Nice Day, Pretty Colors....
Beating out several other names, the first of the
Olympic Class ferries was dubbed
Tokitae in
November of 2012.  The name honors not only the
century-old tradition of naming ferries on Puget Sound
with Chinook/Native American names, but also the
Orca whale captured off Whidbey Island in the 1970's.
The whale, since renamed Lolita, is still held captive at
the Miami Seaquarium and there is a vocal contingent
of people calling for Tokitae/Lolita's return to the wild,
particularly given the endangered state of the local
orca population on Puget Sound.

After a seventy-five day delay due to tweaks and
change orders, the
Tokitae was finally accepted by
the state in early June of 2014.  She immediately
began sea-trials, but it was clear that with the late
acceptance date the vessel was not going to make it
for the start of summer schedule on June 15th, 2014.

Meanwhile, a highly successful open house was held,
attracting some 800 people to tour the vessel.  
Reviews were mostly positive, with much praise being
given to the room interior and the cavernous car
deck.  However, a few flaws have already surfaced,
including the sharp transition of the upper ramps.  It's
`very likely that lower vehicles will bottom out in
climbing the ramp, a flaw that will necessitate a costly
fix.

The interior of the boat, given the recent
refurbishment to vessels in the fleet, was surprisingly
bland.  Tan and gray have been used throughout,
hearkening back to the utilitarian original interiors
(and still present on the
Hyak) of the Super Class.

A short delay was announced...only to be punted
again by the state as captains and crews requested
more time to break in the vessel and get more training
on the brand new vessel.  This was granted, and an
official start date was not announced.

In the end, the
Tokitae  arrived fifteen days late--not
too bad for the first of a brand new class and a  brand
new boat.
Hey...I've seen that 144 before!
Kinda sorta.

Back in 1974-75 when the first contract was
written up for the "new Evergreen ferries" as
they were being called, this design was brought
out. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it
was the vessel was capable of being sliced in
half to have section added to expand capacity
at a later date--something B.C. Ferries had
been doing successfully for years.

There were to be three of these vessels built
(although listed as Issaquah here, there hadn't
been any names chosen at the time) but the
sole bidder on the contract from a shipyard in
the southern U.S. came in so much over budget
that the contract was recalled and the ferries
were never built.  A new contract was drawn up
a year later for six slightly smaller ferries.  
Marine Power and Equipment got the contract
and the rest, as they say, is history.

When WSDOT first released the drawings of the
new 144's, it was hard not to see the similarities
between the old drawing from 1975 and the new
144's.

Drawing of the unbuilt Issaquah Class courtesy
of Johan Iversen.
TOKITAE
Year built: 2014  Passenger Capacity: 1,500  Vehicle capacity: 144 Auto Deck Height: 8' Tall vehicle clearance height: 16'
Number of side-by-side- motorhomes: 3
Length: 362' 3" Beam: 82' 2" Draft: 18' Propulsion: 2 diesel engines Horsepower: 6,000  Speed: 17 knots

The Tokitae and an orange sky.  Photo courtesy of Dietrich Menzer.
Interior photos of the Tokitae are courtesy of Brandon Swan.