All Aboard

Property Watch: Live Aboard This 1938 Ferry in Tacoma

Three levels, plenty of deck space, and room for dancing make this nautical beauty a catch.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd December 22, 2021

Ferries live all kinds of lives after they’re decommissioned. At least two in Seattle, MV Skansonia and Hiyu, are popular event venues for weddings. A couple of former Washington State Ferries retired to Tanzania to shuttle people between Zanzibar and the mainland. Another became a scallop farm.

Annabelle, a spacious liveaboard ferry docked in Tacoma, started her life at the Dalles in 1938, hauling cars across the Columbia River and back; while a bridge across that stretch of water had been planned for years, it didn’t open until 1953. Annabelle then served Herron Island starting in 1960, where she spent the remainder of her 50-year career. 

Her new life began in 1994, when owners Dennis and Kat Redmon started converting the ferry into a three-level, three-bedroom living space. Kat was in med school when they first brought Annabelle through the Ship Canal, says Dennis. After graduation, Kat landed a job in Lakewood, so they moored the vessel at Petrich Marine Dock in Tacoma.

Because this liveaboard is an entire ferry, it has significantly more space than typical maritime accommodations. The open layout on the first level has a living room, dining room, and a library—with a piano. Combined, the living and dining areas create one big, open 14-by-35-foot space with hardwood floors, and Dennis notes it “can be used for ballroom dancing.” The kitchen is off to one side past a tall counter with seating, perfect for mid-dance refreshments.

All together, Annabelle has about 2,300 square feet of interior space, so there’s a lot to work with here—and the bedrooms on the second floor aren’t the least bit cramped. One even has a walk-in closet. Every view is a water view, and there are plenty of windows to take it all in, plus access to the second-level deck. Nautical details are everywhere in this home, from porthole doors to old steering wheels used as decor, but it’s especially concentrated in the cockpit on the top level. It appears that the only changes are an added desk in the corner. 

While the interior is spacious, it has even more outdoor space, with more than 2,800 square feet of deck. The cockpit peeks up into a sprawling roof deck spanning the entire top of the ferry. The back deck on the first level alone is large enough for a boat hoist (boats on boats!), a hot tub, a barbecue, and an outdoor dining set, with plenty of space left over for general lounging. 

Even with all the creature comforts, this boat is still a fully functional ferry. The Redmons tell me that they’ve cruised through the San Juans with Annabelle nine times, along with regular trips to the Hood Canal and around the South Sound. The boat’s anchor is a whopping 500 pounds, and it can chill pretty much anywhere; a desalinator, generator, and inverter system keep everything comfy. It’s been hauled out—that is, lifted out of the water and inspected—in the past year.

From hauling Studebakers to showing up at Seafair, Annabelle’s been sailing Pacific Northwest waters for 83 years—and is still looking both robust and cute as all get-out.

Listing Fast Facts

Petrich Marine Dock, Tacoma, The Sea
Size: 2,300 square feet inside/2,800 square feet outside, 3 bedroom/2 bath
List Price: $825,000
Listing Agents:
Matt Palmer, NW Yachtnet/253-310-7162

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