MV Rhododendron


This is a former Washington State Ferry, the MV Rhododendron, named for the state flower.

She is now a support vessel for an oyster farming group on the east coast of Vancouver Island where I saw her a few weeks ago.

I was reminded of the surprise I felt to see the former BC Ferry Queen of Tsawwassen in Toba Inlet a couple of years ago.

I wrote about that encounter here.


Originally built in 1947 she sailed in Chesapeake Bay as the MV Governor Herbert R. O’Conner. 

She first sailed for Washington State Ferries as the MV Rhododendron in 1953.

She was bought as a stop gap measure while other ferries were to be built, but remained in service for 30 years.

She then spent seven years in storage before being totally reconditioned in 1990 and returned to service for another 22 years.

She last sailed as a ferry early in 2012, and was sold into her present service a year later in 2013.

(All data from Wikipedia and a Washington State Ferry history site here)


Canon EOS 5D MkII, Canon 100mm/f2.8 macro lens, ISO100, -1.0 EV; f4.5, 1/2000th (bottom); f5.0 1/1,600th (top).



5 thoughts on “MV Rhododendron

  1. Wow, ehpem, serious memories of that boat. She used to run between Mukilteo and Clinton on Whidbey Island, I rode on her many, many times throughout my life.

    Why is it that all of our old ferries seem to end up dying in BC? This is really interesting to me. And sad, in a way.

    The biggest tragic loss of all (in my opinion) is the former San Mateo – the last steam-powered ferry ever to serve a US route. Ended up being left to rot in a Fraser River backwater; I believe she’s all but disappeared now, all her beautiful fixtures stripped, sinking into the mud. I remember as a child in the early 60s, listening to her whistle as she ran between Edmonds and Kingston on the North-Sound run. A steam whistle at sea in the fog is a wondrous sound, especially to a young boy with dreams of the sea.

    Thank you, ehpem, once again, for the beautiful (if melancholy) memories…


    • Hi Sam – thanks again for a terrific comment. I suppose these vessels are dying, but less so than if they were being cut up on an Asian beach by men with torches. I don’t think I ever rode on this vessel – the routes she served were not ones I used during her lifetime, though I certainly don’t remember all the times I rode ferries in Washington State.


      • Hi, ehpem

        I agree, I suppose – it’s just always a little sad when something you remember fondly from childhood comes to an end.

        Well, you know what they say – old age, it’s not for wimps. 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

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