Puget Sound

Posted by Ellen

Kevin Horan, the goat portraitist featured in this space yesterday, lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, where he's developed this thing about ferry boats.

"Every islander knows the mind space within a ferry," he writes. "In transit, you are in neither one world nor the other." He shot a series of long-exposure ferry scenes to emphasize how the vessels "track across the water like UFOs across the sky." Ferries are "magical mystery transport pods."

This is the view from Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island of the Friday Harbor ferry at dusk.  In the distance are the city lights of Vancouver, British Columbia, reflected in the clouds behind Mount Constitution on Orcas Island.

Posted by Ellen

Water traffic is all backed up at Seattle's Ballard Locks on a sunny summer afternoon. Fortunately, there are a pair of locks straddling this dam, and even the smaller of the two–the lock shown here–can handle a couple of dozen small craft at a time.

The larger of the Ballard Locks was designed to allow passage by the largest ocean liner in existence, which at that time (1911) was the Lusitania. However, by the time the locks opened to traffic in 1917, the Lusitania had been sunk.

The boats in the photo above are all headed away from the City of Seattle and out toward saltwater; Puget Sound is just beyond the downstream end of the lock. Back upstream are numerous wharves and marinas and a couple of lakes. Although the Port of Seattle that handles today's largest tankers and container ships is accessed directly from the Sound, pleasure craft and smaller ships carrying more than a million tons of cargo still pass through these locks each year, utilizing smaller ports along the Ship Canal, including the homeport of much of the Bering Sea fishing fleet.

Depending on the tides and the water level of the lakes inland, the locks here raise or lower boats about 15 to 30 feet.

Posted by Ellen

At the feet of the fiddler in this picture is his open violin case, with a hat in it. He is riding the Washington State ferry that crosses Puget Sound between Edmonds and Kingston, just north of Seattle. I don't know if he's trying to make a living this way or just hoping to pull in a few bucks or simply earning back his ferry fare as he rides the water. It's also possible that he's doing this because he lost a bet. Whatever, this crossing had a soundtrack that I used to believe was better suited to trains than to boats: Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Orange Blossom Special.

(Reposted from a 7 November 2008 posting to an antediluvian ancestor of this blog.)

Posted by Ellen

Last night, senior midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy participated in Ship Selection to determine their first assignments after graduation in May. The names of ships in need of junior officers were posted on the wall, listed under the names of their home ports. One at a time, beginning with the midshipman at the top of the class, the students walked up to the wall of options and claimed their billets.

Allen chose the USS Ingraham, pictured here at its home port, Naval Station Everett, on Puget Sound  north of Seattle. This year there were only nine billets available in Everett, which is generally a popular home port option; it was Allen's first choice. Many of his classmates chose ships in Florida, Hawaii, or San Diego. 

The Ingraham, a frigate, is the gray ship in the middle. Mount Baker is the snow-covered volcano in the background.