Infernal week ahead for State Ferries

WSF announced a hiccup in the plan to swap out one boat for another on the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

The Fourth of July holiday is bound to be anything but smooth sailing, as Washington State Ferries has announced a hiccup in the plan to swap out one big boat for another on the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

Repairs on the 144-car Suquamish are taking longer than anticipated thanks to damage incurred from a crab pot line, the ferry system reported Wednesday.

“Suquamish went into our Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility in May for its annual maintenance layup period,” said Justin Fujioka, ferries spokesperson. “It was during this time the damage was discovered. The boat was then moved to Everett Ship Repair late Monday, June 24, to go into drydock. Over the past few days, we discovered the extent of the damage and what was needed for repairs.”

The boat was supposed to replace Tokitae – which also holds 144 cars – when it heads out for its federally mandated five-year drydocking on June 30. For the past month, the route has also been serviced by the 90-car Sealth, which has led to backups and at least one missed ferry for a Record reporter.

Now an even smaller boat might join the route. Fujioka confirmed that the 64-car Salish, which has been operating as a third “bonus” boat on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, may be shuffled to fill in for Suquamish if it’s not ready in time for the upcoming holiday.

“If Suquamish’s return to service is delayed more than a day, we will look at options to move several vessels around across several routes,” Fujioka said.

Speaking of Independence Day, the ferry system estimates that 700,000 riders will board ferries from June 28 to July 7.

Some may have wondered why the planned maintenance couldn’t be completed earlier in the year, instead of the summer that is peak travel time. Fujioka explained that due to the system’s continued vessel availability constraints, there has not been a time where a consistently available service relief vessel would have allowed for Tokitae’s drydocking to happen sooner.