Ferry turned around to deliver capt. to another boat

CLINTON — An early-morning ferry from Clinton to Mukilteo was forced to turn around mid-route because of a personnel issue on Wednesday, but the problem may have been unrelated to the staffing troubles that have plagued the system recently.

The captain scheduled to steer the Kittitas at 5:10 a.m. arrived in Clinton the night before and spent the night on the Cathlamet, which was tied up at the dock.

He didn’t get off the Cathlamet before it pulled out at 4:40 a.m. and the Kittitas was without a captain.

The Cathlamet had to turn around to drop off the captain and then resumed its route, arriving in Mukilteo about 5:25 a.m., rider Pam Sipe of Clinton said.

“We had made it more than halfway across and they came over the loudspeaker and said that we had to return to Clinton due to a personnel issue,” Sipe said.

Sipe sent an email to the ferry system about the problem. Ferries chief David Moseley responded that he’s not sure why the captain didn’t get off the Kittitas in time.

“We didn’t miss any sailings but the boats were certainly behind schedule for the first several runs,” he said. “I really apologize for the disruption this caused the morning customers.”

He didn’t say in the email whether a similar situation has occurred before and couldn’t be reached for further comment.

In June, the ferry system cut back its personnel as a cost-saving measure. Since then, more than 50 sailings have been cancelled throughout the system because not enough crew members showed up for work. Twelve of the cancelled boats have been on the Mukilteo-Clinton run and six more on Port Townsend-Coupeville. Several others throughout the system have run late.

The reductions, in most cases one employee per boat, cut the number of staff per sailing to the minimum number required by the U.S. Coast Guard. If any one employee is absent and a replacement can’t be rounded up in time, the vessel can’t sail.

Wednesday’s incident did not appear to be related to the staff issue and likely could have happened any time, spokeswoman Marta Coursey said. The incident will be investigated, she said.

Staff sometimes will sleep on a boat depending on shift schedules, Coursey said. Sipe, who commutes from Clinton to her job at Onamac, a Boeing supplier on Airport Road, said she usually takes the boat at 5:10 a.m. but took the 4:40 a.m. on Wednesday because of the recent cancellations on the 5:10. Sipe was late for work because of a cancellation Monday morning.

She sent an email response to Moseley’s response on Wednesday.

“I think we can all agree that this is not acceptable,” she said. “I appreciate your apology, however, what I really am asking for is a solution.”

Moseley is scheduled to attend a public meeting on Thursday in Clinton to discuss the issues facing the system, including the staff problems.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

Meeting planned

The ferry system has scheduled a meeting for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 18341 Highway 525 in Freeland, to discuss issues facing the ferry system, including recent staff problems. For more information go to http://tinyurl.com/89kf228.

More in Local News

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

Case unresolved: The noose at an Edmonds construction site

Though two were fired over comments about it, police were unable to determine who put it there.

To get drug money, Lynnwood man says he cut 911 wires

Those wires happened to be the ones used by 911 dispatchers, but emergency services weren’t affected.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Investigation recommends girl shot by officers face charges

The teen is accused of assaulting her boyfriend and the responding police officers.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Higher tolls could improve traffic speed in I-405 toll lanes

A report recommends lifting on the maximum toll and charging only by segment.

Most Read