By Angela Knight
It is comforting to sail into the harbor at night and see the boats at the maintenance facility lit up like nautical Christmas trees. Take a closer look and you might spot merry red vending machines offering beverages and snacks, and flashing monitors broadcasting advertisements—all on vessels without a single passenger on board. According to Broch Bender, WSDOT Ferries Division, there are several practical reasons for the lights, which have nothing to do with aesthetics.
At times, the lights are on so WSDOT engine crews can work on a vessel. Crews also need lights “when they test the vessel’s generator because the tests require a full electrical load distribution,” Bender said in an email. “We leave lights on for our night watchman to see by when checking vessels. Lastly, even if we are not working through the night, some lights throughout the vessel are required to be kept on as emergency lighting.” Practical considerations aside, those floating night-lights are a welcome sight for weary ferry passengers. They say, “You’ve arrived at your destination.”