Ferry service all jumbled

MUKILTEO – When the ferry Cathlamet slammed into the Mukilteo terminal Friday, it set off a chain of events that continues to disrupt commuters on Whidbey Island, the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle and Vashon Island.

The Mukilteo to Clinton route is among the state’s busiest.

Investigators still don’t know what caused the ferry to crash into part of the dock Friday, throwing passengers to the deck and destroying part of the landing’s wooden structure.

Washington State Ferries expects to wrap up its investigation within a week, according to spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether. The U.S. Coast Guard also is conducting an investigation.

No one was seriously injured in the crash. However, a few passengers have called Washington State Ferries complaining of aches and pains, Harris-Huether said. The Department of Transportation’s risk management division is handling their complaints.

When the Cathlamet plowed into the bundle of wooden pilings, called a dolphin, that help guide ferries into the terminal, the dolphin splintered into pieces, puncturing a hole in the ferry’s hull. The Cathlamet is now being mended at an Everett shipyard.

The Mukilteo-to-Clinton run is one of the state’s three busiest ferry routes. Instead of reducing service there, state ferry officials decided to move vessels from less-traveled routes.

Ferry officials shuffled vessels of various sizes around.

On the routes leaving from Fauntleroy in West Seattle, a smaller ferry was substituted for the 124-vehicle ferry Issaquah, which is taking over for the Cathlamet on the run between Mukilteo and Clinton.

They also reassigned one of the two ferries that usually runs between Port Townsend and Keystone on Whidbey Island.

“It definitely puts a cramp in people’s travel because now you have to sit and wait twice as long,” said Susan Grantham, an administrator at the Port Townsend Visitors’ Center. “It is causing a lot of problems, but our people are adaptable.”

Harris-Huether said the ferry system hopes to have the Cathlamet back in service by the end of this week or early next week. A temporary dolphin is scheduled to be installed Wednesday or Thursday. She said she doesn’t know how much the crash will end up costing the state.

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