M/V Hiyu in Friday Harbor

That’s the smallest Washington State Ferry you’ll ever see: the M/V Hiyu, with a maximum capacity of a miserable 34 cars. (By comparison, the ferries on the Seattle-Bainbridge run hold over 200.) It was already outdated when it was built in 1967. It’s too small to go more than a mile from shore. It had been semi-retired for almost ten years, used as a training vessel.

The Hiyu has now been pressed into service one more time. Last November the Illahee, which used to run the inter-island route in the San Juan Islands, was abruptly yanked from service (along with the Klickitat, Illahee, and Nisqually) for fear that their 80-year-old, cracked hulls might spring a leak.

The island residents aren’t thrilled. They’ve had the Hiyu on the interisland route before. It overloads frequently — meaning, people get left on the dock when the ferry leaves. Still, any inter-island ferry is better than none.

2 Comments so far

  1. litlnemo on March 26th, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

    They used to have a smaller one. Check out the Kulshan. I rode it as a kid — what a weird ferry it was. Scroll down near the bottom of that page and see the view of the open car deck with just a tiny little cabin area in the middle. I can’t imagine riding that on rough seas.

  2. litlnemo on March 26th, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

    Well, looking at the page again, I see it holds more cars than the Hiyu. But the lack of space for any passengers (except sitting in the cars) made it seem a lot smaller.

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