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'No end in sight': San Juan Island residents fed up with ferry delays, cancellations

Washington State Ferries canceled a total of 16 sailings to and from the San Juan Islands Wednesday because of crew shortages.

WASHINGTON — Washington State Ferries (WSF) canceled a total of 16 sailings to and from the San Juan Islands Wednesday because of crew shortages.

The cancellations are due to the No. 1 Chelan ferry being out of service because of the lack of “Coast Guard Documented Crew,” according to WSF.

The ferry resumed service with the final trip of the day at 8:55 p.m. with the Anacortes to Shaw and Orcas sailing.

But residents of the San Juan Islands are fed up with the continued delays or cancellations in their ferry routes. 

"It's horrible, and it gets worse and worse and they keep raising the prices and raising the prices and there's no end in sight," said Robin Garcia, who lives on the island. 

Garcia said she needed to be at a medical appointment in Anacortes Thursday, but said she couldn't trust the ferry system to get her there day-of so she decided to sail off the island early and get a hotel room, costing her more than $100. 

"This is our highway, this isn't just a thrill to take a boat ride, this is how we get back and forth," said Garcia. 

WSF blames a global shortage of maritime workers, as well as sick calls related to COVID-19, for the ongoing cancellations. The agency said they try to notify passengers of disruptions as early as possible, and they're hiring as fast as they can to fill open jobs.

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The following is a list of the canceled sailings Wednesday:

  • 5:30 a.m. Anacortes to Orcas
  • 6:45 a.m. Orcas to Shaw
  • 7:00 a.m. Shaw to Lopez
  • 7:30 a.m. Lopez to Anacortes
  • 8:30 a.m. Anacortes to Friday Harbor
  • 9:55 p.m. Friday Harbor to Lopez
  • 10:40 a.m. Lopez to Anacortes
  • 11:55 a.m. Anacortes to Lopez
  • 12:45 p.m. Lopez to Friday Harbor
  • 1:55 p.m. Friday Harbor to Anacortes
  • 3:40 p.m. Anacortes to Shaw
  • 4:35 p.m. Shaw to Orcas
  • 5:15 p.m. Orcas to Anacortes
  • 6:30 p.m. Anacortes to Shaw
  • 7:25 p.m. Shaw to Orcas
  • 7:50 p.m. Orcas to Anacortes

WSF is encouraging customers to monitor rider alerts for the most accurate information.

Those with reservations on the canceled sailings will receive priority on the later sailings on a first-come-first-served basis. WSF said customers who postpone or choose not to travel Wednesday will not receive a no-show fee.

The crew shortage comes less than a month after dozens of ferry employees called out sick at the same time, forcing the cancellation of several San Juan Islands weekend sailings.

The incident followed rumors of a ferry employee “sick out” in protest of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

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