Official Number: 643291 Call Sign: WRA9001 Length: 328' Beam: 78' 8'' Draft: 15' 6'' Horsepower: 5,000 Speed in Knots: 16
Max Passengers: 1076 (SOLAS) Vehicles: 124 City Built: Seattle ear Built/Re-built: 1981/2004
Name Translation: From the Chelan language: Tsill-ane, meaning
"deep water." The tribe lived along Lake Chelan, which is very deep. A city, county and river also bear the name.
The Chelan aglow at twilight at the Ship Harbor dock in Anacortes in the summer of 2012. Photo courtesy of Mike Bonkowski.
| The Chelan’s early career was spent on the Kingston-Edmonds run, where she worked alongside the Yakima. For many years the pairing worked well, but traffic on the route steadily built up and finally the Chelan could no longer handle the traffic and a second Super Class was added.
Cut free from Kingston, the Chelan was often used as the “spare” Issaquah while the others in the class went into the yard for being overhauled and having the upper car deck added to increase capacity. Summers would most often find her working in the San Juan Islands.
It became apparent that the Evergreen State was nearing retirement, and as such a replacement ferry would need to be upgraded to SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) standards to work the international route between Anacortes and Sidney, British Columbia. The popular tourist route has been operating since 1922, and was generally handled by the Elwha, but the larger Super Class is very uneconomical to run. A downward turn in the number of passengers also suggested that upgrading a smaller vessel (as the Kaleetan had originally been considered for the SOLAS upgrades) seemed to be the wisest move.
The Chelan was chosen to fill the role. The first step in the SOLAS upgrade was to expand her to carry 130 cars (with the addition of more safety equipment, revised to 124.) She emerged from the yard in 2001 with gleaming white paint and the expanded car deck.
Four years later, after the Sidney run was discontinued, then restored to 9 month service, the Chelan went in for the conversion work. At the same time as the additional safety equipment was added, the passenger cabin was totally refurbished.
Unlike the other Issaquahs, the Chelan does retain some of her original “rainbow” color which had been orange. Added to the palette were teal, black and a powder blue. Historic copies of “Lake Chelan” brand apples adorn the walls, along with historic and contemporary photos of the Lake Chelan area, and quilt artwork by Erika Carter.
After the conversions were done, the Chelan was scheduled to take over the International run in the fall of 2006. However, on April 7th, 2006 the Elwha suffered at catastrophic failure of a drive motor and would spend the next 15 months out of service. The next day the Chelan was hurriedly moved up to Anacortes to take over the route.
The Chelan spent the winter schedule of 09/10 at Todd Shipyard. Part of her annual maintence included her first paint job since 2001. The rust that had become an embarrassment has been erased and the ferry looks sparkly new and ready to serve the Anacortes-Sidney run for the spring and summer months.
|The Chelan as she looks today. Mouse over for the "before" shots, taken in roughly the same area. In photo 1, the brochure rack is where the Duty Free ship now resides. Before photos courtesy of Brandon Moser. The after shots were taken by the author.|
The Current Fleet