A ferry challenge to Representative Rick Larsen | Guest column

Submitted by Jill Twist

San Juan Island

Dear Rick,

You may have heard a thing or two about the obstacles of our ferry system. You may have even traveled on one to get to our islands. But you do not know what it is like until you depend on it like locals do.

This is why I challenge you, Rick Larsen, to come to Friday Harbor on July 3 and leave on July 5. Use only the ferry reservation system. I will tell you now – you will not succeed.

There will be no tickets available if you try to buy them now. You will have to wait until two days before, as we would have to do. You leave your schedule open, your important appointments unconfirmed.

On July 1, you will wake up at 7 a.m. and try to access the ferry website. It will be painfully, heartbreakingly slow. You will wait. You will cross your fingers and wait.

Somehow you will book a reservation, coming and going. Both sailings are red-eye, the only ones available. Fine, you say, you will sleep in your car on the ferry.

The ferry to Friday Harbor is two hours late. You hear someone say a propeller is bent. You hear someone say all boats are sailing slower to save gas. Finally, it arrives.

You arrive in Friday Harbor. You stay in a house, not a hotel (remember, you are a local). On July 5, you prepare to leave. You arrive at the ferry dock at 5:15 a.m., reservation ready.

You are turned away. There is no more room on the ferry.

How? You say. You have a reservation. You arrived 30 minutes early, as instructed by the ferry website. You waited in line, and now it is your turn, and here is your reservation, and you want to get on the ferry. You have a very important meeting tomorrow. You are Rick Larsen.

You need to get on this ferry.

None of your pleading changes the fact: the ferry is full. The ferry worker sympathizes – your hopes begin to lift – but nothing can be done.

The ferry worker cannot create space where no space exists.

Only then, Rick, will you know. This is how it works when you live on San Juan Island.