OLYMPIC
Built: 1938, Baltimore, MD as Governor Harry W. Nice Length: 207' 6" Beam: 62'  Draft: 8' 6"  Auto Deck Clearance: 12'  
Speed: 11 knots  Propulsion: 1 diesel engine.  Autos: 55  Passengers: 605
Name Translation: named after the Olympic Mountain Range in Western Washington.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Moored at Anderson Island, WA.  Status beyond that unknown.
The Olympic as seen in a 1950's postcard.
In 1974 the WSF was ordered to take over  operations of the Port
Townsend-Keystone  from Olympic Ferries Inc., which had recently gone out of
business.  WSF moved the
Oly over to the route, making the first run for the
state on the Port Townsend-Keystone run in June, 1974.

In February 1979 the Hood Canal Bridge sank in a violent storm. With it, the
quick link to the Olympic Peninsula was cut off.   Traffic tripled on the Keystone
run. The
Olympic couldn't keep up, so she was moved back to Clinton. By the
time the bridge was rebuilt, and with the new Issaquah class ferries taking their
place on the Sound, the
Olympic was scheduled to be retired in 1983.

The retirement never happened.  While the
Rhododendron was mothballed, the
Olympic continued on at Keystone until ordered off the run by the Coast
Guard.  Her single engine shut down one day leaving her adrift for over an
hour before the engine could be restarted.  The Coast Guard did not want a
vessel with a single engine on the route, and the
Klickitat, recently out of being
completely refurbished, was moved to the  route.

For the next ten years the  
Olympic continued on in service on various routes in
the system, mainly at Point Defiance and even subbing as the inter-Island ferry
for a few summers in the San Juan Islands.

After the successful updating of the Steel Electrics, WSF decided to upgrade
the
Olympic and Rhody. The Rhody, already out of service, was sent in for
overhaul first.

Much to the chagrin of WSF and the DOT, the
Rhody was far more
deteriorated than first thought.  Much of her steel was completely wasted and
the entire passenger cabin had to be rebuilt from the ground up using entirely
new steel.  The cost overruns were in the millions.

This spelled the end of any thought of refurbishing the
Olympic, which with her
single engine limited her to where she could work.    Her carrying capacity and
limited over-height clearance made her of little use to the system,  so plans for
her overhaul were shelved.

After the
Rhody returned to service in 1993, the Olympic was mothballed the
WSF repair facility. The years ticked by until the state decided to surplus the
vessel in 1997. She was put up for auction, and sold to Darrell McNabb of
Bainbridge Island for $71,000.00. McNabb hoped to turn the
Olympic into a
sightseeing vessel and museum. He towed her across the harbor to begin her
new life.

Sadly, nothing was done  with the  ferry. She remained moored where McNabb
towed her after the 1997 sale. Broken glass littered  her car deck, rust
streaking  her sides. Nesting crows looked out from the wheelhouse.

In 2006 the vessel was cleaned up inside, with some new paint being added to
the passenger cabin.   There has been some interest in returning her to her
home waters, but aside from the purchase price there would be expense of
towing her back to Chesapeake Bay. In July 2009 the ferry went up for  bid on
eBay.  The  
Olympic was facing eviction from her  moorage at Eagle Harbor
and had to move.

Shortly after, the
Olympic changed hands and was moved to Ketron Island.  
She is currently moored at Ketron Island, not far from the ferry dock, where she
routinely is aground with the low tide.
At top, after years of working at Clinton-Mukilteo, the Olympic was reassigned to the Port
Townsend-Keystone run in June 1974 on the other side of Whidbey Island after Olympic Ferries
Inc. shut down after the summer 1973 season.   Author's collection.  Middle, Douglas Walker
captures the
Olympic at her new mooring at Ketron Island.  Above,in an odd coincidence, the
Rhododendron had been filling in for the Christine Anderson, when the Oly arrived at Ketron Island.  
For the first time in decades, the two ferries were briefly reunited.  Photo courtesy of  Carol Just.
Put out of work when a bridge was built across Chesapeake Bay, the Gov. Harry W. Nice and Gov. Herbert R. O'Conor were snapped up by Washington State
Ferries.   At the time, building a new ferry was a few years away at the earliest and the system needed more carrying capacity and quickly.

Painted in green and white, the two ferries were renamed
Olympic and Rhododendron.   In 1954, the Olympic started on the Southpoint-Lofall run, but a month
later she was displaced on the run by her sister,
Rhododendron. The Olympic was moved up to the Clinton, Whidbey Island - Mukilteo run, taking over the
number one ferry spot from the  
Chetzemoka.

The Olympic worked side-by-side with the Rhododendron on the Clinton run full time until 1969 when the Kulshan joined the Rhododendron. The Olympic was
then used as a third/summer overflow boat.
One of the reasons why the Port Townsend
run is one of the toughest in the system...

The  Olympic fights heavy seas on the Port
Townsend-Keystone run.  A few years later the ferry would be
ordered off the route permanently after her engine broke
down and left her adrift. Given the
Oly only had one engine,
it's surprising she was allowed to work the route at all.  
Author's collection.