The New Giants:   The Jumbo Mark II Class
Amazingly, the "new"  Mark II's will be celebrating their 10th
birthdays over the next  three years, starting with the Tacoma in
2007.  They were  first new auto    ferries built for WSF in 20
years and have proven to be a highly reliable class of ferries,
every bit as the Jumbos before them.
There were some  initial teething problems when first coming into
service--mainly  vibration, particularly around corners, which
caused the first two ferries to be retrofitted.  The
however, still under construction at the time,  had the problem
corrected before she went into service, making her the smoothest
and quietest of the trio.
The Mark II's hold 2,500 passengers, 500 more passengers than
the Jumbos. The increase bumped their size up 20 feet.  At 460
feet, they are the largest double-ended auto ferries in the world,
just slightly edging out their Canadian Cousins, the C Class
vessels.   While carring 500 more passengers, the auto capacity
only went up by 202. Passeger capacity was more important on
the Bainbridge run, where the 2,000 passenger Jumbos were
filling to capacity on the morning and evening commuter runs.  In
the years since they've gone into service, the ferries have filled to
capacity.  There is even talk of retro-fitting the solariums  to be
an enclosed passenger cabin, much like the "library" areas
already on the upper deck
 Since going into service, the
Tacoma has called Bainbridge
Island home.  With few exceptions she has been there since that
first day of service in 1997.
 In November of 2007 the Tacoma returned to service after an
absence of some three months for her ten year overhaul.  She
returned to service polished, cleaned and freshly painted, and
ready for another ten years of sterling service.


Official Number:D1052576     Call Sign: WCX9244   
Length: 460' 2''   Beam: 90'   Draft: 17' 3'' Horsepower: 13,200 Draft:  Speed in Knots: 18
Max Passengers:  2500  Max Vehicles: 202   City Built: Seattle ï¿¿   Year Built/Re-built:
Name Trandlation: Derived from the native word Tah-ho-mah for Mt. Rainier, or "snowy
mountain." Tacoma was first attributed to the mountain in an 1860s book, "The Canoe
and the Saddle" by Theodore Winthrop, a popular volume on the early Pacific Northwest.
The city picked the name over Commencement City when the railroad made its terminius
there in the 1870s.
In every sense of the the word the Wenatchee is a sister ship to
the Tacoma.  There are only slight variations in patters to the
floor tile and the colors in upholstry.  The largest difference
would be in the Native American artwork on display on the ferry.  
Reflecting the artistry of the tribes in the Wenatchee area which
lies east of the Cascades, you'll find many  fine examples of
basketry, differing from the coastal tribes stylized woodworking
and painting.  In addition, you will also fine historic photos of the
Wenatachee area and examples of artwork from labels and
other items advertising Eastern Washington's biggest crop: the
famous Washington apples.
 As with the
Tacoma, the Wenatchee has been a steady,
dependable running  vessel, infrequently breaking down.  Her
service has been marred with only one serious mechanical
failure--brought on by an uncharted rock.
 During a particularly low tide, coupled with the phenomenon of
"squatting" which is when the ferry rides lower  down in the
water  at full speed, the
Wenatchee clanged a rock in Eagle
Harbor that hadn't been a problem ever before.
 The resultant damage consisted of a crack in the hull and a
banged up propeller blade and necessitated drydock and
repairs that kept the
Wenatchee out for many weeks.
 It was about this time as well that it was discovered that
subbing a Jumbo ferry with a capacity of 2000 as opposed to
2500 was really no longer an option for the Seattle-Winslow
run.  Unable to keep pace with the amount of travelers during
peak commute times, WSF has since taken to moving the
Puyallup off the Kingston-Edmonds run instead of bumping
either the
Walla Walla or Spokane into the empty slot.  This is
why when the
Tacoma was out unexpectedly, the Hyak, which
with its split decks can carry 2500 people, was moved from
Bremerton over to Bainbridge--the
Walla Walla simply wouldn't
be able to handle the traffic.
 Luckily, breakdowns have been very uncommon over the last
ten years of service.  The
Wenatchee has been living up to the
reputation of her predecessors, the Jumbos,  in proving to be a
remarkably trouble free  runner.

Official Number:D1061309  Call Sign: WCY3378
Length: 460' 2''  Beam: 90'   Draft: 17' 3''  
Auto Deck Clearance: 16'
Horsepower: 13,200     Speed in Knots: 18
Max Passengers: 2500   Max Vehicles: 202
City Built: Seattle, WA   Year Built/Re-built: 1998
Name Translation: From the Yakima word wenatchi for "river
flowing from canyon." When Lewis and Clark traveled through the
Columbia River valley in 1803-1805, they mentioned the word
Wenatchee in their journal, hearing of the river and the tribe
living along its banks. A city, lake, river, and national forest are
also named after the tribe.
While the largest double ended ferry in the world, the  Puyallup can't quite measure up to the size of a cruise ship.  Still, the ferry is impressive in its size compared to
many of the other vessels in the fleet.  Photo  courtsey of Khristopher LaPlante.
It is not a name that readily slips off the tongue.  Pronounced   PEW-AL-UP, and while certainly of noble meaning and a accurate reflection of the tribe, it
does manage to cross-up tourists who do not routinely speak the numerous Native American names in Washington State.  Still, it could certainly have
been worse--reportedly, there were plans for a fourth Mark II that was allegedly going to be named
Sequim-- a name that still sparks arguements by its
own residents on how to pronounce correctly.
Puyallup has been on the Kingston-Edmonds run for most of her career, though as noted she will move south when one of her sisters is "in the
shop" for repairs.  The vessel, huge in comparison to many of the ferries that have called the Kingston-Edmonds route home, quickly made short work of
full parking lots and back ups on either side of the run.  However it was short-lived, as now the traffic has even out-paced the
Puyallup and the Spokane
in summer months, particularly if any event is taking place on the Kitsap or Olympic Peninsulas.

Current Fleet


Official Number: D1061310  Call Sign: WCY7938
Length: 460' 2''   Beam: 90'
Draft: 17' 3''   Auto Deck Clearance: 16'
Horsepower: 13,200  Speed in Knots: 18
Max Passengers: 2500   Max Vehicles: 202
City Built: Seattle  Year Built/Re-built: 1999
Name Translation: From the Puyallup language: "generous
people." The Puyallup tribe had a reputation for generosity in
dealing with traders and travelers. Early settler Ezra Meeker
renamed his town from Franklin in 1877 looking for something
unique. Besides the tribe and town, the name "Puyallup" is also
used for a river and a  glacier on Mount Rainier.
Completing another succesful run, the Tacoma docks in Seattle in the spring of 2002.  Note the Space Needle, celebrating its 40th year, is painted in the original
"galaxy gold."  Photo by the author.
Summer sun streams through the windows of the Tacoma's passenger cabin, while above,
the ferry's name is proudly on display.  Photos by the author.
The crack steamer S.S. Tacoma of 1913 was the fastest single propeller
vessel in the world.  Even today the steamer would give her namesake ferry
a run for her money.  Author's collection.
uld give her cur
Against a backdrop of blue skies and calm waters it is no wonder the ferries are the state's number one tourist attraction.  Here the Wenatachee
presents a wonderful photo op, one taken advantage of by photographer Matt Masuoka, who snapped this picture.
The uppermost deck of the Mark II's has a small room for additional passenger capacity.  Often
referred to by commuters as the "reading room" or "library" you'll often find the room filled with
people, but very quiet as they are either reading, writing, or napping.  Photo by the author.
Ever the optomists, WSF calls the uppder deck on the Mark II's, like on the Mark I's, the
"Sun Deck."  Photo by the author.
he ferries
Perhaps the best of the trio, the Puyallup's passenger cabin is
slighltly set apart by the use of red in the floor tile.  Photo courtesy
of I. S. Black.