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The Seldovia Bay Ferry Project

The Seldovia Village Tribe is proud to present the Seldovia Bay Ferry, and its new vessel the Kachemak Voyager — designed specifically to serve the communities of Seldovia and Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

Kachemak Voyager

Kachemak Voyager - Seldovia Bay FerryKachemak Voyager on maiden voyage – blessing by Seldovia Village Tribe.The Kachemak Voyager is a new 82′-7″ x 29′-2″ catamaran custom-built by All American Marine of Bellingham, Washington. Passenger seating capacity is designed for 150 and consists of modular transit-style seating (with indoor and outdoor seating available). The vessel is equipped with a hydraulic crane and is capable of carrying light freight totes.

Kachemak Voyager - General Arrangement
Seldovia Home Port

Seldovia Bay Ferry is home ported in Seldovia Harbor in the city of Seldovia. Access to the ferry is via the ramp at Seldovia Harbor. Tickets can be purchased right on the ferry.

Homer Terminal

Vessel Moorage Dock JJ [green arrow] – Click to view larger map.

Seldovia Bay Ferry contracted a terminal on the Freight Dock Road side of the Homer Small Boat Harbor. This terminal inclused secure parking for overnight passengers, a passenger shelter, employee area and storage to support ferry operations. In addition, SBF plans to construct public access improvements to provide direct access to docks JJ and AAA. These improvements will include: 150′ aluminum light-freight pier with crane; a 50′ x 7′-8″ aluminum fixed pier with 110′ x 6′-6″ aluminum gangway and an extension to dock JJ to accommodate the new gangway. These improvements were coordinated with the City of Homer and their Harbormaster and will be built and installed by Topper Industries of Battle Ground, Washington.

Project History

In 2004, the Seldovia Village Tribe initiated the Seldovia Bay Ferry Project (previously known as the Kachemak Bay Ferry Project) to provide economic stimulus to the community of Seldovia, Alaska. The Seldovia Bay Ferry was initially funded through a grant from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. SVT received funds for a transportation project that would provide economic development to the communities of Kachemak Bay. That grant money was used to: conduct feasibility studies to determine the type of vessel that will best serve Kachemak Bay communities; design, construct and launch a passenger/light-freight vessel; recruit, hire and train staff; and design and construct infrastructure such as piers, gangways, docks, ticket offices, etc.

Lockheed Martin proposed vessel - SWATH multi-hull designInitially, Lockheed Martin proposed what it calls a, “VariCraft®” or SWATH-type vessel. Lockheed personnel suggested that a vessel of this type would be capable of sustained operations in sea state 5 (15-foot seas) and Congress approved the first $2 million for the project. The vessel was proposed to operate from unimproved sites throughout Kachemak Bay and was to be a 100-foot long, wide-beam vessel capable of carrying two tractor-trailer rigs, twelve passenger vehicles and sixty to seventy passengers with a four man crew. The anticipated vessel, which was to showcase military technology in a commercial application, was touted by its proposers as a, “rugged craft ideally suited for Alaska waters;” however, as evidenced by the similar Matanuska-Susitna Borough vessel built by Alaska Ship and Drydock, the vessel could not be designed and constructed with available funds.

Specifically, the Lockheed Martin vessel was determined to be unfeasible for the following reasons:

  1.  Initial capital costs proposed by Lockheed Martin were not realistic.
  2.  Reduced funding for the project was realized following Senator Stevens’ loss of his key position as Senate Appropriations Committee Chair in 2005 and then following his resignation from the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation where he served as Chair for the 109th Congress. The project only received $8.7 million of the $14 million in federal funds as originally requested.
  3.  Additional independent analysis showed that the Lockheed Martin vessel would replace the AMHS.
  4.  Finally, with a new Commissioner, AMHS changed its position regarding their support of a SBF demonstration project where smaller ferries like the Lockheed Vessel would feed AMHS’ larger ferries and decided to compete directly against SBF’s ferry to maintain their market share.

Design, Development and Feasibility Process

Once the Lockheed Martin Vessel proved to be unfeasible; Seldovia Native Association, Inc. undertook its Design, Development and Feasibility Study to determine how best to proceed with the SBF service. The Study analyzed a range of ferry vessel alternatives including:

  • Fast passenger-only catamaran with the capability to carry light freight
  • Conventional (low-speed) landing craft
  • Catamaran (medium-speed) landing craft
  • Hovercraft
  • Traditional mono-hull ferry

The study identified the fast passenger-only catamaran with light-freight capability as the “Preferred Alternative” and when considered in conjunction with the findings of the Request for Proposals, the project team identified All American Marine, Inc. of Bellingham, Washington to build and deliver the Seldovia Bay Ferry vessel. This design met and/or exceeded the criteria of the Study’s Preferred Vessel Alternative and provided a significant cost savings over other design options.

Similar All American Marine vessels have proven themselves in Alaskan waters by Kenai Fjords Tours and Stan Stephens Cruises and the design has established itself as a vessel with high fuel efficiency, low wake wash energy, excellent sea-keeping and an extremely smooth ride.