When the Sound Ferry System built the Quillayute in 1927 they had little idea
that a mere year later their company would be absorbed by the Puget Sound
Black Ball assigned the ferry to the Kingston-Edmonds-Port Ludlow run where
she stayed pretty much until the Bay Ferries with their larger capacity came on
line. She then moved to Point Defiance and then up into the San Juan
Islands,where she worked alongside the Vashon and on the international
route between Anacortes and Sidney, B.C.
Not part of the sale to the State of Washington in 1951, Captain Peabody had
the ferry reconditioned and sent up to Canada to be part of his new ferry
service out of Horseshoe Bay. The Quillayute entered service looking
basically like she always had, the only major change to her profile being the
closing in of her car deck windows into a line of portholes.
With the Chinook II and Kahloke added to the fleet, the larger vessel took over
Black Ball's main route between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo, freeing up the
Quillayute to work the smaller runs with less traffic. For a number of years the
ferry worked the Earl's Cove-Saltery Bay run.
B.C. Ferries picked up the Quillayute along with the other ferries of the Black
Ball Fleet when they took over operations in 1961.
As with all aging vessels, mechanical woes began to plague the ferry.
Constructed completely of wood, she became steadily more costly to keep in
good running condition. The final straw came In 1963 when the ferry struck a
dead head, punching a hole through her wooden hull planks. Her captain had
to ground her on a sand bar to keep her from sinking.
As the new ferry system built up its fleet, the Quillayute became less and less
of an asset. With her all wood construction, limited carrying capacity and
mechanical woes, B.C. Ferries wisely disposed of the little ferry.
The Quillayute was converted into a floating fish camp and renamed Samson
IV. She served in that capacity for the next 37 years.
Official Number: 193305 Built: 1927 by the Winslow Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Co. for Sound Ferry Lines
Length: 160' 9" Beam: 52' Draft: 13' 2" Gross Tons: 986 Net Tons: 670 Auto Capacity: 36 Passenger Capacity: 600
Propulsion: Washington Estep Diesel Horsepower: 750 Service Speed: 10 knots
A very rare photo shows the Quillayute working for her original owners, Sound Ferry Line, docked at Port Ludlow. Author's collection.
A number of B.C. Ferries have been made into floating fish
camps upon their retirement. The George S. Pearson and,
more recently, the Queen of the Islands were made into fish
The Quillayute might have been the most successful,
serving from her retirement until 2003.
Taken in 1974, the Quillayute is shown here as the Samson
IV. In later years she would be painted blue and white.
Photo courtesy of the City of Richmond.
On 23 June, 2003, while still in use as a fish camp moored in Naden Harbour, Graham Island, the Quillayute's neighboring fish camp the Pender Lady
(ex-Pender Queen, ex-Motor Princess) began taking on water. The Coast Guard rescued the people on board, but not before taking note of the Quillayute's
The next day, with the two vessels boomed off, the Pender Lady began to sink by the stern. Later in the afternoon, she had completely sunk in 55 feet of water.
The Pender Lady's hull had been stuffed with foam plastic in order to maintain buoyancy and help keep her afloat. An inspection on the Quillayute revealed the
old Black Ball ferry to be in a similar condition as the now sunken Pender Lady, including a hull stuffed with foam plastic to help keep the boat floating.
Fearing an even greater oil spill than the 2,000 litres that had come from the Pender Lady, it was decided that both vessels should be disposed of to prevent
further environmental damage--and that's exactly what happened. The Pender Lady was raised and broken up, the Quillayute towed to shore and broken up.
What couldn't be salvaged was burned, ending over 75 years of service.