Clear sailing to Keystone for Steilacoom II

PORT TOWNSEND — The second day after car ferry service to Keystone resumed business picked up, and all sailings went smoothly.

There were no cancellations or delays due to weather on Sunday, Susan Harris-Huether, customer information manager for Washington State Ferries, said.

The Steilacoom II began taking cars and passengers on Saturday, returning car ferry service to the route. Such service had been absent since Nov. 20.

“They didn’t overload, but it has certainly picked up from yesterday,” she said on Sunday.

The maximum weight allowed on the Steilacoom II is 80,000 pounds gross weight.

Larger vehicles should phone and schedule ahead of time, Harris-Huether said. The phone number is 888-808-7977.

By the 5:15 p.m. run, a total of 178 vehicles had left the Port Townsend terminal bound for Keystone on Sunday, said Hadley Greene, spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries.

Numbers from the Keystone terminal were not immediately available.

During sea trials on Tuesday, the Steilacoom II was splashed by a large wave, which washed the passenger deck with 2 feet of water.

“By all accounts the sailing has been smooth today,” she said on Sunday. “The water has been very clear up there.”

Response to the route has been positive, Harris-Huether said.

No car ferry had operated on the route since Paula Hammond, state Transportation secretary, pulled from service the four 80-year-old Steel Electric car ferries, which had served the Port Townsend-Keystone route.

Since then, only passenger ferries have operated between the two terminals.

With a capacity of 50 cars, the Steilacoom II, leased for $760,000 from Pierce County for the next 15 months, is smaller than the 64-car Steel Electrics.

The Steilacoom II will operate on the regular winter schedule.

Sailings begin at about 6:30 a.m. and will leave each terminal approximately every 90 minutes.

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