Kalakala about to be scrapped

UPDATE as of 7:17 a.m.: The ferry continues to sit in the graving dock. Divers are beneath the chilly waters checking out the Kalakala. Several Concrete Tech. employees are watching the process and shooting personal video.

Ben Chiefcalf: "It's incredible."

Chris Boothe: "It's bigger than I thought it would be."

Chiefcalf: "Looks like you would need a tetanus shot if you went on board."

Boothe: "It's pretty cool looking. It will be a shame to cut it up. It's like a landmark on water."

UPDATE as of 6:19 a.m.:

She nosed her way into the graving dock at 5:24 a.m. with a welcoming committee standing on a viewing dock watching the massive vessel slowly make its way into its final resting place.

The tugs were there as guides but it was mostly the tide that helped maneuver the Kalakala down the dock. The ferry stood still at 5:37 a.m. with a loud creak as it pushed against a metal anchor.

Crews used two thick turquoise ropes to tie the Kalakala in place. Then a crane reached across a span of water to grab the end of a third rope and bring it to waiting crew members, who set up a pulley system to ensure the boat couldn’t drift.

Watching the move come off without a hitch, owner Carl Anderson lit a cigar in celebration.

The next step is to pump out 13 feet of water from the graving dock and let the Kalakala settle into place.

“Things have gone perfectly,” said Brian Cunningham, owner of Cunningham Development. “Not one minute have we been off schedule. It’s gone better than we planned.”

UPDATE as of 4:58 a.m.:

The Kalakala began its longest voyage in 10 years early Thursday, sailing 2 1/2 miles to reach its watery grave.

In the glow of their red headlamps, crews began readying the rusted ferry around 3 a.m. Two tugs are set to take it from the Hylebos Waterway to a graving dock on the Blair Waterway, where it will be scrapped.

By 4 a.m., the old lady was on the move.

Tugs took her 100 yards down the Hylebos to turn her 180 degrees, aiming the bow towards the Hylebos Bridge.

"She’s starting to show forward motion here," the tug captain said.

The farewell entourage passed beneath the bridge at 4:11 a.m., moving at 2.5 knots.

Once the Kalakala entered Commencement Bay, crews let her drift for a while so a cargo ship could clear the Blair. They were underway again just before 5 a.m. and onto the Blair, the last waterway she’ll ever sail, by 5:04 a.m.


The final voyage of the ferry Kalakala — 2.5 miles to the site along Tacoma’s Blair Waterway where it will be demolished — is expected to begin before dawn Thursday.

Moored along the Hylebos Waterway for 10 years, the boat will be towed with the tide early to a graving dock where it will be scrapped.

The Kalakala first found notoriety in California as the sadly fated Peralta, which burned to the waterline and was rescued by the owner of a Washington ferry line.

It was towed to Lake Washington where it was refitted with a shiny, unique, iconic, Art Deco superstructure.

It served the waters of Puget Sound until being retired and repurposed as a seafood-processor both on sea and aground in Alaska.

Efforts to save and restore her have failed.

“This is where it’s going to die,” said Paul Zankich, principle naval architect with Columbia-Sentinel Engineers.

The move: Because of the fragile nature of the hull, officials planned to let the tide do much of the work in gently delivering the Kalakala through the Hylebos into Commencement Bay and down into the Blair.

Two tugs operated by Quigg Brothers Inc., Ironman and Fury, will escort the ferry from the Hylebos to the Blair.

The first tug tied on Wednesday. Mooring lines to the Kalakala were to be removed between 3 and 5 a.m.

Officials were to notify the bridge tender at 11th Street to raise the bridge, and the boat should pass through soon thereafter.

Generators on board the ferry will continue to power the pumps should the hull begin to take on water.

The tugs are expected to make 2.5 knots on a journey that should last just over an hour, depending on the weather.

The weather: Expected to be relatively calm, with little fog. Fog will not deter the move, although a wind-borne rough chop could.

Security: The U.S. Coast Guard will enforce a 100-yard safety perimeter around the Kalakala and the tugs.

Arrival: Should occur before 6 a.m. The gate to the graving dock (like a dry dock, but simply a water-level hole in the ground) will be opened to accommodate the Kalakala and the two tugs.

The tugs will position the Kalakala bow-first and guide it into place.

Tied up: The gate to the graving dock should be reinstalled by 6:30 a.m. after the tugs depart and following an inspection by divers.

As water is pumped from the graving dock, the Kalakala is expected to hit bottom, and begin to list, about 7:30 a.m.

Crews will remove the generators, sensors and other equipment from the Kalakala.

Next: After the water is drained, crews will “de-fish” the water remaining and return any fish to the waterway. Any rainwater that collects at the bottom of the graving dock will be collected and tested for toxins.

Deconstruction of the boat might begin as early as Friday. Material derived from the Kalakala will be taken by truck to a local scrap yard.

Viewing: Difficult. The graving dock and the original mooring site are on private property and off limits to the public. Nearby industrial properties are also private. There might be room to view the Kalakala as it passes the bridge at 11th Street.

And besides that, it will be dark.

Souvenirs: All salvage will be done by Tacoma-based Rhine Demolition. Any decisions about offering souvenirs to the public will be made after the demolition process, Rhine President Joel Simmonds said Tuesday.

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