This float marked Taku, which washed up in Olympia, Washington, at first was thought to belong to the Alaska Marine Highway System’s ferry MV Taku. But its source is still unknown. (Courtesy photo / Karla Patten)

This float marked Taku, which washed up in Olympia, Washington, at first was thought to belong to the Alaska Marine Highway System’s ferry MV Taku. But its source is still unknown. (Courtesy photo / Karla Patten)

Unidentified floating object: Float’s origin sails into mystery

Despite supposition, float not from famed AHMS ferry.

When Karla Patten was looking at the beach at low tide outside her Olympia, Washington, home, she was surprised to discover a float with the word “Taku” painted on it.

Olympia, and the Pacific Northwest in general, are no stranger to odd things washing up, from entire trees to the separated feet of the dead, protected from the elements by their tennis shoes.

But what was a float that might have come from a ferry sold to a firm for shipbreaking three years ago — one that primarily operated in Southeast Alaska hundreds of miles of ocean away —doing there?

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The mystery grows from there. Sam Dapcevich, spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said it’s unlikely that the float comes from the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry at all.

While the ferry is perhaps the best known vessel bearing the name, the Coast Guard’s Port State Information Exchange lists more than 20 vessels named after the Taku River, a major source of salmon for the Southeast. The mouth of the Taku is located several miles southeast of Juneau.

“Obviously it’s a landmark name,” Patten said in a phone interview.

The ferry was sold to a Dubai-based company in 2018, and was last seen beached for the breakers on the coast of India. Many other vessels named Taku are registered as active.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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