San Juan ferry problems impacting businesses

Washington State Ferries says people travelling to and from the San Juan Islands should prepare for ongoing delays especially on the weekends.

Relief is coming for people traveling to and from the San Juan Islands starting Wednesday.

Since Sunday, the ferry Samish has been in the shop, so to speak.

There's a problem with the coupling between the transmission and the driveshaft. That meant the ferry system has been down a vessel on the Anacortes to San Juan Islands sailings.

The ferry Yakima will return to the route starting Wednesday after being out of service for repairs, WSF announced Tuesday.

Sasha von Dassow, who runs a small refrigerated trucking business, said jammed ferries have caused him to be late with some deliveries of produce and dairy this week.

“I started today at 4:45 a.m. going to the ferry and expect to get home around 8:30 tonight with the temporary schedule, fog delays, and long ferry load times that have become standard in the last months. Frankly, if ferries routinely ran on this sort of non-schedule, I probably would not have started my transport business. Too insecure, too much time waiting, and too difficult to justify financially,” he wrote in an email.

Tucker House Inn, which is in Friday Harbor, said they're losing some last minute travelers, who are wary of the sometimes long lines at the ferry dock in Anacortes. They're usually 100 percent full this time of year, but now they have a few empty rooms.

“We definitely want to get them some relief during this busy time of year, unfortunately when you don't have a deep bench, this is the situation we're in,” said Ian Sterling, spokesman for Washington State Ferries.

Sterling said the system doesn't have enough vessels to get that routes up to service when a breakdown occurs. That's why they're working overtime on the Samish, though they don't have a timeline for repairs.

“Help is on the way, it's all hands on deck here at ferries, our maintenance and repair staff is working nearly around the clock to make that happen,” Sterling said.

That's not the only problem the ferry system juggled Tuesday. There were disruptions on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route after the Salish ran into a sandbar. That route went from two vessels to one, and the ferry system advised travelers to take alternate routes until they get it back up to full service.

The Salish will remain out of service Thursday.

More info on ferry service alerts here.

© 2017 KING-TV


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