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Ferry problems plague Whidbey routes

The ferry M/V Evergreen State, sent to the Clinton route to replace the ferry Kittitas, leaves Clinton on Monday. - Brian Kelly / The Record
The ferry M/V Evergreen State, sent to the Clinton route to replace the ferry Kittitas, leaves Clinton on Monday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

CLINTON — It’s gotten a little harder to get from here to there.

And vice versa.

The ferry M/V Kittitas was pulled off the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry route after the vessel, which can carry 124 cars, developed propellor problems during the 2:30 p.m. Saturday sailing from Mukilteo.

Ferry spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether said a controllable pitch propeller went out at about 2:50 p.m. and the ship lost power. The Kittitas didn’t reach the dock in Clinton until 3:30 p.m.

The route went down to one ferry, the M/V Cathlamet, causing waits of three hours or longer into the evening.

The 34-car ferry Hiyu was brought into service on the route on Sunday afternoon as traffic backlogs continued because of one-boat service. Many travelers gave up the wait for the ferry and turned north to leave Whidbey via Deception Pass.

Ferry troubles weren’t limited to the Clinton route, however.

The ferry M/V Steilacoom II was taken off the Keystone-Port Townsend route for repairs after a fuel injector failed. Sailings were stopped for six hours early Saturday, and the Steilacoom II didn’t return to service until the 12:45 p.m. run from Port Townsend.

“It’s been a bit of a rough weekend,” Harris-Huether said.

It will be a longer fix for the Clinton-Mukilteo run. Ferry officials have not said when the Kittitas will return to the route.

On Monday, the ferry system brought in the M/V Evergreen State, an 87-car ferry, from the San Juan Islands inter-island route.

“There is slightly less capacity, but she is providing service, as well as the Cathlamet,” Harris-Huether said.

Some sailings were delayed Monday because the north slip at the Clinton terminal was the only slip available until the Kittitas was moved out of the second slip to be taken elsewhere for repairs.

George Capacci, the WSF’s deputy director of operations and construction, said the Kittitas was taken to a commercial shipyard to diagnose the problem.

“It could take several days to repair,” Capacci said.

The Kittitas was plagued by steering problems in September.

The vessel was pulled from service on Monday, Sept. 13 for roughly an hour, then was taken out of service for more than 12 hours on the weekend of Sept. 18.

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