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Friday Harbor ferry traffic disrupted by faulty ramp

Foot passengers disembark the inter-island ferry at the Friday Harbor ferry landing. The inter-island boat, the Sealth, is just the right height to reach the ferry terminal
Foot passengers disembark the inter-island ferry at the Friday Harbor ferry landing. The inter-island boat, the Sealth, is just the right height to reach the ferry terminal's crippled ramp.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

Dispatched from Washington State Ferries' maintenance facility on Bainbridge Island earlier today, a repair crew is expected to arrive on San Juan Island at about 3:45 p.m. to fix an inoperable loading ramp that's caused a backup at the Friday Harbor ferry landing since mid-morning.

The malfunction so far has prevented vehicles on three Friday Harbor-bound sailings from off-loading, beginning with the arrival of the international boat at 11:05 a.m. Though walk-on passengers were able to disembark in Friday Harbor, the intentional boat was directed back to Anacortes with vehicles onboard.

"It's the first time it's ever completely locked up on us," Zach Akien of Anchor Management said of the loading ramp. "We've got power and we've tried all the tricks and maneuvers we've tried before, but it hasn't worked."

Anchor Management operates the ferry terminal under contract with WSF. After the repair crew arrives, Aiken said the scheduled 4:15 departure could possibly have vehicles onboard, "If all the stars are aligned."

Despite the malfunction of the main ramp, the ferry terminal has not been entirely inactive. Foot passengers and a single vehicle were able to disembark off the inter-island boat, the Sealth, when that sailing arrived at about 2 p.m. in Friday Harbor. Passengers and vehicles were also able to board and leave the island.

According to Aiken, the Sealth is able to use the ramp when others have not because of the combination of a rising tide and the natural elevation of its car deck. The bigger boats ride lower in the water and the landing's secondary ramp, which remains operable, can be positioned to reach the Sealth's car deck.

As of 3:30 p.m., the staging lots for automobiles in Friday Harbor were reportedly all full.

— Scott Rasmussen

 

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