March 6th, 2023

International ferry run cancelled by state

It was COVID sanctions that struck the first major blow to the popular international ferry run between Anacortes and Sidney, B.C. Now the state says the combination of an aging vessel fleet and staffing shortages mean the run is cancelled indefinitely, possibly until 2030.

Where the historic run operated with one U.S./B.C. trip daily in the Spring and two trips in the Summer, there will now be zero. The health of the tourism industry on both sides of the border will be felt.

A 2012 parade marked the debut of “Don’s Joy,” the ferry float which emerged recently from Lovric’s Shipyard. Owner/operator of the ferry is the Anacortes Sister Cities Association, members of which will march proudly with the float in the community parade. This image was provided by ASCA representative Duane Clark, who notes the vessel is a work in progress. Last year was the Sister Cities Association’s 25th anniversary year with Sidney, B.C. Celebration was limited to an online video call.

WSF statement from Ferry Service Restoration plan, February 28: 2023: “Vessel availability has recovered from the maintenance backlog in the initial months of the pandemic; however, the vessel pillar remains at high risk because of an aging, diminishing fleet. In coming years, vessel availability will become a major constraint, especially in restoring international service to Sidney, BC. With no WSF vessels built between 2000 and 2010, due to the passage of I-695 in 1999, the fleet is aging, with 11 of
the 21 vessels over 40 years old, including five over 50 years old.”

The statement continues: “Vessels are in service more than 20 hours each day, making required maintenance time difficult to schedule. To restore service reliably, WSF must be able to schedule planned maintenance for all vessels by rotating them in and out of service, which is made more challenging due to the lack of spare vessels and limited drydock space in Puget Sound. New vessels take multiple years to build, with the next not expected to be completed until 2027.”

Steve Berentson

About Photographer Steve Berentson

A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.

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