Official Number:636551 Call Sign:WYR7641 Length: 328' Beam: 78' 8'' Draft: 16' 6'' Auto Deck Clearance: 16' Speed in Knots: 16 Max Passengers: 1200 Max Vehicles: 124 City Built: Seattle Year Built/Re-built: 1981 / 1993
Name Translation: From the Kathlamet tribe, the Chinook word calamet meaning "stone," was given to the tribe because its members lived along the rocky stretch of the Columbia River. A city also bears its name.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Swan.
| For a time, the M/V Cathlamet was likely the most notorious of the Issaquah Class--and certainly the boat that seemed to illustrate every mechanical malady to ever plague the class of ferries that soon to became known as the "Citrus Class."
The Cathlamet took an instant dislike of the ferry docks at both Mukilteo and Clinton, and in short order demolished them both within weeks of one another. The ferry earned the nickname "Can't land it" and one local radio station made up a song called "The Wreck of the Ferry Cathlamet" set to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
At WSF and in the Department of Transportation, no one was laughing. The ferry had caused millions in damages and was endangering the lives of ferry riders--something had to be done and quickly. Pulled in and out of service, the ferry became the test boat for number of different propulsion systems, providing invaluable information that allowed the state to iron out all the bugs. Rid of her twitchy computer system, the Cathlamet settled down and behaved like it should have.
Paired with her sister Kittitas on the Clinton-Mukilteo run, the two sisters have been nearly inseperable now for close to two decades. The Kit and Cat are very much considered "Mukilteo Boats" as they seldom roam from this route any longer.
In additon to shedding the troublesome propulsion put in place by MP& E, in 2003 the ferry had a complete passenger cabin refurbishment.
How anyone could have included the Cathlamet in the "rainbow" scheme put in place by MP& E is a bit of a head scratcher, as the Cathlamet's paint and floor tile stripe was brown--not what one immediately thinks of when the word "rainbow" is mentioned.
Today her passenger cabin is fitted out in blue and a very striking bright ruby red. This color had been used a bit on the Puyallup, but the entensive use on the Cathlamet sets her apart from the rest of the vessels in the fleet.
On board , you'll find an homage to her much smaller predecessor on the Mukilteo route--the Olympic of 1938. Included in a display in her passenger cabin are the Olympic's wheel and compass. The Cat is now working on the Olympic's 20 year career record on the route.
|To the left, the number 2 end of the Cathlamet's passenger cabin, showing the bright red chairs. At right, detail of the floor. Photo by the author.|
The Current Fleet
|Homage to the Olympic...|
Paying tribute to her predecessor, the Cathlamet proudly displays the wheel, compass and telegraph of the Olympic, which called the Mukilteo route home for two decades. . Photos by the author.