Vessel in Distress – Kalakala Ferry

October 24, 2012 — 1 Comment
alaskan ferry

Kalakala Ferry Today
CC Image Courtesy of rbanks on Flickr

Once a majestic art deco ship shuttling passengers across Puget Sound, the Kalakala is today rusting away at her moorings in Tacoma, Washington. For nearly a decade, owner Steve Rodrigues has attempted to restore the ship to her former glory, but has faced serious funding issues and legal troubles with the US Coast Guard and the state of Washington. Unless someone with deep pockets steps up soon, the ship is most likely destined for the breakers yard.

Originally built in 1926, the Kalakala has had a colorful history and began life as the Peralta, a traditionally styled ferry operating in San Francisco, California. In 1933, a fire at Peralta’s terminal wrecked the ship’s superstructure and, instead of rebuilding the vessel in its prior form, the ship was graced with a sleek art deco superstructure to become the world’s first art deco ship.

Kalakala entered service in 1935, but a design defect obstructed the view of the bow from the bridge and the ship was plagued with poor handling in the tight confines of ferry terminals. Kalakala continued ferrying passengers around Washington and British Columbia until 1967. The vessel then sailed to Alaska where she was purposely run aground and converted into a shrimp processing plant on dry land. In 1982, the Kalakala’s owners declared bankruptcy. Thus began a 30 year dance of legal maneuvering and fundraising during which the vessel was moved back to Washington and efforts launched to restore the ship.

art deco ship

Kalakala Ferry in 1958
CC Image Courtesy of kitchener.lord on Flickr

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One response to Vessel in Distress – Kalakala Ferry

  1. 

    Kalakala was AWESOME! Her current owner is out of touch. His response to competent professionals who have volunteered thousands of hours towards his cause is harassment, COMPLETELY unrealistic goals and oh, btw, threats of lawsuits against them. The motives here are suspecious, and the result is evident.

    Kalakala served as an icon of Puget Sound maritime history. She advanced our technology substantially. And for having being conceived as a publicity stunt, she excelled at her hob! But ike my 106-year-old grandmother, there comes a time when we should let her rest peacefully as her useful life has expired.

    Kalakala needs a final “wake”.

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