Ferry miscue leaves some riders concerned

"When a 10 p.m. ferry thwacked against a wall of timbers and ran well past its slip at the Clinton ferry dock Monday night, dozens of island-bound travelers thought they might be getting home a little late that night. According to Washington State Ferries, the miscue was part of a training exercise, during which the ferry's first mate was at the controls under the supervision of the captain.Susan Harris, Ferries spokesperson, said Thursday that the mishap did not take the ferry far off course, nor did it cause any damage to the ferry or its docking facility. She said it is standard practice for the ferry system to train first mates and captains during off-peak ferry runs. This time, the trainee made a mistake while docking.We do have to get people broken in on the runs, Harris said.Alison Pugh was one of the passengers aboard the ferry. She said the ferry came close to hitting a sailboat anchored near the dock. While many passengers took no notice of the near miss, others grew curious when the ferry backed up and made another run for its slip.Everybody was pretty confused as to what was happening, Pugh said. Harris said the ferry system tracks its ferries on a Global Positioning Satellite system 24 hours a day. The incident aboard the Monday ferry did not register as a significant course deviation."

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