The skipper on the Mukilteo-Clinton run began working for Washington State Ferries in high school.

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FERRY CAPTAIN
Mike Schilling

What do you do? I work for the Washington State Ferries (WSF) as a captain aboard the Kittitas on the Mukilteo-to-Clinton run.

How did you get started in that field? I started working aboard WSF vessels as a summer employee when I was in high school and college. This last summer was my 43rd working for WSF.

Washington State Ferries Captain Mike Schilling (Courtesy of Mike Schilling)
Washington State Ferries Captain Mike Schilling (Courtesy of Mike Schilling)

What’s a typical day like? On a typical day we make eight round trips between Mukilteo and Clinton. Each one-way trip takes about 14 minutes, and then we spend 16 minutes offloading and loading the vessel. We typically carry 100–125 cars aboard the vessel each trip and about 150 passengers. Because of the short crossing time and frequent sailings (about every half hour), the Mukilteo-Clinton run carries the most vehicles in the ferry system. Last year, we carried more than 2.2 million vehicles on that route.

What surprises people about what you do? The number of rescue operations that we conduct each year. It varies from vessels in distress to fatigued divers to vessels out of fuel. There are a lot of them and people aren’t aware about that aspect of our job.

What’s the best part of the job? The view from the “office,” working with great shipmates and making landings. It’s hard to beat those things. There’s just nothing like seeing a beautiful sunrise or sunset or a pod of killer whales, while you’re on a ferry boat.

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