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Chetzemoka’s hocus pocus
Assistant Transportation Secretary for WSF David Moseley said about the new Port Townsend to Coupeville ferry Chetzemoka, “The proof is in the sailing.” Indeed! The ferry, supposedly specifically designed for this most tempestuous of routes, has been sailing for about two weeks after much fanfare and spin, yet has already had sailings cancelled several days due to high winds.
Clearly, in order to cope with Admiralty Inlet weather and tides, the route needs larger ferries (144 car) and a larger, deeper terminal to accommodate them (farther down the beach where the terminal was previously).
In addition, the Chetzemoka has no more capacity (64 cars) than the ancient Steel Electrics did, which were already insufficient five years ago to handle weekend traffic from April to October with two ferries running.
I’m glad we have a new ferry, since it’s better than the bouncy 50-car rental ferry affectionately known by locals as “Bob.” But this solution does not correct the central issues of coping with Admiralty Inlet’s extreme conditions, insufficient capacity, and allowing for any future traffic growth. Even having two such ferries, not yet assured, is half a loaf and well over $100 million misspent.