Big boats moored in Holmes Harbor

Two of the four had left by last Friday morning.

Whidbey residents living near Holmes Harbor were treated to the sight of four gigantic vessels that anchored in the harbor this week while awaiting space to open up at neighboring ports.

The 1,105-foot Seaspan Brightness, the 1,099-foot Maersk Singapore and the 748-foot CMA GCM Africa Four are all container ships.

The much smaller 590-foot Oasis Island is a bulk carrier.

Greenbank resident Christina Sanguino, along with many others, observed the boats’ presence, from their massive bulk to their myriad of lights that switched on at nighttime.

“They’re huge,” Sanguino said. “They’re like little cities.”

The boats were bound for either the Port of Seattle or the Port of Tacoma when they were delayed, according to Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier, a spokesperson for the United States Coast Guard.

He said Holmes Harbor is “more infrequently used” compared to other places where the boats usually anchor.

The delay is a result of a few different things, which have created a “domino effect,” Strohmaier said.

A fishing vessel caught fire early Thursday morning at the Port of Tacoma, closing part of the port down where the Seaspan Brightness was supposed to go.

Snowstorms across the nation have also impacted many modes of transportation.

“The whole country — between trains, trucks, ships — is backed up,” Strohmaier said.

Melanie Stambaugh, senior communications manager for the Northwest Seaport Alliance, said the Maersk Singapore was one of the vessels directly impacted by the bad weather.

The CMA GCM Africa Four, she said, picked up more imports and was set back by that.

The Oasis Island left the Port of Everett about two weeks ago, according to Catherine Soper, a public affairs manager for the port.

Strohmaier said all four ships are scheduled to leave Holmes Harbor within the next few days once space becomes available at the ports, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the harbor will be empty after that.

Another vessel, he said, is most likely bound for the harbor.

There are four “parking spots” available for the big ships.

He added that the Port of Seattle is much less busier than other ports in the country, where vessels are usually waiting offshore.

The boats in Holmes Harbor are fully staffed and all crew members are aboard, although Strohmaier is uncertain if the ships are undergoing maintenance or needing fuel.

As of Friday morning, the Seaspan Brightness was in the Port of Tacoma and and the Maersk Singapore was in the Port of Seattle.

The other two vessels were still in Holmes Harbor.