If you follow my blog, Writing the Interisland, you already know how much I love the Washington State Ferries (WSF). Sure, they break down, get overloaded, and lumber along, but they’re the link between my home on Lopez Island and other islands in the San Juans and the mainland. Even more impressive, the vessels, part of the Washington State Department of Transportation, are part of the largest ferry system in the U.S. They carry nearly 25 million people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world.
The Salish Sea is always on my mind as I work with many, many others to protect her and her ecosystem. Writing as I ride the ferries is one way I stay in touch with what’s at stake as our climate changes. In the process, I’ve developed deep affection for the vessels (and crews) that navigate these seas. Five years ago, almost to the day, I blogged about the retirement of the MV Evergreen State. And today, after nearly 52 years in the Washington State Ferries’ fleet, MV Hyak will be decommissioned (retired) following its 9:05 p.m. scheduled sailing from Seattle to Bremerton.
It appears that Seattle Times reporter Christine Clarridge loves the ferries as much as I do (she commutes from Bremerton to Seattle daily). I’ll confess; her farewell letter to the Hyak choked me up.
MV Hyak is the first of WSF’s four Super-class ferries. Its name is tribal Chinook jargon meaning, “fast or speedy.” Construction began in 1966 at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company shipyard in San Diego. Once completed in 1967, it sailed to Seattle and entered state service, with fireworks, on the Seattle/Bremerton route in July of that year. Today the vessel’s exhaust stacks proudly display gold rings that signify 50 years of service in the system. Just before the stroke of July 2019, it will go into retirement.
Over the years, the Hyak has served on almost every route in Puget Sound, but primarily worked Bremerton-Seattle, Kingston-Edmonds and the San Juan Islands route. Orcas Island’s online newspaper, Orcas Issues, paid tribute to the vessel that has served us at times over the years. In WSF’s fleet, only the Klahowya and Tillikum (the current interisland ferry), are older.
Happy Retirement, Hyak, and thank you for your service.
*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets.