The ferry Ballard is probably remembered more for her stint on
Lake Union as the "Four Winds" restaurant and later as the
"Surfside 9" where she sank not only once, but twice.
Constructed in 1900 as the City of Everett, the passenger steamer
was stripped down to her hull and rebuilt as the Liberty in about
1924. She worked for the Kitsap County Transportation Company,
who eventually changed her over to a diesel ferry and renamed her
As the Ballard, she worked on the Suquamish-Indianola-Ballard
route for many years. Quite unrecognizable as the former trim
Mosquito Fleet steamer, the ferry nevertheless had touches of
elegance built into her. After taking over for KCTC, Black Ball pulled
the Ballard from service and removed her diesel engine for use on
Sold off by Black Ball, she later opened as the upscale "Golden
Anchors" and later the “Four Winds" and was a top-rated
restaurant. Later, after the World's Fair was over, she became the
kitschy "Surfside 9" complete with a leering over-sized pirate
attached to her roof.
Then one morning in July 1966 the cook arrived and found the
dining room, kitchen and bar flooded with water that reached table-
top level. A police patrol boat and the Seattle fire department were
called in to pump the boat dry.
Meanwhile a piano floated like an iceberg in the bar and the tropical
fish in an aquarium stayed "dry" just inches from the lake water.
She had settled upright in 24 feet of water after Seattle City Light
had cut off the power for non-payment of the electric bill. The
pumps in her bilge, which had been keeping her dry, stopped and
the water filled the hull and the boat sank. The restaurant sued and
the case ended up in the state supreme court, which ruled that City
Light was within their rights to shut off the electricity for non-
payment of the bill.
Dried out, the venerable ferry was purchased by Youth Adventures
Inc and was about to be converted to a youth center when literally
hours before she was to be moved into drydock on May 13,1967,
she sank again, this time on an uneven keel at a 45-degree angle.
Raised a second time, the old ferry was finally broken up in 1973.
The rumor is that the policy at Seattle City Light has been to leave
the power on to vessels despite delinquent bills ever since—figuring
it better to rack up debt than to be the cause of sending a vessel to
the bottom and creating a costly clean up mess instead.
|Above: the interior of the Ballard was fairly plush, and included carpeting in the passenger
cabin--something of a rarity at the time.
|Now serving seafood....
The old ferry Ballard went through a number of name changes and
owners as the years progressed. She started out as the "Golden
Anchors" and was moored on Lake Washington. She then moved to
Lake Union and operated as the upscale "Four Winds" for many
years. By the end of her career, and in a slightly run down condition
she operated as the "Surfside 9." It was in the last guise she sank
on Lake Union.
PREVIOUS/LATER NAMES: a. City of Everett, b. Liberty, c. Ballard. As floating restaurant: Golden Anchors, Four Winds, Surfside 9.
OFFICIAL NUMBER: 127487
L/B/D: 155 x 30 x 9 GROSS/NET TONS: 226/154 PASSENGERS/AUTOS: 250/40
PROPULSION: Washington Estep Diesel, 650 HP
NAME TRANSLATION: From the city of the same name; named for Capt. William Rankin Ballard, who settled the area in 1882.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Retired as a ferryboat in 1944 to become a floating restaurant on Lake Washington. Later moved to Lake Union. After sinking twice at
Lake Union, the former floating restaurant was finally broken up in 1973.
|Above, a clipping from the May, 1931 edition of Marine & Rail magazine announces the start of the new
ferry service with the rebuilt Liberty now under the name Ballard. Below, the Ballard's plush interior
included wall-to wall carpeting.