Why Haul-Out Over Memorial Day Weekend?

Why is the haul-out scheduled over Memorial Day weekend?

Since the March 4th announcement of the upcoming ferry haul-out, we've heard some questions about the timing. We hope this update provides clarification about the schedule. 

The 2021 Guemes Island Ferry haul-out will be Friday, May 14, through Saturday, June 12.

We understand that this is later in the year than past haul-outs, and will affect travel on the Memorial Day weekend. There were many factors to consider with this year’s ferry outage: U.S. Coast Guard mandated inspection schedules, shipyard schedules and availabilities, the pandemic, and passenger safety.

Coast Guard inspection and shipyard schedules

The mandated U.S. Coast Guard dry dock exam for the M/V Guemes was originally scheduled for March 31; the Ferry Division requested a 90-day extension due to COVID-19. This gives the Ferry Division until June 30 to complete the required dry-dock inspection.

Skagit County’s Call for Bids for the haul-out allowed bidders to propose dates between April 30 and July 1. Shipyards propose schedules based on their availability, and the county must choose the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder.

Nichol’s Brothers Boat Builders, in Freeland, WA, submitted the lowest, responsive, responsible bid. Their proposed start dates were May 14, May 26 (the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend) and May 31 (Memorial Day). With any of these options, the vessel would have been out of service for all, or part, of Memorial Day weekend.

The pandemic and passenger safety

Extending the haul-out into the warmer, drier weather means passengers can be outside on the passenger-only vessel and in waiting areas, and can more easily spread out and maintain physical distance from each other. It’s much harder to maintain the recommended distance during rainy weather, when passengers typically want to be under cover while waiting or in the cabin on the passenger boat.

We do not yet know what the pandemic situation will look like in May and June. We may need to reduce capacity on the passenger vessel; however, we will address this issue by making extra trips when necessary.

It has been more than two years since the M/V Guemes was last hauled out for maintenance – February and March of 2019. While the ferry system completed 99% of its scheduled runs in 2020, we need to maintain the vessel so it can continue to provide reliable service.

The bottom line: We know that any time we take the car ferry out of service, it’s an inconvenience. Our goal with this year’s haul out is to maintain our commitment to passenger safety. We are also committed to getting the car ferry back in service well in advance of the Fourth of July weekend.

- Rachel Rowe, Ferry Manager

Tags: ferry