Anyone planning a getaway to the San Juan Islands this summer will need to plan even further ahead than usual over the coming weeks.
Two broken boats are causing significant delays and hurting businesses.
Brian Goodremont has already seen a dozen whale watching trips canceled this week at Friday Harbor's San Juan Safaris. That's thousands of dollars during the busiest time of the season.
"The ferries are our lifeline," he said. "If we lose 10-percent of our revenue because of an infrastructure issue, whether it's phone, internet or ferries, it's a real challenge."
Earlier this week, one of the five ferries that serve the San Juans went down with major mechanical issues. At the same time, the ferry service's only available backup boat went down, as well.
The system is now running 20 percent below capacity at a time when ridership is up 50 percent.
"We make 75 percent of our revenue in the 90 days of summer," said Goodremont. "This is tough."
The ferries have temporarily stopped accepting reservations, making availability unpredictable.
That means longer lines and standard waits of two hours, or more. The ferry service is asking people to arrive at least 90-minutes early and to consider walking on whenever possible.
On Friday afternoon, the ferry line in Friday Harbor was packed once again. Some waited more than five hours before they boarded. The situation has many canceling their trips altogether.
Restaurants and inns are losing reservations.
A ferry spokesman said crews are working overtime on the problem, but it will be at least another week before they'll have another boat online.
At the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director Becki Day urged travelers not to panic. "We just need to let them know we're still open. It might take you a little longer to get here, so just plan accordingly," she said.
The San Juan ferries are operating on an emergency schedule until further notice.
You can also check ferry bulletins here.
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