‘Nap Tyme,’ the driverless boat | FerryFare

“Nap Tyme” was aptly named as she cruised through Dalco Passage (Tacoma Narrows) on auto pilot with her skipper down below.

Like the “Little Engine That Could,” Nappy soldiered on even after the Chetzamoka honked five warning blasts. Twenty seconds later, Nappy bounced off of Chetzy’s side and the video went viral.

Who was at fault?

Either boat could have avoided the collision but neither did … so both were at fault. Rules for boats are the same as for cars at intersections. The one on the right has the right of way.

Boat rules take this one step further. The boat on the right, Nappy, has to hold its course and speed while the one on the left, Chetzy, maneuvers to go around behind Nappy.

Boats are also required to keep a lookout that appraises situations and avoids collisions. Even after Chetzy’s whistle blasts, Nappy’s skipper didn’t show up … 20 seconds is plenty of time to zip up to the bridge

Here at Kingston, we hear ferry blasts during the summer and fishing seasons. Often there are a lot of small boats milling around and if the ferry tried to change course for each one there’d be aquatic anarchy. Instead, the ferry slows or stops while things sort out. Hint: talking to the ferry on channel 16 is a big help.

Keeping a lookout is not limited to boats. Motorists are expected to do more than just watch the road. They’re supposed to be aware of what’s going on around them (e.g. at cross walks, intersections etc.).

Nappy, the driverless boat, gives me cause to wonder about driverless cars.

The happiest days in a boat owner’s life …

In February, WSF happily sold the Hiyu and Evergreen State. One was WSF’s smallest boat, and the other was WSF’s first.

Hiyu was built in 1967 as an inexpensive boat with a small crew (four) for the 1.7-mile Vashon-Point Defiance run. When Vashon outgrew Hiyu, she became the San Juan’s interisland boat. When the islands outgrew her in the late 1990s, Hiyu was tied up with duties that included some commercials and forgettable movies.

When the steel electric ferries were abruptly pulled from service in 2007, Hiyu returned as the fleet’s backup boat. Even then, because she was small and slow, she was seldom used and, when new boats came on line, she was sold. HIYU’s been moved to Lake Union. The happy new owners are thinking of “a circus and cabaret on the high seas” with “cutting-edge performance and live music” as well as weddings, and corporate get-togethers.

EVERGREEN STATE, built here in 1954, was the state’s first new boat after taking over Capt. Peabody’s Puget Sound Navigation Company in 1951. Though the hull was new she used surplus diesel electric engines from a WW II destroyer escort. EVERGREEN STATE was posted to the Bainbridge Island run to meet the traffic surge from the (then) new Agate Pass Bridge. When truck trailers outgrew EVERGREEN STATE’s clearance she went to the San Juans, where she spent most of her career. Later her clearance was raised. When that made her tippy, removing topside weight included ceiling panels in the passenger salon. This left exposed an interesting collection of wires and pipes. Unlike HIYU the EVERGREEN STATE’s future is harder to discern. Jones Broadcasting, the buyer, is towing her to Grenada, but is mum on what happens after that. This conjures up the image of the 1960’s “pirate radio” ships that became the nemesis of the BBC by broadcasting the pop music that BBC had spurned. BBC radio was restructured in 1967.