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
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 is scheduled to undergo a major upgrade, which
includes a new hybrid battery propulsion system for when
the ferry is at dock, but as yet, nothing has materialized.
The first of the Super Class will now be the last
retired--reversing the order in which they came. As it
currently stands, the Elwha, last of the Supers to arrive,
will go first, followed by the Kaleetan, Yakima and finally
the Hyak--all assuming the state can get new vessels
built to replace them.
The Hyak has been homeported in Anacortes and can
most frequently be found working either the San Juan
Islands, though she still will sit in down at her original
route--Seattle-Bremerton. It was there she started back
in 1967 when she retired the Kalakala.
When or if she will get in for her upgrades is not known.
The ferry system has absolutely no back up ferries and is
likely not to have any for several more years. It is
possible that the Hyak won't get in for her full MLU which
will drastically shorten her career. The ferry is rapidly
approaching the tipping point where it will be cheaper to
replace her rather than rebuild her. The hybrid project
that was proposed for her seems to have quietly died.
Given the stability issues the entire class has, her age,
and her thirst, it might be in the best interest of the state
to consider retiring the Hyak first rather than last.
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.