Official Number: 508160 Call Sign: WX9439 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
Name Translation: Chinook jargon: "fast" or "speedy."
The Hyak sailing through Wasp Pass in the San Juan Islands in 2015. Photo courtesy of Brandon Swan.
Here's an interesting picture of when the Hyak ran around in Anacortes on April
14th, 1986. All 250 people on board were safely evacuated. The Coast Guard
determined that a navigational error caused the accident. About $200,000.00
damage was done to the ferry.
Ever the workhorse, the Hyak, despite having a lot of
work done on it in recent years, still suffers from being the
least attractive ferry in the fleet--as least as far as her
interior goes. The recent work done on the boat,
including getting the refurbished engines from the Jumbo
Class and an elevator being installed, have extended the
first Super Class ferry's life, which was originally
scheduled to be cut short in 2008. After the car tab tax
was cut in 1999, the money to do a true mid-life upgrade
on the Hyak vanished. Over the next ten years the ferry
was patched up, cleaned and kept in service, with still the
eye toward retirement.
Several things happened in the fleet, including the
sudden withdrawal of the Steel Electrics in 2007. Plans to
retire the Hyak quietly vanished.
Realizing that the Hyak could be fully refurbished for an
additional twenty years of service, the legislature has
acted and has budgeted in $20 million to finish the work
on the ferry that has been coming in fits and starts over
the years--including a much needed interior updating.
Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen. The
ferry was scheduled to undergo a major upgrade, which
included a new hybrid battery propulsion system for when
the ferry is at dock, but nothing has materialized and the
project was quietly canceled.
The Hyak s rapidly approaching the tipping point where it
will be cheaper to replace her rather than rebuild her--if it
hasn't already reached that point. With the approval of
the fourth Olympic Class boat, it is likely that the Hyak or
one of the other Super Class ferries is going to be put
into "relief" status and not see steady work. Given the
precarious state of the drive motors of the entire class,
this is probably the best thing that can be done to extend
their life--though it is increasingly likely that the Hyak is
going to be retired first.
The Hyak had been homeported in Anacortes, but as of
this summer its normal spot has been taken by the
Samish. For most of 2015 it can be found working her
original route--Seattle-Bremerton. It was there she
started back in 1967 when she retired the Kalakala, and it
just might be the route she is working on when the mighty
Hyak is retired herself.
Some new tile, some new upholstry, but all in the original color scheme. The Hyak looks almost the same today
as she did in 1967. One notable change--the lighting. The old "egg crate" style fixtures were all replaced, as they
rattled horribly. Photo courtesy of Matt Masuoka.