Two weeks added to foot ferry at Keystone

The Mystic Sea will serve Keystone for two weeks longer than scheduled.  - File photo
The Mystic Sea will serve Keystone for two weeks longer than scheduled.
— image credit: File photo

Passenger-only ferry service on the Keystone to Port Townsend ferry route will last two weeks longer than originally expected.

The Mystic Sea, the Anacortes-based charter that Washington State Ferries contracted with to provide service on the route, was supposed to serve the route until the end of January. However, it will continue sailing the route until mid-February, the ferry system announced Thursday.

Cars and trucks have been unable to use the route since the Mystic Sea started work on Jan. 5. Instead, they've been making the long, two-ferry detour using the Mukilteo and Kingston routes.

The extension was necessary so work crews can complete additional maintenance and repairs on the 50-car Steilacoom II.

The ferry is currently in drydock at Todd Shipyards in Seattle undergoing it annual inspection. Crews quickly discovered additional work needed to be completed on the vessel, which will extend its drydock period, according to a news release.

The unanticipated work includes replacing the keel cooler along with work on the propeller shaft and gear box. The Steilacoom II is scheduled to return to service on Sunday, Feb. 15. It's owned by Pierce County, which leased it to the state.

The vessel originally went into drydock the first week of January and officials hoped it would be out of service for only four weeks.

The Keystone to Port Townsend ferry route has been served by the Steilacoom II and a variety of passenger only ferries since late 2007. In November of that year, ferry officials pulled the Steel Electrics from service due to safety concerns surrounded the vessels' hulls. A new vehicle ferry is being built and is expected to be ready in 2010.

To maintain passenger-only service on the route, Washington State Ferries extended its contract with Mystic Sea Charters, which is being paid more than $5,000 a day.

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