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Cathlamet out for repairs

"Photo: Cobbled back together for emergency use while at Washington State Ferries' repair yard at Eagle Harbor, the M/V Evergreen State is doing stand-in duty for the M/V Cathlamet, which suffered a propulsion failure Saturday.Matt Johnson / staff photoJudging by the ferry line running up the hill through Clinton Monday, you'd think the weekends never end on South Whidbey.For the second time in a month, the most reliable ferry in Washington state, the M/V Cathlamet, came up lame Saturday. A propulsion failure forced the ferry out of service, leaving thousands of weekend travelers stranded in long ferry lines in both Clinton and Mukilteo as they waited for a ride aboard the run's remaining ferry, the M/V Kittitas.Until this year, the Cathlamet had been the ferry system's most consistent vessel, winning several recent awards for registering no run cancellations over the course of several years. The ferry's record performance has since fallen apart. In early July, a propulsion problem caused the ferry to pull away from the Clinton dock unexpectedly. Then, on July 19, the Cathlamet's crew found itself unable to coax the big boat into the dock and had to request the help of a Navy tug. The M/V Quinault filled in for several days while the Cathlamet underwent repairs.Saturday's failure, said Clinton dock supervisor Dan Fergusson, was due to another propulsion problem. It manifested itself during the 6:30 a.m. run. The Cathlamet was taken out of service immediately. As a consequence, ferry lines on both the Clinton and Mukilteo sides backed up all day long. Dock personnel had to wait until 3 p.m. before the 100-car Evergreen State docked for relief duty.And now we feel the pinch, Fergusson said, noting ferry lines were still long as of Monday afternoon.The Cathlamet's recent failures were not expected, considering the vessel's record.And now they're having their fair share, Fergusson said.As of Tuesday afternoon, State Ferries estimated that it would be Wednesday afternoon before the Cathlamet came back on line on the Clinton-Mukilteo run. Fergusson said Island County Fair traffic could be impacted if the ferry stays out much longer. "

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