Ferry Tales: Survey This!

Guemes, get your act together.

Harsh words have been said and written regarding the need for a new ferry. Friendships have been strained because of differences in opinion on the subject. Both public and private meetings have been held ad nauseum. Island organizations have endorsed and opposed a new ferry, losing valuable members because of controversy. Editorials written and ignored.

Ferry lines are still long, schedules difficult to adhere to and ticketing is controlled chaos at busiest times. Weddings, music, summer festivities bring many visitors  to the island. Visitors that have no vested interest in the ferry, it’s cost, it’s crew, or it’s riders. Some show up with $100 bills to pay their fares.

The recent Delphi Maritime Condition and Value Survey is pretty detailed and specific. It includes cost from complete refit to scrapping the vessel. The survey includes everything from ladders, fire extinguishers, light bulbs, propellors, engines, electrical and doors. All meet USCG regulations requirements for compliance. “The remaining useful life of the hull structure is estimated at 20 years.” (Exactly the same result as the survey done just a few years ago.)

The study also estimates that there is a 5 year Remaining Economic Useful Life  in present condition and a 15 year extended Economic Useful Life in upgraded condition.

Even so funding for new ferry is far from certain. Support fragmented. Time frame for build questioned, capacity still being debated, and ferry lines will still be long (primary criticism). Let’s accept the estimated 15 year useful life of the ferry graciously. Let’s fund the upgrades and maintain the vessel scrupulously and maybe increase that useful life to 20 years, especially now that Volkswagen Settlement funds may be available to offset a lot of the cost.

After reading the survey and agreeing with most of it, I wonder why, with more pressing issues, the new ferry is taking up so much Guemes Island and County energy. According to many Climate Change scientists, our planet is not guaranteed 15 years extended Economic Useful Life.

-Commentary by MJ Andrak