Backups expected as ferry gets dockside checkup

Just as the tourism season is kicking into high gear, the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry route is losing a boat for most of the day on Tuesday, June 18.

The reduction to one-boat service is bound to increase wait times, but it could be worse.

Ian Sterling, spokesman for Washington State Ferries, said officials arranged with the U.S. Coast Guard to have the five-year safety inspection of the 144-car Olympic Class vessel Tokitae take place at the Clinton dock.

Normally, the ferry would have to travel to the state’s boatyard at Eagle Harbor for an inspection, which could take anywhere from a day to week.

In fact, Sterling said this might be the first time for a dock-side ferry checkup.

After the Tokitae arrives at 9 a.m., divers will take a look at the submerged parts of the boats. They will note such things as cracks, corrosion, worn parts, tangled crab pot lines and whale-shaped dents.

“It’s a relatively new boat so we don’t expect any issues,” Sterling said.

Last year, the Tokitae and Sealth received awards for 100 percent mechanical reliability in a calendar year.

If all goes well, the Tokitae should go back into service at about 4 p.m.

The $144-million ferry, which was partially built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, was designed so that underwater inspections are easy, he said.

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