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Inter-island ferry service for San Juan Islands canceled for second straight day

Service is suspended Tuesday because of a crew shortage.

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Wash. — Inter-island ferry service for the San Juan Islands was canceled Tuesday due to a crew shortage, according to Washington State Ferries (WSF).

WSF said Tillikum is out of service Tuesday for the second consecutive day and the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route will operate on an adjusted sailing schedule due to the interisland boat being out of service for the day. New reservations are not accepted for Tuesday, but the changes will not affect travelers with existing reservations, WSF said in a bulletin posted on Tuesday morning.

Here are the schedule adjustments for Tuesday:

  • The 6:20 a.m. departure from Anacortes will make stops at Lopez, Shaw and Orcas before arriving in Friday Harbor.
  • The 8:05 a.m. sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes will make an additional stop at Orcas.
  • The 9:30 a.m. sailing from Anacortes to Friday Harbor and the 11:05 a.m. from Friday Harbor to Anacortes have been canceled.
  • Customers with reservations on the 9:30 a.m. sailing to Friday Harbor should take the 8:30 a.m. sailing instead. Customers with reservations for the canceled 11:05 a.m. sailing to Anacortes can take the 1:55 p.m. departure to Anacortes.
  • The 4:15 p.m. sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes will make added stops at Orcas and Shaw, along with Lopez.
  • The 6:00 p.m. departure from Anacortes to Lopez and Friday Harbor and the 7:45 p.m. sailing from Friday Harbor to Lopez and Anacortes are canceled.
  • Customers planning to travel on the now-canceled 6 p.m. sailing should take the 4:30 p.m. sailing to Lopez and Friday Harbor.
  • The 7:50 p.m. sailing from Orcas will make an added stop at Lopez to accommodate travelers affected by the cancellation of the 7:45 p.m. sailing.

Some people who live on San Juan Island are frustrated saying the inter-island ferry frequently is not working due to staffing issues and other problems.

“We built our lives here around a functioning ferry service,” said Forrest Allison, who lives on San Juan Island.

A ferry system spokesperson told KING 5 that the inter-island ferry operates on a bare minimum crew of people so that when even one person is not there, it can cause the ferry to not be in service. This is a problem locals want to see be addressed, but the spokesperson said the needed jobs take extensive training and certifications.

“The ferries feel like they're in disrepair and getting worse,” said Allison. “The crew shortages are a huge problem.”

The WSF spokesperson added that the interisland ferry is one of the oldest in their fleet.

“I don't know exactly what the problem is, but it feels like nobody's really fighting for us,” said Allison. “It feels like the money's not going to the right places and I just don't know what the solution is.”

Any inter-island westbound traffic attempting to get from Lopez, Shaw or Orcas islands to Friday Harbor was re-routed through Anacortes/Lopez on the 8:25 p.m. Anacortes to Lopez and Friday Harbor sailings, according to WSF.

"WSF staff are working as quickly as possible to fill the open position," WSF said in a bulletin on Monday. "We will continue to provide additional updates as they become available." 

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