MV Kennewick to be lone ferry on Port Townsend-Coupeville route come Monday

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend-Coupeville route will return to one-ferry service starting Monday morning, according to Washington State Ferries officials.

The MV Chetzemoka, which has been running the route with the MV Kennewick to accommodate crowds for Labor Day weekend and the Wooden Boat Festival, will head back down to Seattle on Sunday night to be put back into service on the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route Monday morning, said John Vezina, state ferries spokesman.

The Chetzemoka has been used twice to help cover the route between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island while the MV Salish, the vessel that usually runs the route, is in dry dock in Anacortes for repairs.

The Salish has been out of commission since Aug. 8, when it ran aground while attempting to dock at Keystone Harbor on Whidbey Island.

When divers inspected the vessel, they found extensive damage to the drive shaft due to lines from crab pots. Since pulling the vessel out of the water, state ferries officials also have found damage to at least one of the Salish’s propellers and damage to the vessel’s rudder, according to Ian Sterling, state ferries spokesman.

“That is probably damage from the grounding,” Sterling said.

He said it is still unclear as to when the Salish might be able to be pushed back into service.

“It sounds like it’s going to be awhile,” Sterling said Thursday.

The ferries have suffered a rough summer, with a number of boats having to be pulled out of service for repairs. Currently, the state ferries system has 22 vessels total and needs 19 to run the full summer schedule, according to Vezina. Currently, 18 boats are in service.

The pressure on those 18 ferries will be reduced soon as the Washington State Ferries fall schedule kicks in on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route Oct. 1. The fall schedule reduces the daily sailings and uses one boat.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]

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