Ferry Safety

If you're not from around here, the crossing from Mukilteo to Clinton will seem like a major event. In fact, you really are embarking on a voyage across the briny sea, albeit a short one. The same safety rules apply. Yes, you really ought to know where the life jackets live, and you definitely, absolutely must follow all instructions given by the crew. Well, I'm going to impart a little local knowledge, and tell you something you might not know.

The boats are designed to distribute weight evenly, with car decks on each side to balance the load. And there's a very good reason for having staircases on each side: That's the device that the designers used to make sure that the weight of the passengers is also distributed evenly. The theory is that with two sets of stairs, passengers who choose to go up to the cabin will end up on the same side of the boat as their cars. Now, the weight of the passengers won't make much difference near the bottom of the boat, but once everyone is on the second level, their combined weight has enough leverage to tip the boat right over, if everyone ends up on one side. You'll notice that there are two boats on the Whidbey run. Most people assume that that's to make sure that we don't have to wait too long to get onto the island. That's true, but there's another reason: If too many people crowd onto one side of the boat, and the boat tips over, there will still be a spare ferry.

Anyway, Happy April Fools' Day, and come visit us, soon. And when you do, please remember to stay on the same side of the boat as your car.