Kingston, Seattle finally connected via fast ferry

Kitsap Transit’s new fast ferry, the M/V Finest, took center stage during a grand opening ceremony in Kingston on Nov. 19.

Gov. Jay Inslee, Congressman Derek Kilmer, Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder and Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson all took a moment to thank those who helped bring M/V Finest to Kingston.

Clauson said he was relieved that the long road to the Finest’s first day of service was nearing its end.

“There’s been a lot of work to get to this point for my staff and I,” Clauson said. “Seeing the boat sail off here today is going to be a bit of a relief.”

Fast ferry service will stand apart from the Port of Kingston’s failed SoundRunner commuter ferry service, Clauson said.

“It’s here, and it’s here to stay,” he said.

Inslee said the event was the culmination of a decades-long dream to connect Kingston to Seattle.

“When you wake up on a sunny morning and you realize something’s happened that you wanted to see happen for decades, and you realize it’s not just a dream, that’s a good morning,” Inslee said. “Today we are launching another monument to optimism, the Kingston fast ferry.”

Inslee likened the occasion to the film, “Back to the Future.”

“It’s going back to the future to the days when Chief Sealth had his canoe between the Duwamish and the Suquamish People, and helped bring peace to this region across the waters.”

In addressing the crowd during the event, Gelder regarded the new connection to Seattle as a great opportunity for economic development.

“The fast ferry service is a game changer in my opinion,” Gelder said. “When you look at the economic advantage Bainbridge Island has had because of its short connection to Seattle, we will be experiencing a leveling of that playing field.”

Following the speaking portion of the event, dignitaries were invited aboard the Finest for an inaugural sailing. On the bridge, captains Tom Healy and Becca Johnston piloted the vessel away from its moorings. Jen Cook, served as project manager for the Finest’s refurbishment. From the bridge, she sounded the horn announcing M/V Finest’s entrance into service. Cook said it was an emotional day to see the fruition of her hard work, likening the event to seeing a child off to college.

“The Kingston fast ferry service service and the Finest will usher in new changes as its bow crosses and cuts through the waters of Puget Sound,” Gelder said. “May it always experience fair winds and following seas.”

By:  Nick Twietmeyer
Source: Kitsap Daily News