The Rhododendron, a 65-year-old ferry that was retired from the state fleet last year, has found a new home.
Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc., based in Cape May, N.J., purchased the boat for $275,000, according to Marta Coursey, a spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries (WSF). The company, which owns and operates oyster, scallop and geoduck farms along both the East Coast and the coast of Vancouver Island, plans to use the boat as its operations support vessel for its scallops aquaculture sites around Vancouver, Coursey said.
Atlantic Cape Fisheries plans to drive the Rhody, with a retired WSF crew, to Nanaimo, B.C., next week, she said. The state and the fisheries company closed on the deal Tuesday.
The Rhododendron was originally built in Baltimore in 1947 and was restored in 1993 to serve the Point Defiance-Tahlequah run. The Rhody — a classic ferry, with brass railings, polished benches and a wrap-around exterior deck — was the oldest in the state’s fleet when it was retired a year ago.
When the state put it up for sale, WSF officials said it was valued at $750,000. An entity with the online handle “Kingstontown” offered $300,000 to purchase it last fall, a deal that never materialized. After the state got no other takers, officials said it was possible the ship could be given away to a maritime engineering program.