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A long ferry ride to a very lonely place

Point Roberts, Washington is now one of the most isolated towns in the Lower 48. This free ferry service provides a vital link.

POINT ROBERTS, Wash. — Just before dawn, two days a week, a lifeline sets sail from the Port of Bellingham bound for a location that feels very, very far away.

Point Roberts, Washington is only about 20 miles from the rest of Whatcom County. But it is two international land borders away, and those borders have been virtually closed by Covid.

"How are they going to get to their medical appointments?" said Mike Hogan, spokesperson for the Port of Bellingham, "How are they going to get to the grocery store?"

RELATED: Point Roberts is a Washington State ghost town in the making

This temporary free ferry service, provided by the port, provides a vital link.

"It's an emergency situation. We needed to do something to help those folks," Hogan said.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, walk-on passengers can leave their tiny peninsula community for a two-hour ride to essential services on the other side. And there's plenty of traffic headed the other way, too.

RELATED: Point Roberts businesses may not survive if US/Canada border closure continues, fire chief says

Hogan said, "We have seen quite a few folks from the mainland going to Point Roberts, either to check on relatives, to check on property that they may own up there."

One added bonus: some of the Northwest's most spectacular scenery. 

"It's got to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet," Hogan said.

It's not a perfect solution. But it is one modest connection for people who've been feeling very disconnected for a very long time.

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