The Smokwa never actually sailed on Puget Sound, nor was she a steamer that had been converted into a ferry, but as part of the fleet that Captain
Peabody ran in Canada, she deserves to be covered here along with the rest of her running
mates.
         Built in 1946 in Pictou, Nova Scotia as the
Scotian she was used to ferry cars across Halifax Harbor.  Like so many other ferries in the past, a bridge put
her out of work and up for sale.      Black Ball ferries purchased the ferry and towed her west.  After spending some time refurbishing the ferry,  she emerged in
the now  trademark  portholes on the car
deck and in Black Ball colors.
        The addition of the double-ended steamer allowed the
Bainbridge and Quillayute to undergo needed maintenance without a distruption to service.  On 2
May, 1956, the Smokwa went into service on the Horseshoe Bay-Gibsons run.
         The ferry was sold to B.C. Ferries along with the other vessels in 1961.  It soon became apparent that  age was taking its toll on her steam engines.  In
1962 she blew a piston,  knocking her out of service.  With the
Quillayute already out, the car space could  not be lost, so the ferry was brought to and from the
dock by tug.  It was one event in many that led to B.C. ferries selling the ferry for $26,290.00 in 1966.
         The ferry had been sold for use as a fish camp, but by 1975 she was being used as a crab cannery in Port Lions, Alaska.   The
Smokwa was moved
from Port Lions to the City of  Kodiak in the early 1980's.   The vessel was moored in Kodiak just outside the small boat harbor at a dock now occupied by
Island Seafoods.
         Still at work as a cannery, the
Smokwa processes fish/ crab in Kodiak for a few years before closing down.  With the death of her owner, the  former
ferry  became a derelict.  Eventrually the
Smokwa was  towed back to Port Lions in the late 1980's or early 90's.   For several years the ferry was  moored on
the inboard side of the Port Lions ferry dock. One morning about two years after arriving back at Port Lions, it was discovered the Smokwa had sunk at her
mooring.
        A year later, Fred Devine Salvage  of Astoria, Oregon was hired to refloat the vessel and dispose of it. After refloating the
Smokwa, the vessel Salvage
Chief
towed her to deep water to scuttle her.  The Smokwa, it seems,  had other plans.   She rapidly took on water and started sinking on her own.  It seemed
that the   
Salvage Chief was about to be taken down with her when the tow line was mercifully severed, thus averting catastrophe.
        The last steam-powered ferry to sail B.C. waters is now largely forgotten by all but a few ferry enthusiasts, who remember the quirky little vessel that
caused B.C. Ferries such headaches.

                       
    (Special thanks to  Lon A. White, Duputy Harbormaster  of the City of Kodiak  for filing in the last piece of the Smokwa puzzle!!)
SMOKWA
Formerly the Scotian   Official Number: 175498 Built: Pictou Foundry and Machine Company, Ltd. Pictou, NS 1946 Retired: 1966
Length: 165   Beam:  52'  Draft: 12'5"  Gross Tons: 814  Net Tons: 481  Propulsion: Steam.  1 3-cylinder Unaflow.  Horsepower: 550  Speed: 10 knots
Passenger Capacity: 473  Auto Capacity: 35

Above, a rare and unfortunately somewhat out of focus shot of the Scotian. Author's collection.
Black Ball refined some of the lines, and the portholes certainly improved her looks, but the Smokwa was still a rather awkward looking vessel.  She is seen here sailing into Horseshoe
Bay in August, 1956.  Author's collection.
Summer on the
Smokwa...




     
  




       She wasn't particularly fast, comfortable, or, in her later years, reliable,
but in her prime with Black Ball, the
Smokwa was an vital part of the fleet.
       And it wasn't as if a crossing on the clunky steamer couldn't be
enjoyable.  The photo at left shows that on a summer day, the old steamer
could be quite a pleasant place to be.