Camano ferry makes sense

Perhaps the time has come for a regularly scheduled ferry between Coupeville and Camano Island.

Long-time islanders may be hearing “I told you so!” coming from Edmonds, where George Bacon lives. Now a nonogenerian, Mr. Bacon fruitlessly pursued such a ferry for many years, spending money on advertising his idea and lobbying anyone who would listen.

Mr. Bacon proposed a barge-like vessel that would carry automobiles between the two islands. That particular idea is still impractical because of Camano opposition to cars offloading on their beach. But times have changed and now the Port of Coupeville is kicking around the idea of supporting a different kind of ferry.

The two new elements in the mix are the high price of gasoline and the possible availability of a place to unload passengers on Camano Island. Island County would like to save the considerable amount of gas money it spends sending police and other employees to the other island by the lengthy land route, and there is now a dock at the new Cama Beach State Park on Camano. If the port could get permission to use the park as a passenger ferry unloading area, and upgrade its own Coupeville Wharf to handle ferry passengers, it could be ready for business, particularly if Island Transit can serve the ferry passengers on Camano.

It’s hard to see where a daily ferry would be profitable, at least to start. But the crossing of Saratoga Passsage could be done once or twice a week. A tour company at Deception Pass has expressed interest. Since it already has a boat, it wouldn’t have to pay for the vessel strictly with ferry revenues. This gives them an apparent advantage over others that might have to buy a boat to bid on the route. An existing boat running across the passage a couple of times a week, subsized by the county which itself should save money in the deal, sounds like a promising idea.

The idea at least is worth pursuing by the Port of Coupeville, and Island County government should help in the project. Oak Harbor should also get involved. It’s still working on building a pier of its own, and some future route could easily include Oak Harbor to Coupeville to Camano. The existence of the route would certainly make it easier for Oak Harbor to obtain transportation grants for its long-awaited pier.

Let’s hope the time is near when George Bacon’s dream comes true. If he’s still around when the first boat leaves Coupeville, we expect to see him at the helm.

Sunshine greets Race Weekers

Race Week 2008 got off to a sunny start as boaters arrived over the weekend under blue skies.

Hundreds of visitors are in Oak Harbor this week, sailing in the daytime and enjoying themselves at night.

For the community, the 26th presentation of Race Week will be profitable and exciting. Merchants will reap the awards from all the visitors in town and regular folks can enjoy the sight of dozens of colorful sails on the water each day of the week. Just cast your eyes toward Saratoga Passage and you can’t miss them.

Thanks to the Navy, everyone can enjoy a Race Week party. Such festivities are typically reserved for participants. But on Thursday, July 24, the community is welcome to help celebrate Navy Appreciation Night starting at 7 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Adventures on the Seaplane Base. The event is well planned to afford adults a festive evening for only $15 and a safe ride home. If interested, call the Chief’s Club at 257-2891.

Oak Harbor Marina Harbormaster Mark Funk had the facilities ship-shape for the arrival of the visitors, and the new Race Week director, Gary Stuntz, appears to have things very well organized. As of late last week, 120 boats had already signed up, which was more than the previous year.

The weather, the big turnout, the organization and community support should combine to make the 2008 Race Week one of the greatest ever. Welcome to town everyone. We hope you have a great time and return next year.

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