Official Number: 5118223. Call Sign: WY2988 Length: 382' 2'' Beam: 73' 2'' Draft: 18' 6'' Auto Deck Clearance: 16' Horsepower: 8,000
Speed in Knots: 17 Max Passengers: 2000 Max Vehicles: 144 City Built: San Diego Year Built/Re-built: 1967/2000 Name Translation: Native American/Chinook: "people of the
narrow river." A city, county and river are also named after the English
spelling of the tribe.
The Yakima with her 50 year stripes in the late spring of 2018. Photo courtesy of Brandon Moser.
The Yakima spent her first years at Bremerton before being moved up to the
Kingston-Edmonds route. She was paired on the route for a number of years
with the Issaquah Class ferry Chelan. As more and more commuters from the
north end of Kitsap County took to the Kingston-Edmonds route and bus and
train connections in Edmonds to take them down to Seattle, the Yakima was
shifted northward after being replaced by the Walla Walla.
Since 1999 she has called the San Juan Islands home, where her freight
capacity and low wake have made her, like the other Super Class ferries (except
the squatty and much heavier Elwha) ideal for working the narrow passages
between the islands.
When sent in for her mid-life upgrade in 1999, the Yakima emerged with some
flourishes not in the others of her class--different designs in her tile, including an
attractive compass rose in the galley. The use of darker materials throughout
made the ferry's new interior more striking than that of her sister Kaleetan.
Unfortunately when she was painted it seems that it didn't quite adhere as it
should have. Almost at once it began to bubble and peel, and before long the
exterior of the Yakima was a mess. Large portions of paint were peeling in the
shelter decks, car deck and other areas of the vessel, and it wasn't long before
the outside began to look every bit as bad. It was nearly a contest to see which
could look worse--the Hyak or the Yakima.
For the 2010-2011 maintenance season the Yakima finally got some yard time
and was fully painted.
While the paint has been renewed, mechanically the Yakima and the entire class
are still using over fifty year old drive motors which have been obsolete for nearly
three decades. The reliability of the entire class has been slipping in recent
years as mechanical problems have begun to surface with more regularity. The
Yakima spent the summer of 2014 out of service having the drive motor rebuilt.
She was in service for only a few weeks when more troubles arose and she spent
much of the fall schedule in the yard as well. The summer of 2017 saw her
sidelined with generator problems for weeks.
Currently she is scheduled to go into the yard in late July 2018 to replace both
propellers, one which was damaged in the spring of 2018 resulting in the Yakima
running at half speed with a horrible vibration for months. The entire 5-blade
propeller program has been an abject failure for WSF--which they would have
known had they gone back and looked at newspaper articles from the 1980s--the
last time they tried 5 blade propellers. It seems the only 5-blade prop that
actually reduced vibration for any of the WSF fleet was the one installed on the
Back in the 1960's...
The construction, launch and inaugural run of each Super Class ferry was a major event. The first new ferries in
nearly a decade were also the largest in the United States and the largest double-ended ferries in the world at
Washington State Ferries commissioned a different commorative booklet for each vessel, and one for the class
as a whole--all of which are highly collectible today.
The Yakima's booklet displays some nice artwork, along with photos of her launch on the inside, as well as
photos of some of the boats the ferry would retire. Note that by the time of the Yakima's arrival the paint line on
the drawing had been adjusted. Author's collection.
The Yakima's refurbished interior. The darker blues in both the upholstery and floor tiles help set her apart
from her nearly identical sister Kaleetan. Photos courtesy of Brandon Moser.