One-boat service returns; damaged MV Salish expected to be out until end of August

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry route will revert to one-boat service Monday.

The MV Salish, which ran aground trying to enter Keystone Harbor last Tuesday, is expected to be out of service at least until the end of this month, said Ian Sterling, public information officer for Washington State Ferries.

Crab pot ropes tangled around the ferry’s propeller shaft and worked into some of the seals that keep water out of the engine and electrical systems, Sterling said.

A lack of available dry docks means repairs won’t begin until Aug. 21, he said.

The ferry route between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island was down to one-boat service by the MV Kennewick after Tuesday’s grounding.

The state ferry system brought the MV Chetzemoka to Port Townsend for the weekend to handle traffic on one of the historically busy weekends on the route.

However, the Chetzemoka will head back down to Vashon Island on Monday to handle the morning commute.

Only three ferries can run the Keystone route, and as of Monday, only one ferry will be available, according to Sterling.

Keystone Bay on Whidbey Island has the state ferry system’s most difficult dock, he said.

“We’re keeping an eye on anything else we can do,” Sterling said. “It’s all hands on deck right now.”

The ferry hit a sandbar despite having one of the ferry system’s most experienced captains at the helm, Sterling has said. It was brought back to Port Townsend.

Until the Salish returns, the route — which is usually served by two ferries in the summer — will be down to about 50 percent of the scheduled sailings for the summer season.

Also, a number of tidal cancellations are expected at the end of August.

Starting Saturday and running until Aug. 22, the morning ferries from roughly 6:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. will be canceled between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.

Sterling encourages people to walk on the ferries, if that is an option, or take ferries farther south such as the Kingston ferry.

Washington State Ferries has reached out to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to get the word out that crab pots shouldn’t be set near ferry routes.

“We know shuffling schedules during the summer is a challenge for residents, businesses and tourists, and we want to thank them for their patience,” said Amy Scarton, state ferries assistant secretary.

“We’ll continue to assess service options beyond [today], and we’re exploring all avenues to get the Salish up and running again as soon as possible.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

 

Steven Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News The MV Salish is hooked up to a tug late Friday night in order to be towed to a repair facility after running aground while approaching Keystone Harbor last Tuesday.