The MV Hiyu fetched not a single bid, but the ferry system hopes it can find a buyer. “The last resort — it could be sold for scrap,” a ferry spokesman said.
Nostalgia only counts for so much, the Washington State Ferries system found out Wednesday. The warm feeling of owning an old state ferryboat could not inspire a single bid for the MV Hiyu, which was up for auction on a surplus site. The vessel’s minimum bidding price was $300,000.
Back to the drawing board, state ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said.
That could mean advertising on a national listing site, Sterling said, or taking a second look at its price.
“The last resort — it could be sold for scrap,” Sterling said. But, “it still has hope.”
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Old vessels like the Hiyu don’t always find a home right away, he said.
“It’s not unsurprising that it didn’t sell. It’s outlived its life as a Washington state ferry and there are a lot of things that make it prohibitive to operate in the United States,” Sterling said.
Moorage can be expensive. The state requires bidders to submit a plan describing where they will take the boat. Plus, the Hiyu requires a crew of five people to operate legally.
“It sounds romantic to own an old state ferry,” Sterling said. “But when you look into the actual cost of what that might be a lot of the dreamers wake up to that reality.”
Sterling said the Hiyu has selling points.
“It is a lot smaller than other state ferries. While our system has outgrown it, others have not,” he said. In an assessment, the ferry received good marks for maintenance.
Another ferry, the Evergreen State, was also listed for surplus sale.
Built in 1954, it was the oldest in the ferry system fleet and comes with drive engines from a surplus World War II destroyer, Sterling said.
“(The boat) seems to be garnering some interest, so that will stay on auction for now.”
Surplus state ferries have mostly met untidy ends, with a few notable exceptions. Sterling said the state hopes to avoid that fate with both boats.
“We’re a little more responsible about how we recycle ferryboats these days — we’re hopeful it will go to a new home,” he said of the Hiyu.