Ferry Tales: Wrenching Rumors

Misinformation, speculation, rumors, and fabrications ran rampant last Tuesday morning, August 14, as the ferry broke down after the 10:15. Rumors were as thick as this morning’s smoke on the Island.

The smell of smoke that day was faint. The smell on the Ferry that morning was different and Bob, our ferry mechanic, noticed. Something smelled ‘hot’ and, investigating, he discovered that the oil temperature for an outdrive was much too high. A shear pin on an oil pump did what shear pins are supposed to do under stress (shear).  He also realized the consequences if that shear pin wasn’t repaired quickly: As oil temperatures rise, viscosity and lubrication fall.

Making a correct assessment and moving quickly - although it didn’t feel too quick if you were waiting in the ferry line - was critical, if  the outdrive on the Guemes was to continue operating.

No information about why the ferry was out or when the ferry would be up and running was forthcoming, except a brief announcement of the outage posted on LineTime’s message board by a crew member. Rumors that the Strait Arrow was on its way were false. Rumors that oil was ‘burning on the manifold’, rumors that Rachel Rowe was on deck, wrench in hand, that they had found a body in the hold, that the ferry would be down for a week, were all false.

LineTime usually receives information from the ferry manager on the status of ferry outages.  However, Rachel Rowe was not available that day to send out information and has not put in place any other alternative for communication with the riders.

Meanwhile, Bob and others were working on getting the ferry up and running and preventing damage to the outdrive. That’s his job! In the 20 years that I have been riding this ferry, he has saved  our bacon on occasions too numerous to mention. He’s worked with several ferry crews, ferry managers, and skippers during that time and kept the ferry running and ultimately kept riders safe.

We often smile, wave, and chat with crew, occasionally we acknowledge the vessel’s pilot. Acts of heroism by captains and crew are widely acclaimed. We communicate positively and negatively with the County and Ferry Managers but few seem to appreciate Bob. On that morning, we needed a mechanic on board to notice that something was about to go wrong and, because the signal was faint, we needed that particular mechanic, with his decades of experience and knowledge of how that boat sounds, looks, feels and how it smells. Perhaps Bob should receive credit for a job well done.

-Commentary by MJ Andrak

Tags: ferry