Monday, December 28, 2009

Black Ball's M/V Coho turns 50 years old on Dec. 29, 2009

The M/V Coho arrives in Victoria's Inner Harbour
Photo by Sue Frause
Passengers traveling aboard Black Ball Ferry Line’s M.V. Coho on Dec. 29, 2009 will be a part of history. Exactly 50 years ago to the day, the ferry made its first commercial sailing between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia.

For half a century, the M/V Coho has transported people and cargo across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the years, captains have performed wedding ceremonies; American high school marching bands have traveled to Vancouver Island to perform in parades; and Vancouver Island sports teams journeyed south to take on their American neighbors.

Daily service
links Vancouver Island-Olympic Peninsula


The launch of the M.V. Coho re-established daily, year-round ferry service across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which was being serviced by other companies on strictly a seasonal basis.

Built in Seattle at a cost of $3 million, the M.V. Coho was at the time the most expensive and largest privately funded passenger and vehicle ferry ever built in North America. The ship was designed by naval architect Philip F. Spaulding & Associates and built at Seattle's Puget Sound Bridge & Dry dock (now Todd Pacific Shipyard).

On its first day of service, the M.V. Coho was reported to have carried some 225 passengers and 60 vehicles, and patronage was noted to be “better than expected.”

Five decades later, more than 400,000 passengers and 120,000 vehicles make the trip annually, accounting for more than 60 per cent of total visitor entries to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Since operations began, the ferry has transported more than 21 million passengers and five million vehicles.

Festivities on Dec. 29 will include a celebratory birthday cake for passengers and crew aboard the M/V Coho.