SEATTLE — The famous steam whistle aboard the wooden-hulled Virginia V is about to sound once more.

The steamer, the only such vessel to survive on the shores of Puget Sound, emerged from a Ballard shipyard just in time to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The ship’s maiden voyage for its centenary laden with navigations will take place on July 10, a circumnavigation of Bainbridge for the island’s historical society.

What was the key to his longevity, where others have perished?

“For some reason, this particular ship has made some very important friends over its lifetime,” said Debra Alderman, executive director of her nonprofit.

Case in point: when the fledgling foundation was trying to buy the ship in 1979, Ivar Haglund, founder of the famed Seattle restaurant chain, stepped in to help raise half of the necessary funds.

Other supporters over the years include former Washington State Secretary of State and Bainbridge Island native Ralph Munro.

The wheelhouse aboard the Virginia V. The ship made its maiden voyage 100 years ago on June 11, 1922.

“A lot of crazy people like me who never understood that a boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into,” Munro joked. “I’m very proud of her. She overcame everything.”

The Virginia V is one of only two remaining ships of what was known as the “Mosquito Fleet” that transported people and goods between cities in Puget Sound in the days before well-defined routes and the prevalence automobiles. The other, the Carlisle II, still serves Kitsap Transit’s Port Orchard-Bremerton foot ferry run.

A fungus in the wood surrounding her hull was rotting the ship. About 80% of her planking and 40% of her frame had to be replaced, as had the vertical bow of the ship, at a cost of nearly $2 million over the past 15 months.

Inside the Virginia V, the only steamboat still in operation in Puget Sound.

“It’s free-floating and almost ready to go,” said Doug Dixon, marine engineer and manager of Pacific Fisherman shipyard in Ballard.

Dixon said the shipyard donated nearly $400,000 to the cause of Virginia V’s restoration. The boat was refloated on Memorial Day.

Dixon echoed others in pointing out that it was the ship’s connection with so many different people opening their wallets to save her. Dixon himself married on the ship in 1978.

The steamer was the latest in a line from Virginia owned by a company that at the time sailed to communities on the less traveled western part of Vashon Island. The so-called “West Pass Transportation Company” had the Virginia V built just south of Olalla, where Anderson & Company sourced old growth for its hull, the foundation says on its website.

Eighty percent of Virginia V's planks were replaced during a 15-month period in drydock at the Pacific Fisherman shipyard in Ballard.

The maiden voyage, from Seattle to Tacoma on the west side of Vashon, took place exactly 100 years ago on Saturday. The ship made the same trip every day for about 16 years, although an autumn storm that crushed her upper decks into the dock at Olalla in 1934 took her out of service for repairs.

The traditions of the ship have helped make it an icon. Seattle’s “Camp Fire Girls” made trips to Camp Sealth on Vashon from Seattle every year until 1970. During World War II, the Virginia V ferried workers to Keyport Naval Torpedo Station between there and their homes in Poulsbo. He even passed a passage over the Columbia River to transport people between Astoria and Portland.

Through various owners, the Virginia V always seemed to find people willing to invest in the repairs and upgrades needed to keep it running.

The Virginia V, Puget Sound's last steam ferry, spent 15 months in dry dock for restoration work at the Pacific Fisherman shipyard in Ballard.

It was in 1976 that the Steamer Virginia V Foundation was formed, four years later buying the boat for $127,000. Since then, he has invested millions of dollars in the ship, a National Historic Landmark, raising around $250,000 every two years.

Today, the ship calls at South Lake Union, although it is frequently seen in Puget Sound this summer and fall. Alderman said it’s also possible the ship could find a home in salt water on the off-season Puget Sound, as it’s easier on its wooden hull than on the fresh water of Lake Union.

A unique challenge has been finding workers who understand its complex and rather mysterious inner workings as a steamship, Alderman said. Its diesel-powered steam engine is actually older than the ship itself, at 118 years old.