Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We salute the women and men of Washington’s marine highways

By Broch Bender

As Labor Day approaches, we at Washington State Ferries tip our hats to the well over one thousand five hundred individuals who labor through all kinds of weather, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep the largest, safest ferry system in the United States moving.

Tony Boaz works through the night at the Eagle Harbor ferry maintenance yard to make sure your ferry is ship-shape for the morning commute. With 30 years of experience as a WSF machinist, he knows how to fix ‘em all. One of his top tasks is to train new staff on a variety of engines from the new Rolls Royce powered Olympic Class vessels to our three-boat-fleet of World War Two era Evergreen State ships. When Tony isn’t arm-deep inside an onboard power plant, you’ll likely find him backpacking in the Olympic Mountains with his two sons.

Tony Boaz, a machinist and member of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union.
If you’ve ever charged your phone, enjoyed a hot meal or noticed the smooth ride aboard our ferries, it’s dedicated marine electricians like David Coulter who help make it happen. David’s job is to keep the entire electrical grid buzzing, keep the lights on, the propeller spinning, and the outlets ready for plug-ins. He has worked on boats for decades; in fact he lives aboard a 1970’s era sailboat just a short bike ride from where he works at the Eagle Harbor ferry maintenance yard.

David Coulter, a marine electrician and International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union member.

It takes a talented terminal supervisor like Jennie Buswell to make the Fauntleroy (West Seattle) ferry dock hum. She assists with the budget, assigns staff and treats our customers like family. Jennie’s also responsible for making sure the vessels stay on schedule on this busy commuter and tourist route. In her spare time, she likes to train for triathlons by riding her bike up and down the hills of Tacoma.

Jennie Buswell, a terminal supervisor and member of the Ferry
Agents, Supervisors and Project Administrator’s
Association union.
Whether the ferry is tied up for the night, at the maintenance yard or underway, crews and terminal staff are constantly at work to maintain and repair the fleet. Oilers like Dan Delaney, of the Edmonds-Kingston route, monitors temperature and pressure gauges inside the boat’s engine room which prevents the huge diesel engines from overheating.

Dan Delaney, an oiler and member of the Marine Engineers’
Beneficial Association, the oldest maritime trade union
in the U.S.
We operate up to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many of those days are gray and rainy. When visibility is an issue, it takes the careful stewardship of crew like Quartermaster Cindy Amo to navigate your ferry through pea-soup fog. Cindy safely navigates the vessel between Edmonds and Kingston. She constantly checks the radar for obstacles, to plot a careful course around unseen fishing trawlers, kayaks, even large freighters that could cross the ferry’s path. Cindy began her career at WSF in 1980, working her way up from cleaning the cabin as an Ordinary Seaman to her current work, side-by-side with the captain in the pilot house.

Cindy Amo, a quartermaster and member of the
Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific.
These are just a few of the amazing professional, highly trained mariners working on our vessels and terminals system wide.  On this Labor Day, we say, “Thanks, we can’t do it without you,” and salute them all for a job well done.


Anonymous said...

This is awesome, Broch...thank you! I started my WSDOT Payroll career at Ferries 13 years ago, and still consider these folks "my people". It's great to see Ferries employees recognized for the part they play in keeping Washington moving.

Cindy Bellus, WSDOT Payroll Asst Mgr

The Geezer said...

Bender, love ya, babes, but the Evergreen State class ferries are not from WWII!

I can remember when they were new, and I am a post WWII baby. (BTW, 67th BD today, wish me well)

The Geezer

Anonymous said...

WSF employees rock!! Especially all the hard working information, reservations, and web agents that are the front line contact to the public. They deserve a standing ovation.

WSDOT said...

Happy Birthday, Geezer! Hope you’re day was great. You’re right, the Evergreen State Class was built in the early 1950’s. However, the terminal staff at our Eagle Harbor maintenance yard tell me some of the technology in the engine room dates back to WWII.

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