Wayward dinghy delays Clinton-Mukilteo ferry departure

Crew members of the Clinton-Mukilteo M/V Kittitas tow a wayward dinghy out of the ferry lanes last week. - Bob McConnell photo
Crew members of the Clinton-Mukilteo M/V Kittitas tow a wayward dinghy out of the ferry lanes last week.
— image credit: Bob McConnell photo

It was a hoot for Flat Stanley, but only a slight delay for everyone else.

And if you’re missing a rowboat, you can pick it up at the fishing pier in Clinton.

The 10 a.m. sailing this past Wednesday of the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry M/V Kittitas was delayed while a drifting dinghy was towed out of the way.

Bob McConnell of Greenbank and his wife Janet Marshall-McConnell were in the vehicle holding lanes waiting to board the ferry, and photographed the action, or non-action.

McConnell said he saw the empty dinghy drifting into the ferry lane from the north. Two crew members lowered a rescue craft, corralled the dinghy and towed it to shore, tying it to the fishing pier next to the ferry dock.

“As far as I know, it’s still there,” Susan Harris-Huether, Washington State Ferries spokeswoman, said Thursday.

Accompanying the Greenbank couple on their trip across the water was Flat Stanley, a small cutout doll popular as a school project for young students. The dolls are taken on family trips and their exploits are photographed.

The couple is accumulating Whidbey Island experiences for Flat Stanley as a favor to Luke Fregoso, 8, the son of friends who live in Agour Hills, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles.

“Flat Stanley had a great adventure,” Marshall-McConnell said of the ferry episode.

McConnell said it was the first ferry delay the couple had experienced in the five or six years they’ve lived on the island, despite making the trip to the mainland once or twice a week.

“It was just a slight difference from a normal ferry ride, that’s all,” he said. “The crew got a break, and probably enjoyed it.”

Harris-Huether said that although the Kittitas left Clinton late, it arrived nearly on time in Mukilteo.

“They put the pedal to the metal,” Harris-Huether said. “It really didn’t impact service at all.”

She said ferry crews frequently retrieve wayward vessels drifting across their path, as well as the occasional log. If an empty craft has a serial number, the Coast Guard is notified, she said.

“It give us extra practice, which is a good thing,” Harris-Huether said. “We have to drill anyway, so we might as well be doing something.”

The longest recent delay on the Clinton-Mukilteo run occurred on Thursday, Nov. 19, when the ferry was held up more than three hours following a report of a body in the water near the Mukilteo Ferry Dock. Vehicles waiting for the ferry along Highway 525 in Clinton stretched for more than a mile. Some occupants grew weary of the wait and turned north to exit the island across Deception Pass.

The search of the channel came up empty, but a week later the body of a 97-year-old Everett man was discovered on the shore of Mutiny Bay near Old Beach Road.

The man’s death was later ruled a suicide.

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