It was an overcast day as I boarded the ferry to head down the coast. As I went through US Immigration on the Victoria side, the INS agent who up came to the car was a cyclist. When he asked me the "Purpose of the trip", I told him that it was to complete the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. As he looked into the vehicle (which looked like a sports locker on wheels), he saw the S-Works Specialized time trial bike, and said "well at least you've got a bike that will do the job"!
After a few minutes in the immigration compound, the MV Coho came alongside and disembarked a load of cars and trucks. It is an interesting ferry, because it has had its bow changed so that it is pointed and is more seaworthy than the normal ferry with blunt ends. Because of that, it takes on cars through the side in Victoria, and the vehicles go off via the stern in Port Angeles. This information describes the MV Coho:
The MV Coho is 341
feet/104 m long and runs across the Strait of Juan de Fuca
at 15 knots/28 km/h. The MV Coho was designed by Spaulding & Associates
of Seattle and is named after the coho salmon commonly found in the Puget
Sound. The MV Coho was the first large vessel built on the West Coast
in 20 years solely with private financing. The vessel was built by Puget Sound
Bridge & Dry Dock in Seattle, Washington and made her first sailing to
Victoria B.C. on December 29, 1959.The ferry has
been a true workhorse making four runs a day. It also used to be used
for night freight runs and carries up to 1,000 passengers and 100 vehicles.
She was built in Seattle in 1959. The waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca can
be a bit rough but the ship won’t have any problems, though you might.
On the right side, you can see two of the healthiest looking sea gulls in the Victoria area. They know that breakfast is served everyday at 10:30 onboard MV Coho, and they are parked right outside the cafeteria door. I think that several tourists have showed them kindness over the years!
When I went inside the office to get my passport stamped, the INS Agent saw my NAVY SWIMMING shirt and asked me what I did on the Navy. I told him that I spent my career flying H-3 Sea King helicopters. He told me that used to be an SH-60 Sea Hawk technician on HSL-41 in San Diego, and remembered the Canadian Exchange Pilots who taught the US Navy aviators how to do hauldown landings in the 80s. He was curious about when our new SH-92s would be operational and wondered if they would be more capable than the USN Sea Hawks.
When you look at the display on the GPS over to the left, you can see that I am directed to continue to the ferry, but "Bitchin Betty" inside the GPS assumes that I am going to drive at highway speed across the Strait.
On the right side, you can see the pillars of the Royal London Wax Museum over the bow of the MV Coho. You can tell just from walking around on the ship - both outside and inside - that it is very well maintained, and all the crew members, ships officers and loading staff have a great attitude towards the customers and their jobs. I don't normally see that on the government run ferry systems.