Kayaker under dock disrupts ferry service Saturday

A stubborn kayaker at the Clinton ferry dock caused almost two hours of delays in service Saturday, according to Washington State Ferries.

Around 2:30 p.m., a man in a kayak started making his way under the ferry dock, which is a violation of federal code, said Ian Sterling, a spokesman for state ferries. After dock workers told the man he couldn’t be there and the man refused to leave, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Homeland Security Division of Washington State Patrol were called to respond.

Sterling said the concern is both for the boater’s safety and to ensure the man didn’t have “nefarious intentions.”

The incoming vessel wasn’t able to dock because of the incident and had to return to Mukilteo. Because ferry workers didn’t know how long the delay would last, those on-board disembarked. Sterling said passengers were given the choice to either receive a refund or wait in line and get priority boarding when service resumed.

However, Whidbey Island residents who were on the boat that returned to Mukilteo, Sue Ellen White and Rod Parke, both said they were not given the priority boarding option. Parke said he asked three state ferries employees where he could go to wait and what they should do, and no one had any answers.

Washington State Patrol made contact with the kayaker and did a security sweep of the area, according to spokesman Kevin Fortino.

The Coast Guard is tasked with enforcement of a federal code violation, Fortino said.

However, the agency never made it to the scene, according to Amanda Norcross, Coast Guard spokeswoman. She said a small boat was launched from Seattle, but it was unable to get very close because of high tide.

Service on the run resumed at around 4:20 p.m., Sterling said.

He said personal boats should stay away from ferries because the smaller vessels can easily become swamped.

It’s a federal requirement to stay at least 25 yards away from a ferry that is moored and 100 yards away from a sailing vessel.

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