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64-Car Ferries - Frequently Asked Questions

How many cancellations have there been historically on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route? How does it compare with the rest of the system?

WSF System-wide Trip Cancellations by Route and Reason

2006 (pdf 20 kb)
This was the last full year that the 59-car Steel Electric Class ferries were in service.

2007 (pdf 60 kb)
The Steel Electric Class ferries were removed from service Nov. 21, 2007.

2008 (pdf 208 kb)
The Port Townsend/Coupeville route was served by a passenger-only ferry through January and the first week of February. The 50-car Steilacoom II, which WSF leased from Pierce County, began service on Feb. 9.

2009 (pdf 20 kb)
The 50-car Steilacoom II was serving the Port Townsend/Coupeville route throughout 2009, with the exception of 5.5 weeks of passenger-only service in January and February during the Steilacoom II's required drydocking for maintenance and repairs.

2010 (pdf 16 kb)
The 50-car Steilacoom II served the Port Townsend/Coupeville route until Nov. 15, when the 64-car Chetzemoka entered service.

2011 (pdf 196 kb)
The 64-car Chetzemoka provided one-boat service on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route until the 64-car Salish joined the Chetzemoka on July 1. Two-boat service was provided on the route for the first time since 2007, from July 1-Oct. 10. The route then underwent its typical seasonal reduction to one-boat service until peak season 2012.

2012 (pdf 8 kb)
The 64-car Salish provided one-boat service on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route until February. The 64-car Kennewick provided one-boat service from February to mid-May. From mid-May to mid-October, both the Salish and Kennewick served the route. The Kennewick provided one-boat service for the rest of the year.

Why is Keystone Harbor the most challenging location in the ferry system?

Excerpt from 2005 Keystone Harbor Study:
Keystone Harbor has several features that make it difficult to navigate a ferry into the existing terminal. Strong cross currents frequently make it hard or impossible to enter the harbor's narrow entrance, especially during higher velocity currents at ebb tide.

A recreational boat launch is also located within the small harbor, and a public dive park is near the mouth of the harbor, adding to safety concerns for WSF vessel captains. When operating in high southeast winds, WSF masters have a difficult time staying within the very narrow entrance channel and risk grounding on the western shore of the harbor.

Keystone Harbor diagram

Excerpts from 2007 Port Townsend/Keystone Vessel Planning Study (pdf 1 MB):
Due to tidal and weather conditions that severely affect entrance to the Keystone Harbor, the Port Townsend-Keystone Route has the most trip cancellations in the entire ferry system. Getting into and out of Keystone Harbor can be very challenging with the existing vessels, hence the need to schedule cancellations to avoid peak cross-currents at the harbor entrance.

The entrance to Keystone Harbor is very narrow, requiring a straight approach both entering and exiting. To achieve this, a single-ended vessel would have to turn around within the harbor prior to departing. The width of the navigation channel makes this a very difficult maneuver at most tides and it is impossible at low tides, when the width of the channel is only a few feet greater than the length of the ferry. See Figure 6-1 for an illustration showing the relative size of the navigation channel at low tide and the existing Steel Electric class ferries serving the route. The aerial photo below illustrates the challenges associated with trying to maneuver within Keystone Harbor.

Keystone Harbor aerial with Steel Electric ferry

Figure 6-1: Keystone Harbor Aerial Photo