Tacoma ferry turned luxury home on board is for sale

A Tacoma family who called a 1938 car ferry home for almost 30 years reluctantly put the boat up for sale.

Moored under the Murray Morgan Bridge on the city’s Foss Waterway, the 70-foot Annabelle is home to Dennis and Katherine Redmon.

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In 1994, the Redmon family purchased the Annabelle, a ferry that once served The Dalles, Oregon, in the mid-20th century, and turned it into their home. It sits along the Foss Waterway as a home for the family. Redmon regulars take the 70-foot vessel on trips around Puget Sound. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

The 12-car ferry once served The Dalles, Oregon on the Columbia River and later on Herron Island off the west coast of the Key Peninsula.

The Redmons bought the ferry in 1994 and quickly made it their home by building what they called “a little house on the ferry”.

“We bought the ferry as a leap of faith,” said Dennis Redmon on a tour last week. “It was something we thought had potential, but not something that other people did a lot.”

The deck that once carried white-sided Packards and Ford antlers now contains bookcases, comfortable furniture, and an upright piano.

In 2003, the deck and home were replaced with the current 2,300 square foot three-deck home with sweeping views of downtown Tacoma, the Narrows Bridge, the San Juan Islands, or wherever they choose. to take him away.

This ferry-boat is no queen of the docks. Although it no longer carries vehicles, it is fully operational. The Redmons ply the waters of Puget Sound for weeks or just a day trip to Titlow Beach, Olympia and Browns Point.

Annabelle is neither elegant nor bright. Most people recognize it is a ferry, Redmon said. Some ask if it is still in use.

“It’s very accessible,” he says. “It’s not like you have a big fiberglass yacht, you have a lot of money and you usually don’t want to be bothered.”

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Moored under the Murray Morgan Bridge on the town’s Foss Waterway is the Annabelle, a 12-car ferry converted into the home of Dennis and Katherine Redmon. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

Now the couple have put the ship up for sale. The asking price: $ 825,000.

“She is a family member to me, my wife and my daughter,” he said. “So there are mixed feelings on that side.”


Built at The Dalles, the open deck supported a mechanical room and a wheelhouse. It carried cars and passengers on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.

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Built at The Dalles, the open deck supported a mechanical room and a wheelhouse. It carried cars and passengers on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. Since then, they have invested $ 450,000 in construction and renovation, including brand new propeller shafts. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

Redmon has the original ferry plans.

When a bridge was built in 1955, Annabelle found herself unemployed. But not for long.

The ferry served Herron Island from 1960 to 1989.

After her retirement, Annabelle spent a few years inactive at Shelton.

Seattle residents at the time, the Redmons first saw the Annabelle while cruising their Chris-Craft in 1993. Later that year, he saw an advertisement for it in a magazine. yachting magazine.

He first checked the boat with a friend.

“And it took us about six months to rally my wife and do some due diligence on it,” he said. They paid $ 29,000.

Since then, they have invested $ 450,000 in construction and renovation, including brand new propeller shafts.

When they brought Annabelle to Tacoma, they told Clare Petrich, owner of the Petrich Marine Dock, that they would only be there for six months.

“She just laughs when she tells the story now, because we’re the longest tenant they’ve had in the entire property,” Redmon said.

House on the water

A visitor will hardly know they are on a boat until they see steeper-than-normal stairs, portholes, and stunning views of the water. And there’s the occasional tipping.

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Dennis Redmon looks out the sliding doors from the master bedroom onto the second Annabelle deck. Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

The galley is cavernous by nautical standards. A full size fridge and freezer are located near a washer and dryer.

The main ground floor contains the kitchen, living room, dining room, library, guest bedroom, full bathroom, pantry and workshop. There is still enough room outside the structure to load a vehicle.

The second deck contains two bedrooms and a bathroom.

The upper deck is made up of the ship’s deck.

“I spend a lot of time here on the shore,” Redmon said. “It’s basically my office area. “

A large outdoor space includes lounges, a hot tub, and possibly the shortest distance between the fish and the kitchen in Puget Sound.

The entire vessel can pass under a 33 foot high bridge. He can also use the largest of the Ballard Locks to reach Lake Washington.

When the Redmons first bought the Annabelle in 1994, their daughter Sierra was two years old.

When she was in second grade, Redmon was driving her to school when he noticed she was moody.

“I said, ‘Is something bothering you? And she said, ‘Well my classmates think I’m a liar. I told them I was living on a ferry and they called me a liar ”.

Soon a ferry excursion was organized for the whole class. Her classmates never doubted her again.

“We did one every year after that,” Redmon said.

Smooth navigation

The ferry provides a smooth ride, Redmon said. But it’s not built for the open ocean.

The vessel can be switched from offshore power to on-board power using inverters and batteries. It has a generator but only runs about two hours a day to recharge the batteries.

Below deck is the engine room. A bank of carbon dioxide tanks will discharge if a fire breaks out. If that happens, everyone must vacate the scene, Redmon said, as the entire structure will fill with fire extinguisher CO2.

Like most operating ferries, the ship has two propellers, one at each end.

With rudders at the bow and at the stern, the bridge has two steering wheels. It maneuvers like a tugboat.

“She can spin like a top in place or go sideways,” Redmon said.

But, it takes two people to dock. It helps to have friends who can crew, he said.

The ship is a bit more complicated than a Chris-Craft. Redmon is working on a manual for the next owner.

“But, if you are not able to handle things on your own, you will have to pay someone,” he said.

Redmon said it’s cheap to operate.

“My 36-foot Chris-Craft burned about a gallon of gas per knot driven and that’s about what that consumes as well,” he said.

The cruising speed is 5 knots and it can carry 1,400 gallons of fuel.

This slow speed makes it more vulnerable to currents.

“When we go down the Narrows you have to be careful of the tide,” he said. “At least not (go) against that.”

Why sell?

“It has been a wonderful home for us,” said Redmon from the Annabelle Bridge.

Redmon is retired from the State Revenue Department. Katherine Redmon is retiring from her career as a medical assistant in February.

Redmon said the couple are committed to selling.

“We would like to travel a bit more (on earth),” he said. He also wants to be closer to his parents, both aged 90, who live on Whidbey Island.

The ship went to the market in the summer. Retired ferry captains have expressed interest in buying Annabelle, but no one has made a commitment.

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A partial view of the Murray Morgan Bridge and downtown Tacoma is seen through a porthole on the Third Annabelle Bridge over Pete Caster pcaster@thenewstribune.com

“The right person will have to come and buy it,” he said.

What does the Redmon girl think of the sale?

“She hates it,” Redmon said. “She doesn’t want us to sell it and made it clear enough.”

This story was originally published December 26, 2021 5:00 a.m.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune since 1998 as a writer, editor and photographer. He previously worked for The Olympian and for other newspapers in Nevada and California. He graduated in journalism from San Jose State University.

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