Smaller ferries lead to lines

An engine problem on one ferry, a required inspection of another and the swapping of vessels led to long lines this week on the Clinton-to-Mukilteo route.

Officials hope things will start to go faster by this weekend as the 144-car Suquamish was due back Thursday, but Thursday afternoon the wait departing from Mukilteo was 90 minutes with vessels running 20 minutes late, according to State Ferries.

The Samish was pulled from the route between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands last week because a problem with a second engine required it to operate at a slower speeds. It was swapped with the newer Olympic-class Tokitae, which has been serving the Clinton-to-Mukilteo route.

In addition, the smaller Kitsap, with a 124-car capacity, has been filling in for the Suquamish while it gets its annual Coast Guard inspection.

While the return of the Suquamish should provide some relief, the route will still be down approximately 20 cars an hour until the Samish engine is fixed and the Tokitae can replace the Kitsap, according to Ian Sterling, spokesman for State Ferries.

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