|Finally! Some good news for Alaska!
Lawmakers approve $66.7M appropriation to run Alaska
Alas, no, the Wickersham will not be coming back. She was scrapped some time ago. But she'll always be my favorite.
|Ellis # 627
"Mt St Helens from Harmony Falls Park, WN"
This time of year always turns my thoughts to Mount St. Helens--and maybe more so this year than in years past as it marks the
40th Anniversary of the volcano's awakening and the big eruption that took place on May 18th, 1980.
I've always felt sympathy for folks who never knew the mountain and Spirit Lake before the eruption, because, as Ellis captured
in postcard after postcard, it really was a magical place--almost too perfect to be real, with the lake at its foot and the nearly
perfect cone rising above the emerald green carpet of forest at its feet. Douglas firs, some as high as two hundred feet lined
the shores of the lake, and the Mount St. Helens back country was a recreational paradise, with camping, fishing, hiking,
climbing, and hunting.
While I'll never be one to downplay the mystical qualities of the area, because it was remarkable, it was also under assault at
the time. Left out of any national park or wilderness area, logging was encroaching closer and closer to the mountain and Spirit
Lake. Whole mountainsides were clear cut and laid bare. After the eruption, in fact, on his way to the mountain to view the
devastation, President Jimmy Carter remarked about the untold destruction--only to be told they hadn't gotten there yet and
what he was looking at was a swath of clear-cut timber.
Ironically, it took total destruction of the landscape to protect it. Realizing that science would have an unique opportunity to
witness first-hand the recovery of a landscape from the ground up, the Mount Saint Helens National Monument was created in
August, 1982. Spirit Lake and the area around it would be preserved for future generations and would be set aside for
Lately there have been calls to make the monument more accessible to recreation, and to change its status from National
Monument to National Park to increase the funding for the area, and to open the research zone to the public. The argument for
and against it equally valid. Unfortunately, the public use side has not proven themselves to be tremendously respectful to the
areas they already utilize. Iconic photos of the volcano with fields of wildflowers in the foreground can only be captured by
leaving the trail and tromping over the very plants being photographed.
Even after 40 years, there is much to still be learned from the volcano, and, in all likelihood, its current quiet period is only
another pause in its activity cycle. One day it may send out another blast as it did in 1980, and start the whole process over
|Goodbye Elwha. (And don't come back!)
With little fanfare, and given the current circumstances that's understandable, the governor signed the supplemental transportation bill yesterday, ( April 1, 2020) according to the Everett
Herald. Part of the savings achieved in the plan in the wake of the latest cut to the transportation budget courtesy of I-976 was to retire the Elwha and not invest in the millions in repairs it
needs in order to meet Coast Guard regulations. It wasn't a hard decision to make. The 52-year-old vessel needs substantial steel renewals that make it uneconomic to repair. As the
head of the DOT put, the repairs cost more than the vessel was worth the ferry system. Even if the steel had been renewed, it doesn't fix the backlog in other maintenance and repair
needs, which, at last check, was tens of millions of dollars more.
The Elwha was never my favorite ferry. After the battering she took in 1990, when, in truth, she should have been scrapped at that point, she was never the same again. She was
top-heavy, more so than any of the other Supers, she still had parts of the notoriously schizophrenic Ross-Hill propulsion system in operation, and she handled very poorly in rough
seas--downright frightening the way she's hang on a roll, shudder from stem to stern, and lurch drunkenly. None of the captains I ever spoke to trusted the vessel, and few people are
shedding tears at her retirement.
The Sidney run will be down to the Chelan for a few years. Nothing new for the Chelan. The last few years the Elwha has been out of service more than she has been operating.
Fortunately, the Chelan is one of the more dependable ferries in the fleet. (As are all of the Issaquahs, truthfully, which is ironic given their rocky start.) Part of the new transportation bill was
a provision to look into retrofitting an existing vessel for SOLAS standards to make the Sidney run. The Suquamish, with its tier 4 emissions controls is the ideal candidate, as the run from
Anacortes to Sidney is currently outside the range of a hybrid vessel.
Goodbye, Elwha, and given your notoriety, it's hard not to say "good riddance" as well.
Photo by the author.
Pandemics aside, ferries still break
Just ask the Queen of Oak Bay.
Ferry breaks down at Departure Bay, several sailings cancelled
Author's collection. Old postcard. What can I say? I always liked the old B.C. Ferries pastel blue best.
|Where is my boat?
Sure, ridership has fallen, but reducing service to one boat...forcing more
people to take one sailing because of lack of service doesn't seem exactly right
As ridership falls, fewer state ferries will sail
The Wenatchee in happier times. She's currently holding down the Bainbridge route alone. Photo courtesy of Matt
|Oriental President, second life of
the President Cleveland
C.Y. Tung, the Taiwanese shipping magnate, loved ships. He had a longstanding record
of picking up well-known and loved liners, refurbishing them, and running them as cruise
ships and cargo liners until just about every ounce of profit could be wrung out of them. In
doing so, many liners that would have seen the scrap yards got an extended life working for
the Orient Overseas Line--although with the oil embargo, the Oriental President's life was
Among the many famous vessels to don the famous livery with the cherry-blossom funnels
was the former American President Line's President Cleveland, a brief history of which can
be found here.
** Standard disclaimer --may not be completely current due to
maintenance needs, and with the covid-19 pandemic, who can say at this
Winter schedule runs from 4 January 2020 to 25 April
ANACORTES - SAN JUAN
KITSAP - SAMISH - CHELAN
ANACORTES - SIDNEY
Suspended until Spring Schedule.
PORT TOWNSEND -
MUKILTEO - CLINTON
EDMONDS - KINGSTON
SEATTLE - WINSLOW
(AKA Bainbridge Island)
SEATTLE - BREMERTON
SOUTHWORTH -VASHON -
POINT DEFIANCE -
IN THE YARD
Previous Day Room
Hyak...Kumtux...Klatawa...Kaleetan... Say what now?
It seems there were some changes along the way. Article dates from 19 January 1966.