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Washington to list passenger ferries on eBay

OLYMPIA – Washington plans to auction two mothballed foot-passenger ferries, the Chinook and Snohomish, on eBay.

The boats have been tied up at the Eagle Harbor ferry maintenance yard on Bainbridge Island since financial troubles caused the state to shut down fast ferry service between Bremerton and Seattle in September 2003.

Marta Coursey, spokeswoman for the state ferry system, the country’s largest, said the state wants more than the appraised value of $4.5 million per boat and will not use eBay’s “buy it now” feature. The listing will be posted after Thanksgiving.

The vessels cruise at 35 knots and carry 350 passengers. The Chinook began service in 1998 and the Snohomish in 1999. They cost about $10 million apiece.

The most expensive item sold on eBay so far was a $4.9 million business jet, spokeswoman Kim Rubey told the Kitsap Sun this week.

The state has used eBay once before, selling the smaller foot-ferry Tyee for $560,000.

Ferry Director Mike Anderson said that if no one makes an acceptable offer on eBay, the state will hire a marine broker to sell the vessels.

In authorizing the sale, the Legislature directed that proceeds go to counties that are willing to offer passenger-only service.

The Port of Kingston has asked for $900,000 to help finance a route between Kingston and downtown Seattle. King County also will apply, following a County Council vote this week to take over the state’s passenger-only run between Vashon Island and downtown Seattle. The county also will take over the Elliott Bay water taxi and test five other runs on Puget Sound and Lake Washington.


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