Fast ferry testing continues

The future of a 30-minute trip between downtown Bremerton and downtown Seattle may hinge not on the vessel that’s in the water but the condition of the shore.

“First and foremost, we are working from a shoreline perspective,” said Phil Osbourne, principal coastal geomorphologist for Pacific International Engineering.

The shorelines along Rich Passage create challenges for vessels because of the impacts of the wake created by fast-moving vessels, Osbourne said.

The M/V Spirit, which is currently being used for testing along Rich Passage creates significantly less wake than the vessel used before the state terminated passenger only service between downtown Bremerton and downtown Seattle, he said.

However, the wake issue still needs to be addressed to reduce as much impact as possible along the shorelines, he said.

“The testing we’re currently conducting has shown us specific areas that need to be addressed,” Osbourne said.

The M/V Spirit is a second-generation 72-foot catamaran which will be used for whale watching expeditions this summer, returning to Bremerton in the fall for additional testing.

The warm weather has been beneficial to the study because it has given researchers a view of the vessel’s impact during normal conditions, which will allow them to more closely predict its impact during adverse weather conditions using a computer model, said Harry Hosey, a manager with Pacific International Engineering.

Researchers are studying a variety of methods to improve the shoreline along the Rich Passage. Methods include improving existing bulkheads and seawalls instead of building new structures, when improvements on existing structures could be as efficient and more affordable, he said.

“There is no one answer for shoreline improvements because the shoreline is so site-specific,” he said. “What works for one area may not work 100 yards down the shore.”

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