Official Number: 662478 Call Sign: WAK7089 Length: 328' Beam: 78' 8'' Draft: 15' 6'' Auto Deck Clearance: 16' Horsepower: 5,000
Speed in Knots: 16 Max Passengers: 1200 Max Vehicles: 90 City Built: Seattle Year Built/Re-built: 1982/2006
Name Translation: The Native American/Chinook two syllable pronunciation (See-alth) of Seattle,
the chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who befriended early settlers in the1850-60's.
The Sealth sailing in the San Juans. Photo courtesy of Dietrich Menzer.
The Sealth is the last of the Issaquah Class in more ways the one.
She was the last of the sextet built, the last remaining in the 100 (now
90) car configuration and the last to receive an interior make-over.
Completed in 1982, it would be three years before the ferry would
officially join the Washington State Ferries fleet, wrapped up in
continuing disputes with her builders, the now long defunct Marine
Power and Equipment. Finally accepted, the ferry worked mainly at
Bremerton, but would also fill in for other Issaquahs as needed.
By the 1990's she could most often be found on the Bremerton run
working with her sister Kitsap. As the 1990's progressed, only the
Sealth and the Chelan hadn't been expanded to carry more cars.
At the turn of the century the Sealth was working more and more in
the San Juan Islands. Plans had originally called for her to get the
second car deck added, however it was discovered that her high deck
clearance in all the tunnels of her car deck proved to be very useful in
the Islands. She settled into a routine of working the off season in the
islands and summers filling in on the south sound, usually at Vashon
As the years progressed, her interior became an increasing
embarrassment. No amount of cleaning could help it. Her "rainbow"
color had been green. The tiles, once a vibrant shade of green had
faded to a rather unappetizing seasick shade. The ceiling tiles were
still stained with years of cigarette smoke from the days when that
habit was still allowed inside the ferries, and the benches and
upholstery were wearing out.
In the summer of 2006 the ferry went into the yard for a well earned
face lift. The new interior of the Sealth is perhaps the most distinctive
of the six sisters. Using some of her original "rainbow" color, the
Sealth has been fitted out with shades of green in the tile and
upholstery. Complimenting the green is an appealing dark blue. The
floor tile received a pattern unlike anything else in fleet (which has
since been repeated on the Issaquah and Tacoma) and it is one of
those types of things that you either love or hate.
At the same time as her interior renovation the ferry received a fresh
coat of paint. WSF had apparently had some issues with paint in the
past (as was evident on the Yakima and Chelan) and went with a new
brand. The result was a slightly more vivid green on the Sealth, but
more importantly it seems to be more durable. The Sealth still looks
freshly painted many years later.
Today the Sealth works mainly as a relief boat for the Evergreens or,
in a pinch, an Issaquah Class. Fall and winter will generally find her
working as boat # 3 in the San Juan Islands.
The Sealth's refurbished interior, with the unique tile pattern. At right, the galley. All photos courtesy
of Brandon Moser. Mouse over for the before photos.
At left the Sealth, passing her older cousin, the Tillikum while working on the Vashon run. Early in the development of the six ferries, they were referred to as the
"New Evergreen State Class" a name that, thankfully, didn't stick anymore than "rainbow class." Photo courtesy of Matt Masuoka.