Ferry to be christened next week


The Sanpoil undergoes “sea trials” on Lake Roosevelt Tuesday, as Foss Maritime crews test and document its capabilities before handing it over to the state Dept. of Transporation. — Scott Hunter photo

The Sanpoil, the new Keller Ferry, will be christened in special ceremonies Aug. 14, at the south shore terminal, officials reported.

Ceremonies will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., after which the Sanpoil will go into service, replacing the Martha S.

The $12 million 20-car ferry was built in pieces by Foss Maritime at its Rainier, Ore., plant and trucked to Grand Coulee for assembly at a special location at Crescent Bay.

Monday the Sanpoil was out on Lake Roosevelt going through tests conducted for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The public is invited to the special ceremonies where a traditional bottle breaking will highlight the christening.

The Colville Confederated Tribes, which contributed $2 million to the cost of the ferry, will offer a special blessing for the new boat.

Shortly after christening, the Sanpoil will begin moving vehicles across Lake Roosevelt and connect the south and north sides of SR 21, running from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

Officials stated that the Sanpoil meets all the latest US Coast Guard requirements and is expected to provide decades of reliable service. The new vessel is more fuel-efficient, and can carry eight more passenger vehicles per trip than the Martha S.

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The Martha S has served the route since 1948. The history of a ferry crossing at that location goes back to the 1890s, and the Sanpoil will be the fifth vessel to serve the route, officials stated.

The Martha S has been out of service for over five weeks, and travelers will welcome the new vessel because they won’t have to find an alternate route to get from Lincoln County to Ferry County.

The ferry was down while the Max J. Kuney Company of Spokane reconfigured the terminal ramps at a cost of $2 million.

The Sanpoil is 116 feet long, compared to 80 feet for the Martha S.

Officials asked visitors to the christening to carpool, if possible, since parking is limited on the south side of the ferry run.

Officials stated that Elder Jarred has been selected to sponsor the vessel and will break the ceremonial bottle on the hull.



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