PORT ANGELES — North Olympic Peninsula residents will need to find alternative transportation to Victoria for the next three weeks as the MV Coho passenger and car ferry undergoes its annual maintenance.
The ferry went out of service on Tuesday and is scheduled to resume its twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Angeles and Victoria with an 8:20 a.m. sailing from Port Angeles on Thursday, Jan. 26.
The break “is a little longer this year, 23 days, because we lost two years due to COVID,” said Rian Anderson, vice president of terminal operations for Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the Coho ferry.
“It had only been at the shipyard four days each year. So this is a little extra time to make up for lost time,” he said.
Maintenance will include repowering the existing engines, which needs to be done every 30,000 hours, and installing a new emergency generator and emergency switchboard, he said.
The engine work will be done in Port Angeles and the generator and switchboard will be installed in Anacortes.
Anderson said the 63-year-old ship is in great condition.
“We get Coast Guard inspections and visits from the regulatory agencies every year,” he said.
“We’ve taken great care of it. We like to say it’s the egg in our basket. It’s got a lot of life left in it.”
The Coho celebrated the 60th anniversary of its maiden voyage Dec. 29, 2019. It has carried more than 26 million passengers and 7 million vehicles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca since 1959.
An estimated 470,000 passengers, 128,000 vehicles make the 90-minute crossing every year in addition to an estimated $200 million to $300 million in goods per year.
During the crossing, passengers have access to a cafeteria, gift shop, duty free store, solarium and pet-friendly areas.
Possible transportation alternatives during the shutdown include charter flights from Rite Bros. Aviation of Port Angeles; Washington State Ferries service from Anacortes, Orcas Island and Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) to Sidney, which is 17 miles north of Victoria; and Alaska Airlines out of Seattle to both Victoria and Vancouver.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at email@example.com.