CHINOOK & SNOHOMISH
Vessel Name:  CHINOOK
VIN: 1063252  Hull Number: 32  Vessel Flag: UNITED STATES Vessel Call Sign: WDF7183 Build Year: 1998 Service: Passenger (Inspected)
Length: 127.4 ft Breadth: 37.7 ft Depth: 12.8 ft Alternate VINs: CG4705261063252, IMO Number: 9183207
Vessel Name: SNOHOMISH
VIN: 1084026 Hull Number: 36 Vessel Flag: UNITED STATES Vessel Call Sign: WDE8110 Build Year: 1999 Service: Passenger (Inspected)
Length: 123.7 ft Breadth: 37.7 ft Depth: 12.5 ft Alternate VINs: CG4990931084026,   IMO Number: 8643004
                               
Name Translation Chinook:  Breeze, wind.                                                       Meaning of Snohomish : Means "tide water people"

FINAL DISPOSITION: Sold to Golden Gate Ferries, San Francisco and renamed GOLDEN GATE (Chinook) and NAPA (Snohomish)

Seen above just before going into service, the M/V Chinook does some sea trials.  Courtesy of WSF.
  Two of the latest retirees of the Washington State Ferry fleet are not old
boats.  In fact, the
Chinook and Snohomish are two of the newest vessel in
the fleet, built at time when optimism was high for a new fleet of quick
passenger only ferry service from Vashon Island, Bremerton and Kingston.
   Built in 1998 and 1999 by Dakota Creek Shipyards of Anacortes, the
vessels were comfortable and very fast, capable of doing over 30 knots.  
The commute time to Bremerton dropped to 30 minutes, and things looked
good for an expanding fleet of similar ferries across Puget Sound.
    Trouble arose almost at once.  After a short time on the route it
transpired that at the narrowest point  of Rich Passage the wake cast from
the ferries didn't have enough time to flatten out, resulting in erosion of
the beach.  WSF tried correcting the problem,   but it didn't help.  After a
court inju
nction was issued  the ferries were slowed.  Nine months later
the  injunction was lifted,  but WSF continued to slow the ferries at the
narrowest point of the passage to prevent any further damage, and
negating the shortened commute time.  (Super Class Ferries, which,
because of their narrow hull design, cast practically no wake, can make
the run in about 45 minutes.)
     Even slowed the vessels found no lack of passengers.  However, when
I-695 passed, a significant portion of the budget for WSF was cut.  Al

hough  later thrown out as being unconstitutional, the legislature caved to
polit
ical pressure and kept the reduction in place, never bothering to
restore proper funding for the ferry system.
     Forced to make cuts to service, it was determined that the pasenger
only ferries from Seattle to Bremerton should be withdrawn as they simply
could not be run cost effectively.  Fares would have had to have been
raised so high that it was doubtful commuters would have paid for the trip
that was running only 15-20 minutes faster than the auto ferries.
   The vessels were withdrawn from service in the fall of 2003.  The
y were
then mothballed in Eagle Harbor, at the WSF repair yard.  After three
years of wrangling with what to do with the last remaining passenger-only
route from Vashon Island to down town Seattle, the legislature decided
that the vessels should be sold, the proceeds of which could be tapped for
another operator to take over the Vashon route, which WSF
was set to
discontinue operations of in 2008.
    The ferries were to be listed on Ebay in November 2007, but with the
sudden closure of the Port Townsend auto ferry run, the
Snohomish was
pressed into service between Port Townsend and Keystone.  With the
retirement of the Steel Electrics and the loss of business in Port
Townsend, the
Snohomish started a Seattle-Port Townsend run on 13
December, 2007.  She continued on the route until replaced by the car
ferry  
Steilacoom II which was borrowed for the Port Townsend-Keystone
run.
   Due to "at ready" status, the
Snohomish was being kept as a reserve
vessel.  The
Chinook, however was not considered for reserve status and
was listed twice on eBay at the price of  4.5 million.  There were no bids on
the ferry either time it was listed.
   Finally in the pair was sold for just over 2 million apiece to Golden Gate
Ferries in San Francisco.  After being readied for the trip at Dakota Creek,
the
Snohomish made an uneventful trip to the Bay area.  Rechristened
Napa, she will be joined by her sister Chinook at some point in the
summer.
   Both ferries will be going in for extensive rebuilds, which will include
adding a snack bar, more seating and more fuel efficient engines.  With
any luck Golden Gate will have far better luck with the pair than WSF did.
Top, the interior of the Chinook. Photo courtesy of Washington State Ferries. Above the interior
of the
Snohomish, which used darker colors.  Photo courtesy of Emory Lindgard. Below,
undergoing conversion for service in San Francisco.