Passenger ferry due for Port Townsend haul-out accidentally beached en route
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Rich Passage 1 on the beach near Oak Bay Campground at Portage Creek canal Monday afternoon. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK — The 117-passenger ferry taking an established shortcut from Bremerton to Port Townsend for winter maintenance made an unscheduled stop early Monday.

The Rich Passage 1, owned by Kitsap Transit for commuter use between Bremerton and Seattle, went aground in the narrow Portage Creek canal separating Indian Island with Port Hadlock.

The boat was en route to Port Townsend for haul-out for the winter, a Kitsap Transit spokesman said.

Rich Passage 1 was on the beach near Oak Bay Campground at daybreak.

“It’s not really how I planned to spend my afternoon,” Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson told The Kitsap Sun later Monday.

“It could have been a lot worse. It could have had some major damage.”

In the morning darkness, the skipper took the twin-hulled foot ferry on the wrong side of the channel marker, Clauson said.

The skipper tried to back off the beach, but the boat didn’t easily break free, so he shut it down to prevent sucking anything into the water jets, Clauson told the Sun.

By the time Vessel Assist of Port Hadlock and a Coast Guard boat from Port Townsend arrived, the Rich Passage 1 was fully grounded.

Coast Guard experts inspected the boat and didn’t find any damage other than some scraped paint, Clauson said, who added that the boat should be able to be refloated in an early morning high tide today.

Kitsap Transit completed wake testing on Rich Passage 1, including four months while carrying paying passengers, last Nov. 2.

Preliminary results indicate that the catamaran’s wake is small enough to operate between Bremerton and Seattle in narrow Rich Passage, where wake erosion has been a concern to beach property owners.

But scientists continue to analyze data and will produce a final report in March.

The boat was supposed to go to Port Townsend earlier, but the state needed it to help out on the Seattle-Bremerton route for a couple weeks when car ferries were out of service.

Last modified: January 28. 2013 6:22PM
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