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Wanted: Writer-in-Residence on the Interisland Ferry

ferry sign

Soon my role as Writer-in-Residence (WIR) on the interisland ferry will officially end (though I hope to continue to ride and write periodically since I found ferryboat writing productive and fun). I think the Washington State Ferries, as well as the interisland crew, have enjoyed having a writer aboard, so I’m hoping another will want to fill the volunteer position.

want ad

I’m inexperienced at writing want ads, so I searched “How to Write a Job Posting” for guidance. I found a clever template from Betterteam. Read on to see how I followed the advice to advertise for the next WIR.

  1. Use a killer job title. Include the name of the position and the top one to three things that will make the job attractive to an applicant. Well, that’s easy!

Job Title: Writer-in-Residence on the Interisland Ferry—a floating “writing office” on the Salish Sea.

  1. Add an emotive introduction. This is a single paragraph that gives three to five details applicants will find most exciting about the job.

As Writer-in-Residence on the interisland ferry,  your creativity and productivity will benefit as you ride and write (at no cost) among four Washington State islands in the Salish Sea—San Juan, Orcas, Shaw, and Lopez. You’ll feel freed from timelines and expectations with the gentle movement of the ferry and the ever-changing scenery outside your window. Look up from your keyboard or writing pad to catch glimpses of cormorants, bald eagles, harbor seals, gulls, Madrones, firs, cedars, rocky shorelines, and occasionally, whales. This is an ideal residency for writers who live in the San Juan islands as it doesn’t require relocating or spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to cover lodging, housing, and transportation. route (1)

3.  Tell your company story. Information about your company that applicants will be excited about, awards, accolades, and work culture facts that will interest them.

Washington State Ferries are considered part of the state’s “marine highways” system with a fleet of 22 ferries and 20 different ports of call. It’s the largest ferry system in the U.S., the third-largest in the world, and the third-largest transit system in Washington State. For the San Juan islands, these vessels are the only practical link for vehicles, goods, and services between the islands and the mainland.

SashaYour traveling companions might include commuters to a variety of jobs in the San Juans; students; people making deliveries of fresh produce, sand and gravel, lumber, beer and other beverages, and livestock; Mahjong players; musicians; school sports teams; and other writers.

crew-appreciation.jpgAnd you’ll be in capable, friendly hands with the MV Tillikum crew, recipients of the Customer Service Reliability Award in 2017.

  1. Really sell the position. Rather than the typical laundry list of bullet points, only include requirements that are essential to this job.

If you enjoy writing and can commit to doing so on the interisland ferry once or twice a week (for up to a year), you might be the right person for this position. Although the residency isn’t intended to promote ferry ridership, it could offer such opportunities. It also lends itself to press releases and blog and social media posts announcing and updating the project.

  1. Push your location. Another easy one.

WSDOT - Ferries - M-V Tillikum (1)Your “office,” the MV Tillikum, measures 310 feet in length, can carry over 1000 passengers and 87 vehicles, and travels 13 knots (about 15 mph) on its interisland route (never going to the mainland). The ferry leaves its home berth in Friday Harbor each morning around 6:00 and makes five circles until it returns to Friday Harbor around 8:30 pm. You can board at the time convenient for you and remain on board until the final stop at your destination.

tillikum plaque (1)

The last of the “Evergreen class” vessels in the state ferry system, the Tillikum recently celebrated 60 years in service. You’ll be charmed by the vessel’s brass fixtures, wooden slat benches in the bow and stern, and the sepia-toned photographs of Coast Salish Indians at work. A galley offers beverages, soup, sandwiches, and snacks for purchase.

While you might find pleasant “interruptions” including chats with the crew and other passengers, wildlife sightings, and fire drills (comforting to know the crew keeps emergency practices current), the absence of consistent cell service and free Wi-Fi will help you remain focused on your writing.

6. Repeat why they should apply. This section is a quick bullet-pointed recap of the top five to six reasons someone should apply to your job.

  • You can walk on to the ferry for free, then ride, write, and read as the vessel routes among the San Juan islands in the Salish Sea.
  • Crewmembers and passengers are friendly and welcoming; they’ll love what you’re doing.
  • Hours of solitary writing and reading in your floating office.
  • You’ll maintain all rights to the writing you produce (though don’t be surprised if WSF—and other outlets—want to publish your work).


  1. Spell out the application process.

rainbowApplication for this volunteer position is simple. Email the current writer-in-residence at with a brief description of why you’d like to be the next writer-in-residence, goals for your term, and how you envision filling the term (i.e. expected frequency of riding the ferry, any writing projects you plan to work on while riding and writing, and length of term—up to one year—you desire). It would be helpful to know if you currently blog and/or if you intend to blog about the WIR experience. You may be asked to submit a writing sample.

Application deadline: September 30, 2019.

5 comments on “Wanted: Writer-in-Residence on the Interisland Ferry

  1. I SO wish I lived in the San Juans! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish you did, too! You’d be perfect for this residency.


  3. Appreciate youur blog post


    1. Thanks for reading, Vincent.


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