Submitted by Mark Schmid
Dear Washington State,
I write to you about the ferries going to the San Juan Islands.
I’m from Switzerland and have come here and grown up here in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
I want to stress and implore you, not to ever get rid of the original vintage ferries that you and Washington State are lucky enough to still have in your possession! And not just that, but still operable! How lucky you are! You don’t even realize it!
I see that with increasing population the ferries of the past can’t keep up with people’s expectations. Well, get new ones, but certainly never junk or take out of commission the original ones you have!
The original ferries that you have now are absolutely iconic and a heritage. They belong to Washington state just like the evergreen trees, the ocean and the islands! They are on every picture and symbol of Washington State. Without them, Washington state is not Washington state anymore!
In Switzerland, we also had old ferries on our lakes. Eventually they were taken out of commission, deemed too old and costly. Then some boat fans missed them and eventually formed an organization, raised money, purchased the vessel(s) —which fortunately had not be scrapped, restored them, and now are operating them again themselves! With a profit and great success! And to the great pleasure of tourists, themselves and the local population!
I am very sure, that if you junk your wonderful original Washington State ferries, you will bitterly regret that in the future. Or generations to come. Once gone, you can never get them back!
I came back to the island of my childhood after having been forced away for 25 years.
When I saw that same old ferry pull up that I was introduced to as a kid of 5 years of age, I started crying. I couldn’t hold back the tears. And I had tears in my eyes all the way from Victoria to Friday Harbor. Because it felt the same. It smelled the same, and it looked the same. Because it was the same! That is an extreme luxury in a world that is changing ever faster around us. We have made the salmon extinct and soon the orcas. The starfish are dying of wasting disease, kelp and eelgrass is receding, etc. The old original ferries of Washington stand not just for themselves, but also for what Washington was, and what it should be and continue to be.
Get new boats if the old ones can’t keep up. And by all means, replace the dirty diesel engines. But do not change the layout or their original nostalgic looks! And never ever junk them! They are worth their weight in gold! You just don’t realize it yet!