Ever dream of owning your very own ferry boat? The MV Evergreen State, affectionately dubbed the E-State, has been up for auction since October, and Washington State Ferries (WSF) gave Curbed Seattle a full tour.
The E-State, the first ferry built specifically for WSF, was commissioned in 1954—for context, the same year the first Dick’s Drive-In opened. Given its long service history, it’s no surprise the boat has stories, from the rescue of an overturned kayaker in 2003 to a birth in October 1979. (The ferry would show up at that now former-baby’s wedding 30 years later.)
Other ferries have been repurposed into wedding venues and scallop farms. A couple of former WSF vessels are serving passengers to Zanzibar. The MV Hiyu was recently purchased, and will eventually become a cabaret. But if the ferries don’t sell in time, they’re scrapped, as in the long, sad tale of the art deco MV Kalakala. WSF tries to avoid that whenever possible.
“We can probably get more money for it as scrap,” Broch Bender, who works in communications at WSF, told Curbed Seattle. “But if we can keep it on the water, we will.”
Passenger seating was concentrated to one floor above the car deck, including the familiar bench seats by the window and galley seating. Closer to the decks on the end, single chairs, typically bolted to the floor on other boats, move freely on the E-State—they would occasionally be cleared out for events.
What was previously the smoking section and is now more of a solarium, a partially-outdoor space still common on ferries. From here, a ladder leads up to an upper deck, formerly a crew-only area.
Above, each side of an expansive roof deck features a large cabin on each side. The gold stripes on the center stacks signal 50 years in service, which the E-State earned in 2004.
Either side has a virtually identical helm at the end of a large cabin. One side contains crew quarters, the other captain’s quarters—the latter only more glamorous from private rooms, space to work, and a small sink.
At either helm, wood details date the vessel, with a combination of vintage-looking and slightly more modern equipment.
Below the passenger room and car decks, the engine room keeps the boat chugging, thanks in part to Nadene and Rose, a pair of surplus drive motors from a WWII destroyer.
Touring an empty ferry with behind-the-scenes peeks yielded fun, period, and homey details, like the industrial vanity lights in what used to be the public restrooms, a house-like, full kitchen with bench seating in the engine break room, and an ovoid shower design in the crew quarters.
In its 60-year history with WSF, the E-State has served multiple routes: first between Seattle and Bainbridge Island, later Edmonds-Kingston, and in its golden years, the San Juan Islands. The ship was periodically called out of retirement to fill in for boats that needed maintenance after it was taken off the island route in 2014, but was officially retired to Eagle Harbor Maintenance Yard in January 2016.
The vessel was first listed on a state auction site starting at $450,000; later, it was listed on a federal auction site with a $300,000 reserve. The ferry currently sits in the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Yard in Bainbridge Island awaiting bids, and WSF tells Curbed Seattle that there’s a chance it will sell this week.