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Originally published June 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 25, 2009 at 9:05 AM

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Seattle foundation puts ferry up for sale on eBay

Seattle's Pacific Marine Foundation is offering the 72-year-old M/V Olympic, one of the state's first vehicle ferries, for $199,500 on eBay.

Seattle Times staff

Anybody wanna buy a slightly used ferry?

Seattle's Pacific Marine Foundation is offering the 72-year-old M/V Olympic, one of the state's first vehicle ferries, for $199,500 on eBay.

What would a person do with it? Possibilities abound, said Rich Wallace, director of charters and sales for Pacific Marine. His ideas include turning the vessel into a floating hotel (a group in Stockholm recently did that with a ferry, he noted), using it as a base for a sport-fishing camp.

It also could be an expedition boat, or, for the wealthy or eccentric, a second home.

But whatever happens to the Olympic has to happen soon, Wallace said. The vessel is moored in Eagle Harbor next to the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal, but it will be evicted later this summer when construction begins on a harbor expansion.

The Olympic was built in Baltimore in 1937 and served Chesapeake Bay as the M/V Gov. Harry W. Nice before being bought by the Washington State Ferry System and re-christened Olympic in 1954.

The 207-foot vessel, which has a capacity of 605 passengers and 55 vehicles, served mainly on the Port Townsend-Keystone, Southpoint-Lofall and Clinton-Mukilteo circuits. It was retired in 1997.

In recent years, the Olympic has idled in Eagle Harbor, where it has become a fixture. There was some talk of keeping it in the harbor and converting it for use as offices or as a tourist attraction, but that would require long-term moorage, Wallace explained.

Not to mention money. Wallace estimated that whoever buys the Olympic will have to find financing for about $1 million in conversion work. Pacific Marine has advertised that it would be open to joint-venture offers.

If the Olympic is not sold before the beginning of August, the company will seek a new temporary home for it, closer to Tacoma or elsewhere on Puget Sound. Wallace just hopes to keep the vessel afloat.

"If we can't find someone to convert her and let her live, eventually she'll go to a scrap yard," Wallace said. "Not soon, I hope. Not ever, I hope."

Blythe Lawrence: blawrence@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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