Official Number:662478 Call Sign: WAK7089 Length: 328' Beam: 78' 8'' Draft: 15' 6'' Auto Deck Clearance: 16' Horsepower: 5,000
Speed in Knots: 16 Max Passengers: 1200 Max Vehicles: 90 City Built: Seattle Year Built/Re-built: 1982/2006
Name Translation: The Native American/Chinook two syllable pronounciation (See-alth) of Seattle, the chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who befriended early settlers in the1850-60's.
The Sealth sailing from Vashon Island on fill-in duty for the Klahowya. Courtesy of Matt Masuoka.
| The Sealth is the last of the Issaquah Class in more ways the one. She was the last of the sextet built, the last remaining in the 100 (now 90) car configuration and the last to receive an interior makeover.
Completed in 1982, it would be three years before the ferry would officially join the Washington State Ferries fleet, wrapped up in continuing disputes with her builders, the now long defunct Marine Power and Equipment. Finally accepted, the ferry worked mainly at Bremerton, but would also fill in for other Issaquahs as needed.
By the 1990’s she could most often be found on the Bremerton run working with her sister Kitsap. As the 1990’s progressed, only the Sealth and the Chelan hadn’t been expanded to carry more cars.
At the turn of the century the Sealth was working more and more in the San Juan Islands. Plans had originally called for her to get the second car deck added, however it was discovered that her high deck clearance in all the tunnels of her car deck proved to be very useful in the Islands. She settled into a routine of working the off season in the islands and summers filling in on the south sound, usually at Vashon Island.
As the years progressed, her interior became an increasing embarrassment. No amount of cleaning could help it. Her “rainbow” color had been green. The tiles, once a vibrant shade of green had faded to a rather unappetizing seasick shade. The ceiling tiles were still stained with years of cigarette smoke from the days when that habit was still allowed inside the ferries, and the benches and upholstery was wearing out.
In the summer of 2006 the ferry went into the yard for a well earned face lift. The new interior of the Sealth is perhaps the most distinctive of the six sisters. Using some of her original “rainbow” color, the Sealth has been fitted out with shades of green in the tile and upholstery. Complimenting the green is an appealing dark blue. The floor tile received a pattern unlike anything else in fleet, and it is one of those types of things that you either love or hate. It is certainly distinctive, and sets the Sealth apart from the other Issaquahs.
At the same time as her interior renovation the ferry received a fresh coat of paint. WSF had apparently had some issues with paint in the past (as evident on the Yakima and Chelan) and went with a new brand. The result was a slightly more vivid green on the Sealth, but more importantly it seems to be more durable. The Sealth still looks freshly painted three years later.
Today the Sealth works mainly as a relief boat for the Evergreens or, in a pinch, an Issaquah Class. Fall and winter will generally find her working as boat # 3 in the San Juan Islands.
|The Sealth's refurbished interior, with the unique tile pattern. At right, the galley. All photos courtesy of Brandon Moser. Mouse over for the before photos.|
The Current Fleet