Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 10, 2012

Kalakala Update: New Owner

I’ve followed the fate of the 1935 ferry, Kalakala, ever since Dad and I learned about it during a trip to Washington state in 2011. I’ve reported in a few blog entries what I’ve learned about the amazing ship and its checkered fate of recent years, including the initial one, HERE.

Here’s the mural on a wall in Port Angeles, Washington by Cory Ench, that was our first look at the amazing craft.

Kalakala Ferry Mural Panorama Brad Nixon (800x238)

Here’s a photo of the actual ship in its prime.

Kalakala Ferry historical photo

Kalakala in its heyday

After more than 8 years of efforts to find funding and restore the ship, the owner has relinquished possession of Kalakala through a lien foreclosure to the owner of the moorage where Kalakala resides.

According to a story on the website of the Bellingham Herald, the U.S. Coast Guard still considers Kalakala to be a navigation hazard, amid concerns that it could sink and block the adjacent waterway. The Coast Guard won’t permit restoration work to proceed while the boat is afloat in its current condition, nor, as we understand the situation, approve movement of the boat to some dry dock, which would be necessary to either repair or scrap it.

The story is worth reading, if you’re interested in this relic from another era, partly because it includes a current photo of Kalakala, showing its deteriorated condition. I cannot reproduce that photo here, since the Herald owns the photography rights. CLICK HERE. The story also gives a concise, easily readable account of further details about the obstacles facing Kalakala’s survival.

While it would be wonderful to see a restored Kalakala, one is hard-pressed to imagine that someone will find several million dollars to unravel this Gordian knot.

A website dedicated to Kalakala is It has interesting historical information and photos. There are numerous other sources online, as well.

November, 2015: Kalakala was scrapped in early 2015. We have a final word about her HERE.

The Kalakala mural is the work of artist Cory Ench, reproduced here for informational purposes, and may not be copied or reused in any commercial manner without express permission of the artist.

© Brad Nixon 2012, 2017


  1. […] Worth checking out if you are at all interested in old boats, ferries, restoration projects, etc: Under Western Skies: Kalakala Update […]


  2. Thanks for the update Brad. It is too bad.


  3. Thanks for the research! It would have been great to see it restored!


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