchored vessel, not in distress, so they’re canceling the response.
The West Seattle Water Taxi‘s 2 pm run was delayed a bit today, and the explanatory alert was terse: “Crew of the Doc Maynard rescuing a barge that was adrift along the Seattle waterfront.” We asked Metro spokesperson Al Sanders for more info, and here’s what we received:
Preliminary details from MV Doc Maynard Capt. Dan Krehbiel:
The Doc Maynard, a King County Water Taxi, was en route to Pier 50 from Seacrest Dock at approximately 1 p.m. when the crew spotted a fully loaded container barge dangerously adrift from Pier 18 near Harbor Island, headed across Elliott Bay.
When the Water Taxi crew didn’t spot a tug next to the barge, they moved to intercept the vessel, which was moving toward the vicinity of the Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium, and attempted to push the barge away from the heart of the waterfront.
Captain Krehbiel was able to use the Doc Maynard’s bow to push and direct the barge north, where it eventually landed in the vicinity of Pier 66. Tugs arrived to pin the ship to the terminal until the barge owner could arrange transport.
The Doc Maynard did not sustain any damage to the bow, which steered the wayward barge away from the waterfront. Water taxi service was delayed by approximately 15 minutes as a result of this incident.
A Twitter/X user got it on video – watch here. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the barge mishap.
ADDED 6:49 PM: Kevin Freitas shares this time lapse from one of his cameras on this side of the bay:
Another one-of-a-kind West Seattle Halloween event today – thanks to Jeff Jones for sending photos from the Witches and Warlocks Paddle!
With costumes and standup-paddleboards, the participants headed out onto Elliott Bay from the Seacrest area.
Maari Falsetto of Inner Alchemy Treasures & Transformation organized it.
This is the third year for the Halloween paddle, which Maari said was intended to “cast a spell of JOY and FUN.”
When Elliott Bay-watchers see that ship head out tomorrow (Monday, October 30th) from Pier 66 downtown, they’ll be seeing the end of this year’s Seattle cruise season, according to the Port of Seattle. The 2,000-passenger-capacity Norwegian Sun is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning after a 10-day Alaska cruise and head out at 4 pm tomorrow on a 20-day “repositioning voyage” that’ll take it down the Pacific Coast to the Panama Canal and eventually to the Bahamas. In a media advisory, the port says this season “brought a record 1.7 million revenue passengers, or over 800,000 unique passengers through Port of Seattle cruise terminals, on 291 homeported cruise voyages.”
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo and ship ID. Seen passing West Seattle, under tow and headed into Kitsap County waters, that’s the decommissioned guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). It was decommissioned two and a half weeks ago in a ceremony at Naval Base San Diego (this online Navy story has lots of history). According to this online report, it’s being taken to Bremerton to “serve as a ‘logistics support asset’.” (A reference to another ship in that role explains that term as “spare-parts hulk.”)
Thanks to Mark for the photo. The state ferry under tow in Elliott Bay is M/V Walla Walla, headed for the Vigor shipyard on Harbor Island. This is the ferry that ran aground on Bainbridge Island in April. That problem was attributed to contaminated fuel. But that’s not why it’s going in for repairs. This is because of recent propeller damage, Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling tells WSB. The most-recent WSF weekly update explains:
Following a significant shudder felt aboard Walla Walla Friday, we sent divers to inspect the ferry’s propellers and they found damage to one of them. The vessel will need to go into dry dock so the prop can be replaced. If no other issues are found, the boat is expected to be out of service for up to four weeks. Until it returns, plan for reduced vehicle capacity on some routes.
Also currently at Vigor is M/V Wenatchee, for conversion to hybrid-electric.
Thanks for the texted tip! The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is in view from West Seattle, southbound, six weeks after it headed out. MarineTraffic.com says it’s been headed home to Bremerton since leaving San Diego six days ago.
Also seen in Elliott Bay – Washington State Ferries‘ M/V Wenatchee, under tow. It’s arriving at Vigor on Harbor Island to make history as the first WSF vessel to be converted to hybrid-electric. (That’s also where the ferry was built 25 years ago.) The Wenatchee’s propulsion system also will be updated during the conversion. When it’s complete next year, it will return to service on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island route, and M/V Tacoma will head to Vigor for its hybrid-electric conversion.
Thanks for the photos and tips! That big gray boat seen in Elliott Bay off West Seattle a short time ago is the Military Sealift Command vessel USNS Fisher (T-AKR 301). MSC ships like this are basically cargo ships for the military, though their crew is civilian.
Thanks to Al for sending photos and a report from tonight’s Sunset Paddle for Maui, a West Seattle on-the-water fundraiser organized by Alki Kayak Tours. Al told us via text, “15 boats, 21 people, at least 6 sea lions, and one gorgeous sunset…”
If you couldn’t join the paddle, here’s one way to help Maui fire survivors – the Maui Strong Fund.
That video is about the current voyage of Hōkūleʻa, a 49-year-old replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe that’s been traveling the world for decades and is due to arrive in Seattle on Saturday. If you’re looking out at Elliott Bay on Saturday morning, you might see it on the way in, so we’re publishing this heads-up. From the announcement:
Seattle’s Tribal Nations, Native Hawaiian residents, city officials and community members are planning a special welcome for Hōkūleʻa and her crew as the Polynesian voyaging canoe sails from Suquamish and enters Elliott Bay at approximately 8:00 am on Saturday, August 26. Tribal Nations protocol will open the way for a flotilla of outrigger paddling canoes, the City’s fire boat, and other vessels that are planning to give Hōkūleʻa a water welcome before escorting the canoe toward the Seattle Waterfront.
If you go downtown, you’ll have the chance to tour Hōkūleʻa between 1 and 4:30 pm on Saturday. It’s the first day of a four-day visit; the voyaging canoe is scheduled to move to Bell Harbor Marina (2203 Alaskan Way) for 1-3 pm tour opportunities Sunday and Monday – hokulea.com will have updates. On Wednesday (August 30th), Hōkūleʻa and crew will head past West Seattle again, including the west-facing shores, journeying to Tacoma for a noon arrival there. Their current voyage is described as a “four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific” that started up in Juneau on June 15. They expect to “cover an estimated 43,000 nautical miles around the Pacific, visiting 36 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories, and more than 300 ports … to ignite a movement of 10 million ‘planetary navigators’ by developing young leaders and engaging communities around the world to take part in navigating earth toward a healthy, thriving future.”
3:30 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s sent photos (the one above is from Shaun) and questions about that fleet of boats in view from west-facing West Seattle, first headed northbound and now eastbound into Elliott Bay. MarineTraffic.com shows it’s the entire Kitsap Transit foot-ferry fleet, 10 boats. The reason for the group trip – photo op, perhaps? – we don’t know yet but will update when we do.
4:31 PM: Kitsap Transit confirmed to us via Twitter/X: “We are working on capturing photos and videos of our ferry fleet today.”
5:13 PM: KT spokesperson Sanjay Bhatt adds via email that this is the first time they’ve ever done this.
As that photo sent by Amber shows (along with others emailed by readers – thank you!), it’s a busy day on Elliott Bay. The question: What’s everyone fishing for? The answer, salmon. Two types, according to Mark Yuasa with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, who tells WSB, “Pink salmon are starting to arrive into Puget Sound,, and with almost 4 million expected to return, this should really generate a lot of anglers onto the water. This weekend inner-Elliott Bay also opens for Chinook salmon fishing.” That’s today through Monday (August 7th); for more on the pink-salmon season, go here.
12:31 PM: Now in view from Alki, the Seafair Parade of Ships, sailing past West Seattle on the way to the downtown waterfront. Participants as announced:
US Navy: USS Barry (DDG 52), a guided-missile destroyer homeported in Everett
U.S. Coast Guard: USCGC Robert Ward (WPC-1130), a cutter based in Los Angeles, and USCGC Henry Blake (WLM-563), a buoy tender (note: MarineTraffic.com IDs suggest the USCGC Wahoo [WPB 87345] is in the parade instead of or in addition to Robert Ward)
The fireboat Leschi is greeting them, too:
12:47 PM: Approaching Duwamish Head. TV and Coast Guard helicopters in the area, too.
1:19 PM: The ships have passed West Seattle and are now downtown-bound, while we head back to HQ. As noted above, USCGC Wahoo sailed instead of USCGC Robert Ward; SPD’s Harbor 2 kept watch after it.
2:10 PM: Photos added, ours unless otherwise credited, like this one from Gary Jones at Alki Point – he noted the USS Barry was flying the flag of Hawai’i until swapped out just before the parade started passing West Seattle’s shore:
Information on touring the visiting ships this week is here.
This is Seafair‘s big week, and some of it will be visible from West Seattle. On Wednesday, expect Blue Angels fly-bys before the U.S. Navy demonstration team arrives at Boeing Field around 1:30 pm, but first, there’s the Seafair Fleet arrival tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1st), passing West Seattle’s Elliott Bay shores on their way to “parade” past the downtown waterfront. Today, Seafair has announced which ships are participating:
US Navy: USS Barry (DDG 52), a guided-missile destroyer homeported in Everett
The ships are due along the downtown waterfront at 1 pm so their West Seattle pass should be in the noon hour; you can usually get a good view anywhere from the Alki promenade to Seacrest Pier. Later this week they’ll be open for tours at three downtown locations – on Pier 46, Terminal 66, and Pier 68; the schedules are on the Seafair website.
11:31 AM: The first canoe families are arriving at Alki Beach after leaving Suquamish following a two-night stay during the first Canoe Journey since before the pandemic, the Paddle to Muckleshoot. Up to 100 canoes are expected.
Lots of backstory in our preview published last night. Hundreds of people are here, lining the beach and seawall, as arriving canoe families ask and are granted permission to come ashore.
(4:14 pm note: The stream just concluded, but you should be able watch a recorded replay here)
1:04 PM: The live stream we mentioned last night continues, showing a member of each arriving canoe family making the request, and Muckleshoot members on shore welcoming them.
The speeches – given in both Native languages and English – have been poignant, as some have spoken of “so much loss these past few years,” primarily because of the pandemic. One said they had lost their skipper to COVID. But the exchanges also have been joyful as the hosts promise the visitors “We will sing, we will dance, we will feast together.”
That will happen at the Muckleshoot Community Center in Auburn, to which the visitors will be taken by shuttle bus.
First, canoes are carried out of the water, and are parked on the beach. Many also carry flags showing where they’re from.
The paddles tell stories too.
One skipper spoke with a bit of humor:
The list of participating canoe families is here. Some families have traveled in more than one canoe. Some canoes carried members of multiple Indigenous nations and cultures – we heard introductions mentioning Hawai’i, the Navajo Nation, even the Maori of New Zealand.
4 PM: The live stream is still going as a few last canoes arrive. Some also have asked for permission to send their canoes home – by trailer – once they land. (Added: Doug Eglington saw some departures from Don Armeni:)
Many remain on the Alki sand for now, as Jamie Kinney‘s photo shows:
One of the last arrivals carried people from Alaska and B.C. The woman who spoke for them to ask permission also said they had come to ask for help in healing the Earth: “The world is toxic … support us in protecting babies and moms.”
4:13 PM: Minutes later, the final arrival – the Muckleshoot’s own canoe family. Tribal chair Jaison Elkins welcomed them.
7:09 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s sent photos! These next three are from David Hutchinson:
And these two are from Theresa Arbow-O’Connor – note the fireboat in the background of the first photo:
P.S. We drove through Alki at sunset and saw many canoes remaining on the beach, so if you missed the chance to see them, some will certainly be there tomorrow. This map shows the routes and dates taken to get here.
About 50 canoes were registered to participate. The short-course race started at 9 am and the long-course (12 miles) waves are scheduled to start around 10:30. The event ends with an award ceremony around 3:30 pm. More photos later!
6:53 PM: As promised:
The results will be posted here.
The major Seafair events are about to begin – and we have West Seattle notes on 3 of them:
MISS HOMESTREET IN WEST SEATTLE: On its way to the Tri-Cities races this weekend and the Seafair races next weekend, the Miss HomeStreet hydroplane was parked outside HomeStreet Bank-West Seattle (WSB sponsor) tonight. Above are Sharon, Bob, and Joyce from HomeStreet, and Bryan from the Miss HomeStreet crew. The hydro also was in last Saturday’s West Seattle Grand Parade.
SPEAKING OF PARADES … The Seafair Fleet Week Parade of Ships sails past West Seattle’s Elliott Bay shoreline on its way downtown, and that’s happening next Tuesday (August 1st). The ships are due downtown around 1 pm, which means they should be passing West Seattle around noon. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet but it will include a U.S. Navy destroyer as well as U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships; the participant ships then will be open for tours later in the week.
BLUE ANGELS: The U.S. Navy’s demonstration team is back for the Seafair airshow this year, and they’re scheduled to arrive at Boeing Field around 1:30 pm Wednesday (August 2nd). We’re checking on whether one of the non-performing jets is scheduled to be here earlier in the week as is usually the case. The full Seafair airshow lineup and schedule for next Friday-Sunday (August 4-6) is here; the Blue Angels usually go up for practice flights on Thursday too.
Thanks to Mike Y. for the photo of the Zhen Hua 23 as it passed West Seattle, northbound, this afternoon. That’s the ship we showed you June 23rd as it passed, southbound, headed for Tacoma, carrying four new port cranes from ZPMC in China. Two were dropped off at the Washington United Terminal in Tacoma; the other two are now on their way to Los Angeles. We’ll see a similar sight this fall when two new cranes are brought to West Seattle’s Terminal 5 for its second modernized berth.
ADDED: One more photo from today, sent by Jerry Simmons: