Weather delays move of ferry superstructure from Whidbey to Seattle

The new Washington State Ferry Tokitae sits at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland. The superstructure will be placed on a barge and towed to Vigor shipyard in Seattle. Windy weather delayed the move until early next week.

High winds and heavy seas do not make for good boat  launching conditions, so the new Washington State ferry partially built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders will spend a little longer in Freeland than planned.

The huge superstructure of the Olympic class Tokitae, designed to carry 144 vehicles, dominates the boatyard as workers prepare for the big move. Shoreview Drive was closed Friday in front of the boat yard.

Plans to place the superstructure on a barge Saturday were delayed. The move could be made Monday or perhaps Tuesday, said Bob French, an executive at the boat yard.

“Moving this thing is very difficult,” he said.

A few small pieces of the superstructure will be moved separately, but the bulk of the 2.5 million pound future ferry will be loaded onto a barge and guided to Seattle by two tugboats. There, it will be joined to the the hull and deck constructed at Vigor shipyard, the main contractor.

Moving the barge and tugs into the rather shallow Holmes Harbor is too risky with the windy weather, and the wind could endanger the superstructure and barge during the towing operation, French indicated.