After much public support the first ferry in the new 64 car ferry has been
named Chetzemoka. The Jefferson County Historical Society led the charge
to have the new ferry named in honor of both the famous S'Kallam chief and
the Wood Electric ferry of the same name. There was widespread support
for the name by visitors to my site as well, many of whom let WSF and the
DOT let them know of their support for the name.
For the record, Chetzemoka was a S'Klallam Chief. The S'Klallam were led
by Chetzemoka's older brother S'Hai-ak when white settlers first arrived in
their territory around 1851 and it was he who granted permission for their
settlement, Port Townsend. When S'Hai-ak drowned soon after, Chetzemoka
succeeded to leadership of the S'Klallam. Chetzemoka was friendly toward
the new settlers who dubbed him "Duke of York." In the early 1850's he
traveled to San Francisco, which impressed Chief Chetzemoka and solidly
placed him as allied to the Americans. He was instrumental in resolving the
1868 Dungeness Massacre when S'Klallam raiders killed 17 Tsimshians.
Chetzemoka died at about age eighty.
In 1904 the Port Townsend city park was named in his honor.
The Chetzemoka finished fitting out in July 2010 and started to undergo sea
trials. It was readily apparent that there was a problem--she shook harder
than the Kalakala ever dreamed of, and this was with a five blade prop
WSF put some corrections on the software which smoothed out the
vibration. Over the longer term, the fact that they replaced the composite
shaft with one of stainless steel could have some bearing on the vibration
issues. Other issues arose. It was quickly realized there is no way to
properly clean the lower windows. All the ferries in the fleet have a catwalk
to allow crews to get out and wash the windows when the ferries are docked.
For unknown reasons, none was not built on the Kwa di Tabils. In addition,
the rub rail--essentially the bumper around the ferry--was constructed to
small to be of any use, which resulted in a cracked window while at dock.
The ferry went back to the yard and had "bumpers" put on until the rubrail
until permanent replacements were added later.
With much ceremony, the ferry went into service on 15 November 2010.
After spending over a year on the Port Townsend-Keystone run, it was
announced to the dismay of many in Port Townsend that the ferry would be
reassigned to the Point Defiance-Tahlequah run. This was done, according
to management, because of the propulsion systems being indenticle on the
Salish and Kennewick so as to make it "easier for the crews." This is an
idiotic notion. Masters and mates at WSF are trained to operate any vessel
in the fleet, and have to change boats frequently. The Chetzemoka was
going to be assigned to Point Defiance all along because the Salish and
Kennewick are more suited to Port Townsend route with their variable pitch
propellers. For WSF management to imply any other reason is
disingenuous and insulting to the crews.
The move to Point Defiance was not without issues. The crossing, which is
just over a mile, does not allow for the engines to operate in the manner in
which they were designed. Exhaust built up in the stack, and the stack
promptly caught on fire, pulling the Chetzemoka out of service for a time.
The issue has been resolved, and the ferry has been on the route with no
similar problem since--but it still burns more fuel than her much older (and
much missed) predecessor the Rhododendron did.
Length: 273' 8" Engines: 2 Beam: 64' Horsepower: 6,000 Draft: 11' Speed in Knots: 16 Max Passengers: 750 Propulsion: DIESEL
Max Vehicles: 64 Gross Tonnage: 4623 Tall Deck Space: 9 City Built: Seattle Auto Deck Clearance: 16' 0" Year Built / Re-built: 2010
Meaning of Chetzemoka: The name honors a friendly Native American Chief of the Klallam Tribe near the Port Townsend area who died in 1888.
The Chetzemoka on the Point Defiance-Tahlequah run. Photo courtesy of Brandon Swan.
At top,the green interior and main stairs on the Chetzemoka.. Photo courtesy of Thomas Gill.
Below, looking toward the galley on the Chetzemoka. Photo courtesy of Zack Heistand. The
layout of the cabin has been described as "maze-like" by more than one passenger.