Petersburg Pilot -

Rainforest Ferry Service delayed again

 


In the works for awhile, Rainforest Islands Ferry Service has been delayed yet again.

The ferry was set to sail June 14, then postponed to June 28.

“We were so close” to that start, spokeswoman Heather Hedges said, but work at the shipyard was delayed.

The 65-foot landing craft made its way up to Ketchikan from Anacortes, Wash. on Monday and sea trials have just begun with another U.S. Coast Guard inspection scheduled.

The first delay was due to a wait on USCG certification.

“As long as everything goes smoothly,” Hedges said, service is expected to start in mid-July.

The ferry, called the Rainforest Islander, will provide service between Petersburg, Wrangell and Coffman Cove four days a week year round.

Rainforest Islands will also be providing a mini-coach shuttle service on the islands it serves.

Those interested in using the service should keep an eye on rainforestislandsferry.com for updates. Hedges said reservations are no longer being taken until there’s a guaranteed start date.

About 30 people total were affected by this delay. She added that customers have been great about it and flexible.

Those with confirmed reservations will get a free sailing.

The ferry will arrive at and leave Petersburg’s Banana Point ramp, about 25 miles south of the city, and can hold 29 passengers, four to six cars and freight.

The service is unique in that there’s car-free fare, Hedges said.

Trips between Wrangell’s Shoemaker Bay and Banana Point are $25 for adults, $45 between Coffman Cove and Banana Point and $40 between Coffman Cove and Wrangell. Seniors and children ride at discounted prices.

Based out of Coffman Cove, Rainforest Islands Ferry Service is run by the North End Ferry Authority, which has been trying to restart a ferry connection on the route for over three years.

It was once offered on a larger vessel by the Inter-island Ferry Authority. When the IFA ended its service six years ago due to costs, the North End Ferry Authority was formed.

Hedges noted that the Rainforest Islands Ferry Service is being started up by loan funds, not grant funds, so there’s no competition with the Alaska Marine Highway System.

AMHS has had some of its own issues to deal with.

It’s faced cancelled sailings due to mechanical issues and state budget delays. Some 26 cancellations resulted in a loss of $30,000 due to government shutdown fears with the delayed budget and state budget cuts, according to Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesman Jeremy Woodrow.

He added that it’s uncertain, though, whether any of those itineraries were rebooked after the budget passed.

AMHS has posted its proposed schedule for 2015-16 on its website ferryalaska.com for public review.

More information about Rainforest Islands Ferry Service can be found at rainforestislandsferry.com or by calling 907-329-2031.

 

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