West Seattle, Washington
When we reported on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas lingering in the area a month ago, the Port of Seattle told us it would be back. And today, it is (thanks for the tips), anchored at what’s known as Yukon Harbor, off Manchester, north of Blake Island. After the Alaska cruising season, it was originally scheduled to cruise Australia this winter, but the pandemic canceled that. The port told us it’s scheduled to spend some time in December docked at Pier 66 downtown. The ship isn’t currently scheduled for anything before the next Alaska cruising season opens in May.
After a pandemic off-year, the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship set sail again tonight – and its first stop was West Seattle, where a crowd lined the shore at Don Armeni Boat Ramp
They heard The Dickens Carolers sing holiday classics from on board – we recorded part of their 20-minute performance:
As listed in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide, the Christmas Ship will make two more West Seattle stops, both tomorrow night – 5:35 pm outside Salty’s on Alki (1936 Harbor Avenue SW; WSB sponsor), and 8:35 pm at Alki Beach Park, near the Bathhouse (60th/Alki), with a bonfire planned. That’s it for WS stops this year but you can see the entire season’s schedule here.
We’ve received a few tips/questions about a foot ferry stopped off Alki. That’s the Kitsap Transit vessel Enetai. We contacted KT; spokesperson Sanjay Bhatt says it’s “rendering aid to a disabled vessel.” (No details on that other vessel, which isn’t showing on MarineTraffic.com.)
Thanks to everyone who sent photos! The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) headed out of Bremerton this morning for the first time since March; it’s been undergoing maintenance since then. This isn’t a departure for deployment, according to Josh Farley of the Kitsap Sun – just preparation.
Thanks to Gary Jones for sending the photo from Alki Point this murky afternoon. The cruise ship Ovation of the Seas is headed out again (but as we reported over the weekend, it’ll be back). The fishing boats, meantime, are purse seiners making their almost-annual appearance – this area is open to this kind of salmon fishing until 6 pm today. Jim Borrow says it’s been a busy day, sending this photo from the same area:
Jim wrote, “Mid-morning I counted 7 to 9 fishing boats off Bainbridge Is. and Alki, including the one very close to the shore in the near foreground and the one in the distance in this photo.”
In today’s bright sunlight, the cruise ship anchored off Manchester – Ovation of the Seas – was particularly eye-catching from west-facing West Seattle. As we’ve reported previously, after concluding the Alaska cruise season, it was supposed to head to the Southern Hemisphere for an Australia cruise season, but that was canceled due to COVID-related travel restrictions. So it’s been hanging around in Washington waters. Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw sent an update at week’s end:
Royal Caribbean International’s the Ovation of Seas will continue to spend more time around Puget Sound in the coming winter months under minimal operations. Currently, she is anchored in Yukon Harbor in Kitsap County, where the U.S. Coast Guard determines the berthing locations. She’ll spend approximately one week at anchor before heading out to coastal and international waters. She’ll then return to Pier 66 for the day on Friday, Nov. 12 for provisioning, bunkering, and crew movements. Then it’s back to Yukon Harbor and other movements out to sea before coming back to Pier 66 on Monday, Dec. 13 for more operations during the day. While in our waters, Ovation of the Seas utilizes marine gas oil (MGO), a low-sulfur fuel. In between these locations, it will be very possible to continue to see the Ovation of the Seas throughout our area.
It’s more common to see cargo ships at anchor where the cruise ship is now; we reported on the ongoing cargo backup earlier this week.
3:46 PM: Two days ago, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas moved from Pier 90 at the Port of Seattle‘s Smith Cove terminal and dropped anchor in the middle of Elliott Bay. Earlier this year, cruise ships were at anchor when all the docks were full. Right now, that’s not the case. So we’ve received a few questions. The ship’s future schedule appears to be in flux; its Australia cruise season for 2021-2022 was recently canceled because travel restrictions Down Under remain tight. As for its continued stay in Seattle, we asked Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw, who says, “It will be hanging around in the near future, after our last passenger cruise vessel NCL Encore departs on Saturday afternoon. It may be conducting operations around the Sound or even berthed at Pier 66.” (That’s the cruise-ship dock on the downtown waterfront.) It had to leave Pier 91 because the space was needed for other vessels: “When we need our facilities for other tenants, like fishing vessels back from Alaska or other needs outside the cruise season, they have to go elsewhere until there’s an opening, like at 66 later next week.”
7:10 PM: Since we photographed it at mid-afternoon, the ship has in fact headed out on “operations around the Sound” – MarineTraffic.com shows it off Whidbey Island right now, northbound.
Thanks to Danny McMillin for the photo! A sailboat appears to have gotten a close-up look at this submarine as it passed between West Seattle and Bainbridge Island a few hours ago. MarineTraffic.com doesn’t identify the sub beyond “U.S. Warship” but shows that it is still northbound right now, off Whidbey Island.
Thanks to Jim Borrow for sending the photo! That’s the Galloway Express, seen off West Seattle a few hours ago, headed southbound to Olympia. It’s a livestock carrier, built in China for the Dutch shipping company Vroon. (For our fellow maritime geeks, here are its specs.) According to MarineTraffic.com, the Galloway Express’s last port of call was Oita, Japan, which is known for, among other things, Wagyu beef. But Olympia also has exported cattle, too; we’re checking with the port to see if they have details on this voyage.
Thanks to Doug Eglington for the photo. A few people mentioned the odd sight at Don Armeni Boat Ramp over the weekend – an overturned. boat right at the launch. All we could determine was that there was no emergency response logged in connection with it. One texter said they’d reported it to the Harbor Patrol, but Sunday it was still there. Then today the tow truck showed up. We checked with SPD; no report written, but they did note that officers on Saturday “notified the registered owner of the boat that it could be impounded.”
Thanks to David Hutchinson for the photo. The small cruise ship American Constellation sailed into Elliott Bay today. It carries up to 175 passengers – a tiny fraction of the other ships that sail from/to Seattle. The ship is scheduled to sail out of Seattle tomorrow on a 10-night “Grand Puget Sound Cruise” (see the itinerary here). Four other sailings from Seattle are on its schedule in October and November.
A month and a half after a reduction-gear problem took it out of service – just as it was scheduled for a month of maintenance anyway – Washington State Ferries‘ M/V Cathlamet is back on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route as of this afternoon. The 124-car Cathlamet replaced the 90-car Sealth, so this boosts capacity on the run,.
we wondered about the ceremony that these roses were part of. They were drifting on the water just south of the [Fauntleroy] ferry dock this late afternoon. They were starting to scatter; we counted 10.
We sent thoughts of Peace and Comfort.
Thanks for sending the photo! A reader noticed the SS Cape Island passing West Seattle, northbound, this afternoon. We’ve shown it two previous times in the past 12 years; it’s a Tacoma-based Ready Reserve Force ship, 45 years old, 685 feet long, steam-powered. It’s still headed north in Puget Sound right now, passing Whidbey Island per MarineTraffic.com, destination not listed.
(WSB file photo)
After skipping a year because of the pandemic, the Great Cross-Sound Race, to/from Alki is back this Saturday (August 21st). The Sound Rowers and Paddlers club organizes the race from Alki to Blakely Rock off Bainbridge, and back (seven miles). The course is far enough offshore that you’ll need binoculars to watch the start and finish, but the organizers and spectators are usually along the promenade by Alki Bathhouse. Racing begins around 9 am. The course record – which has stood for 15 years – is 49:44.
The cruise ship that’s spent much of the past 2 weeks anchored off Manchester – in view from west-facing West Seattle – is finally docked downtown tonight, about to start its first official voyage of the season; Danny McMillin photographed Silver Muse as it sailed past Alki Point and into Elliott Bay today. It’s scheduled to leave Pier 66 at 7 pm Thursday on a 10-day round trip to Alaska. This year’s cruise season runs through late October; here’s the full schedule.
Thanks to Tom Stoner for the photo. In the foreground, escorted by a tug, is Washington State Ferries‘ M/V Cathlamet, the ferry that had a scare Saturday afternoon (WSB coverage here) when a smoky mechanical problem hit while it was between Vashon and Fauntleroy. It’s now at WSF’s Bainbridge Island maintenance site, Eagle Harbor. WSF hasn’t yet announced how long it’ll be out of service; two boats are on the Triangle Route today as has been standard lately, but a third boat – M/V Issaquah – is now tied up at Vashon. In the background of the photo is Silversea Cruises’ Silver Muse, which spent a while anchored off Manchester recently, then took off and sailed up Puget Sound, into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and off the Washington coast for a while before returning. Its first official cruise is scheduled to leave Seattle this Thursday (July 29th) for a 10-day Alaska cruise.
12:23 PM: If you were anywhere near Alki Point around quarter till 11 this morning, you might have heard cheering. It was for Melissa Kegler, the marathon swimmer who’s attempting to become the first to do a “double lap of the Amy Hiland Swim” right now. That means she’s swimming roundtrip between Bremerton and Alki, The rules permitted her to get out of the water for a few minutes at the halfway mark.
A small group of supporters including fellow members of the Notorious Alki Swimmers were there to cheer her on. The Amy Hiland Swim, named for the first person known to complete it (in 1959), is 10.4 miles – so Kegler is aiming for almost 21 miles of swimming today; she started at 6:17 am. The Northwest Open Water Swimming Association tells us she’s “an accomplished marathon swimmer who has completed the ‘Triple Crown’ of marathon swims: the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, and around Manhattan Island. She’s a regular at Alki Beach and has been training at Alki since 2014.” Today’s water temperature is in the mid-50s.
You can track Kegler’s progress here. This is the first of two big swims between Bremerton and Alki this weekend; as we reported Friday, six swimmers over 60 will swim the route as a relay tomorrow.
ADDED SATURDAY NIGHT: NOWSA reports Kegler finished the 20.8-mile swim in 10:35:13.
5:40 PM: Just got a tip that a Bremerton-bound aircraft carrier is coming into view. The Kitsap Sun reports it’s the USS Theodore Roosevelt. More to come – we’re headed downhill to see.
6:21 PM: The carrier’s turning into Rich Passage.
7:02 PM: Adding a photo, as seen from Constellation Park. The Sun’s Josh Farley reports the carrier has shifted homeports from San Diego to Bremerton for an extensive overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
An unusual sight off Seacrest this morning. The photo and report are from Catie:
A floatplane touched down in Elliott Bay a little after 9 am today. Pulled into the rocks at Seacrest Cove (by the pier closest to Salty’s). The pilot jumped out and checked on the plane, then hopped back in and took off.
Floatplane – more formally, seaplane – takeoffs/landings are a much-more common sight on Lake Union, north of downtown.
Seattle’s been seemingly awash in cruise ships for days now, so you might be surprised to hear that the official Seattle-to-Alaska season starts today. Around 5 pm, Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas is scheduled to leave the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal in Magnolia, and that’ll be this year’s first boatload of paying passengers (previous voyages have been “test cruises,” explained here). To mark the occasion, the Port of Seattle invited the media to a dockside briefing this morning. It included a ceremonial moment – the ship’s Captain Stig Nilsen presenting port executive director Steve Metruck with a plaque and a model of the ship.
Metruck declared that cruising is returning with improvements. Ships have implemented stringent COVID protocols, for one. But after our previous mentions generated reader discussion about environmental concerns, we asked Metruck what’s changed along those lines, He mentioned that the terminal at Smith Cove is equipped with shore power, and that it’s in the works for Pier 66 downtown. We learned from another port official, however, that this particular ship is not shore-power-ready, so it’s not plugged in, though the other ship currently berthed at Smith Cove, Majestic Princess, is. Maritime Managing Director Stephanie Jones Stebbins also told us that shore power capability for Pier 66 is scheduled to be ready for the 2023 cruise season – the problem until now, she said, is that they would have had to run a line from the Denny substation about a mile east, requiring a lot of road demolition, but instead, they came up with a way to route it via an underwater cable from Pier 46 to the south.
The emission situation, said Jones Stebbins, is not only a matter of plugged in vs. unplugged. She said exhaust scrubbing – explained here – is being used. Environmental advocates, however, say that just swaps air pollution for water pollution; Jones Stebbins says ships cannot discharge the scrubber water while berthed here. The state has a Memorandum of Understanding with the cruise industry on multiple environmental issues.
P.S. After today, the next official cruise departure is on Friday; here’s this year’s schedule.
4:25 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul and Eric Shalit for the tips – another elephant seal is in view off West Seattle. Eric saw it off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4500 block Beach Drive) around 1 pm; Kersti just texted that it’s headed slowly southbound, still in that area. It’s an adult male Northern Elephant Seal – the Seal Sitters update we published recently talks about their appearance in local waters.
ADDED 7:41 PM: The photo and update are from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:
Seal Sitters was contacted about this animal just before noon today. Volunteers were at Emma Schmitz Overlook for a period of time, early this afternoon, monitoring this seal just in case it came ashore. We believe this is probably the same animal that was hanging out in Puget Sound further to the south earlier in June. If you spot it in our area, please call the Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325.
9:21 AM: An unusual sight right now – cruise ships at anchor. Along with Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas in Elliott Bay, which we photographed last night, Silversea’s Silver Muse is anchored off Manchester, and that led to some reader emails this morning. Cruise ships are still in their testing phase before resuming paid-passenger cruises starting next week, and right now the regular berths in Seattle are already taken, so – as happens with cargo ships too – some are anchored in Coast Guard-administered spots. As we reported earlier this month, this year’s schedule has the first “revenue cruise” due in Monday.
9:52 AM: Thanks to Vlad Oustimovitch for sending this perspective of the Silver Muse off Manchester:
Along with the two at anchor, the three docked today are Nieuw Amsterdam and Majestic Princess at Pier 91, and Norwegian Encore at Pier 66.