Homegrown Washington Ferries

It’s funny, the things they show on TV when a national broadcast comes to town. They can be things we locals don’t utilize much. Go anywhere in the country and ask people what comes to mind when they think of Seattle. I bet they say, throwing salmon, the Space Needle, and ferries.

The Washington State Ferries system really represents Seattle and the Northwest. Ferries make us unique and add an aesthetic quality to our daily lives. Watching them silently cross back and forth across Puget Sound is soothing and beautiful. But, do we take their usefulness for granted? I think we completely under-utilize ferries for recreation. Sure, ferry commuters know about the endless possibilities of the ferry system. But, non-commuters sometimes need a reminder that ferries provide easy access to amazing places.

FerrySideI live on the Olympic Peninsula half-the-time, near Port Townsend – the most wonderful town in the world, for my money! I’m here right now, as I write this. And when I get off the ferry in Kingston, on my way to Port Townsend, I instantly feel myself start to relax and unwind. The Peninsula and its surrounding islands can seem a world away to metro Seattleites. But, the fact is, the ferry system makes these great places and a simpler way of life easily accessible to us all, and for cheap!

Many ferry destinations don’t even require a car to enjoy. Just walk on and take advantage of walking beaches, forests, great restaurants, pubs, theaters, live music, etc. It’s all right there at the end of a ferry ride, a sweet experience all on it’s own. Hell, when you’ve had enough of the congested, crowded, hurried life of the city and don’t think you can take it one more day, just walk on a ferry and enjoy a beautiful cruise across the Sound. What a great break from life in the city. Oh, and did I mention you can enjoy a beer or glass of wine during the trip?

At The Boat Guy, it’s our resolution to “put the Sea back in Seattle” this year. We’re here to remind everyone that we live in a unique and beautiful place, surrounded by water. We want people to remember that our working waterfront is what makes our economy strong. Washington agricultural products leave our ports for all over the world. Do you ever think about how almost everything you use during the day probably arrived here on a ship and unloaded in Seattle or Tacoma? Cities all over the world would kill to have a ports like ours!

I’m grateful for the unique place we live and the ferry system that helps us enjoy it. I’m really proud of the job being done, right here in Seattle, on Harbor Island, where our own skilled craftspeople are building our two newest ferries. So, take a break, have a beer, and take a short cruise to some beautiful place. Washington actually provides you with yachts to do just that… they’re called ferries and there are two brand new ones on the way! When’s the last time you took a break, jumped on a ferry, and enjoyed a cruise to a laid-back, beautiful destination?

Chip Hanauer, The Boat Guy



Featured in this episode

Washington State Ferries

Vigor Industrial, Seattle


  • Michael

    Chip,nicely done! Was very interesting piece and I thought it was funny and informative. I especially liked the below deck parts showing the engine room and the wheelhouse area.

  • Ric Shrewsbury

    Hi Chip
    Your old buddy capt Ric here and as you can see moving your ferry parts around Vigor Shipyard is your buddies capt Russ & Mark from your earlier adventure on the Seattle waterfront and Duwamish river on the Westrac’s

  • Dennis Logan

    I found the video & your write up, to be quite informative. I hope to go on a ferry ride, in the near future, when “Jeannie & I” come up, next week.

  • Alan crow

    Loved it Chip! It was worth five minutes out of my life…..humor is good!
    I am beginning to believe your the next “Captain Puget”! I’m looking forward to your boating experiences this year!