| It is unlikely that there is a more famous Puget Sound ferry than the M/V Kalakala. For years the silver-painted art deco ferry was the most notable icon of Seattle and the Puget Sound area. It wasn’t that she was the fastest (she wasn’t) or the most luxurious (that title arguably went to the Chippewa) or did she sail the longest of any ferry on Puget Sound.
There is no denying she was certainly the most unique vessel to ever sail Puget Sound waters, from her curved art deco design to her double horseshoe lunch counter to her teeth-rattling vibration.
Constructed from the ashes of the passenger ferry Peralta, the Kalakala was seen as more than a mode of transportation—she was a symbol of progress and hope in the dark days of the great depression. During the day she the filled role of ferry transporting thousands of workers to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. By night she was an excursion boat, severing as an inexpensive distraction from the events of the day, offering live music and dancing until midnight.
For nearly thirty-five years the Kalakala made her way to and from Seattle and Bremerton, sometimes taking trips up to Victoria or other ports. Sometimes she made hard landings, sometimes not. She was both loved and hated by crews who took pride in their unique vessel but hated polishing the miles of brass. She was also the pride of her officers who knew she was something special, but also feared for her lack of visibility, poor handling and habit of clobbering docks.
She endured an exile in Alaska longer than her service on Puget Sound, and then returned to home waters to face a future even more uncertain. She remains a ship of hope, but a hope filled with ambiguity.
Love her or hate her, no one will ever be able to deny the Kalakala her place in history.
| The Peralta
Building the Kalakala
At Work for Black Ball
At Work for Washington State Ferries
At Work in Alaska
The Kalakala Today
To the Chippewa