Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Romance of Boats

A little adventure on the internet at lunch today. Instead of looking at the news at my desk as I eat lunch most days, I looked up a famous boat from back in the 1930's. The Vessel is a Washington State Ferry called the Kalakala, Pacific Northwest Chinook for "Flying Bird". I don't remember how I came across this boat a few years ago but it has stuck in my mind. I remember calling my dad to see if he remembered it from our day living in the Seattle area. I, of course, mispronounced the name, which didn't help, but when I told him it was a ferry boat he exclaimed that he did remember it.
I know I have seen this boat in my past. I was 5 or 6 when it stopped doing runs in Washington State in 1967. This is the Kalakala (thank you for the photo)

This Art Deco style was a one of a kind boat. It has a very, riches to rags to riches and pulled from the ashes, story.
I love stories like this one. I guess I'm a romantic when it comes to silly things like this.
The hull of this boat was built in 1920's as a ferry boat in San Fransisco but the superstructure was burned in a dock fire and the hull was sold to a ferry company in Seattle. The ferry boat company's owners wife after seeing the new design to go on the hull, said "it should be more rounder". So the owner and a designer from the Boeing Boat and Aircraft company came up with this design seen above. I'll keep this short (you can read more at the link above), needless to say this boat became an icon in the Seattle area until 1967 when it was sold to an Alaskan company as a shrimp processing boat. The motor went bad somewhere along the line and it was literally pushed aground and made into a factory. It was finally abandoned. In 1984 a gentleman named Peter Bevis found the boat and saw is for what it was a piece of history. He formed a foundation to save her from the scrap heap and strip the factory from it's insides and amazingly re-floated her.
It was towed from Alaska back down to the Seattle-Tacoma area in a rather dramatic fashion.
The boat is being restored to running order according to the website. I encourage all to read the history.

On a sad note. I looked up another boat I had found on the internet. The SS Catalina. It was the white steamer that hauled people to Catalina Island here in Southern California. It unfortunately, after being sold in the 1970's, found itself in Ensenada Mexico and started taking on water there. It sat for many years partially sunk in the Ensenada harbor. A foundation was again started by someone to rescue it, but it failed. I read today that last year Mexico had to scrap the vessel to clear it's harbor and started cutting her up. I told the cute fiancee about this and she was rather saddened. She had fond memories of riding on this boat and even dancing on a dance floor on the boat. Sad Sad. Rest in Pease SS Catalina. (image from

Junkero (boat nut)

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