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Crab pots to blame for more damage to Salish ferry

Washington State Ferries has a plea to boaters after new pictures reveal more damage to the Salish ferry. Officials said crab pots are to blame. (Photo: KOMO News)

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. - Washington State Ferries has a plea to boaters after new pictures reveal more damage to the Salish ferry. Officials said crab pots are to blame.

The discovery comes just days before one of the busiest weekends of summer at the Port Townsend Terminal.

Ferry officials said crab pots and crab pot lines created a tangled mess wrapped up in the propellers of the Salish.

Officials said because of the lines, the ferry will be out of service for repairs, for a while.

“It’s frustrating for our crews who are out here working really hard and we’re running these vessels incredibly hard as well,” Ian Sterling with Washington State Ferries said. “Most of these vessels, we’re running 22 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Divers discovered the lines while trying to fix a rudder issue after the ferry was pushed into a sand bar at Keystone Harbor this week.

“Unfortunately, as divers took a closer look, they found all kinds of crab pots and crab pot lines wrapped up in the propeller shaft,” Sterling said. “That is actually a much bigger problem for us, and we weren’t able to get out, and test the rudder and get that fixed. Now we’re in a situation where we have to get the boat out of the water and get it fixed.”

The timing is not ideal.

Officials said historically traffic spikes 11 percent on the Port Townsend/ Coupeville route this coming weekend.

“This is not a good time to have any of our vessels out of service, we don’t have a deep bench,” said Sterling.

For this weekend the plan is to move a ferry running the Point Defiance/ Tahlequah route to work the Port Townsend/Coupeville route.

Another ferry from the north end of Vashon Island will be moved down to serve Point Defiance.

The change goes through Sunday.

While the Salish is undergoing repairs, officials are reminding boaters to keep pots away from docks and terminals.

Officials said they’re not sure when this boat will be back in service.

They need to find dry dock space, which they say, is scarce in Puget Sound.

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