Ferry cruises back in town after 50 years

Community members cheer and wave as the historic Tourist No. 2 ferry arrives this morning at the 17th Street Dock in Astoria.

Astoria’s ferry is back.

The Tourist No. 2, which ferried people and cars between Astoria and Megler, Washington, until shortly after the opening of the Astoria Bridge in 1966, pulled into the 17th Street Dock today. About 25 people were waiting to greet its long-awaited arrival.

The vessel’s owner, Christian Lint, sailed from Bremerton, Washington, out of Puget Sound and down the Washington coast into the Columbia River.

The local nonprofit Astoria Ferry placed a $15,000 deposit on the ferry and hopes to buy it from Lint on contract. The group plans to make the ferry a tourist attraction similar to the Astoria Riverfront Trolley, offering rides to the public and holding private parties on board.

Before the Astoria Bridge opened in 1966, a group of ferries lugged passengers and their cars between Astoria and Washington state. The Tourist No. 2, which also laid mines at the river’s mouth during World War II, operated for more than four decades until the bridge made ferry service obsolete.

Last year, Robert “Jake” Jacob, the majority owner of the Cannery Pier Hotel, learned the ferry, renamed “MV Kirkland,” was moored in Bremerton.

Lint, a weathered sailor, has made voyages around Africa, the Caribbean and northern Alaska. Today, he called this trip challenging, but fun.

“I knew that the boat belonged here after I heard the history of it,” he said.