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UPDATED: Smaller ferry to serve San Juans till July 7

Maintenance on one of the Washington State Ferries' largest vessels is not scheduled to be finished until July 7, causing a ripple effect that will result in a smaller vessel being sent here effective Sunday, when the summer schedule begins.

The San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee issued a statement last week warning of 200 fewer vehicle spaces throughout the operating day during the summer schedule until the larger vessel arrives. It said the assignment of a smaller vessel to the San Juans for two weeks "reflects Washington State Ferries’ critical lack of available boats following the retirement of the Steel Electric Class ferries and during its on-going drydock and maintenance programs."

On Sunday, the Evergreen State, 87 vehicles, arrived and took over the interisland route for the Sealth, 90 vehicles, which became a fourth vessel on the Anacortes/San Juans route.

Other vessels serving the islands:

The Chelan, which carries 124 vehicles, serves the international route in the morning and provides service between Anacortes and the islands in the afternoon. The Hyak, 144 vehicles, is serving mostly Anacortes/Friday Harbor. The Elwha, 144 vehicles, is serving mostly Anacortes/Orcas Island.

The 144-vehicle Kaleetan will come to the San Juans on July 7, when maintenance on the 202-vehicle Wenatchee is scheduled to be completed.

WSF spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether said anecdotal evidence suggests that more ferry passengers are traveling as walk-ons because of rising fuel prices. She doubts there will be a logjam of vehicles trying to make it to the islands on the Fourth of July weekend.

"Because of gas prices, I'll be surprised if you feel much of this at all," she said. However, in an earlier press release, she advised, "During the first two weeks of summer schedule, travelers to the San Juan Islands are encouraged to arrive early for their desired sailings, especially over the Fourth of July weekend."

Westbound from Anacortes, the Sealth will operate on the following sailings during peak hours on weekdays:

— 10:05 a.m. to Lopez, Shaw and Orcas
— 5:05 p.m. to Lopez and Friday Harbor
— 8:05 p.m. to Friday Harbor

Eastbound to Anacortes, the Sealth will operate on the following sailings during peak hours on weekdays:

— 8:10 a.m. from Friday Harbor and 8:55 from Lopez
— 12:05 p.m. from Orcas and 12:35 p.m. from Lopez
— 6:55 p.m. from Friday Harbor

WSF has agreed during the July 4 weekend to make available free parking at Anacortes to encourage travelers to park-and-ride. WSF is also making a 144-car Super Class ferry available to replace the Sealth on its scheduled 8:25 p.m. departure from Anacortes to Friday Harbor if demand warrants.

The summer ferry schedule continues through Sept. 27. Besides increased hours of service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route, the schedule also means the following changes:

— Anacortes/ Sidney, B.C.: two daily trips instead of one.
— Mukilteo/Clinton: extra service hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
— Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth: extra weekend service on both Saturday and Sunday.

For more schedule information, visit the WSF Web site

here. Call customer information at (888) 808-7977, or dial 511.

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