Ferry expected in Haines for 1st sailing in 7 weeks
March 5, 2020
On March 6, the Tazlina will arrive in Haines. It will be the first time Haines has had a ferry dock in roughly seven weeks.
The Alaska Department of Transportation said the vessel arrived in Juneau last week and is completing Coast Guard inspection drills including firefighting and abandon ship operations and launching and retrieving rescue boats. The department confirmed that the Tazlina will be up and running on schedule.
Although ferry service to Haines will remain sparse through March—twice a week on Fridays and Sundays—in April the number of weekly sailings will roughly double. The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) opened its summer sailing schedule for bookings on Monday. According to the calendar on the AMHS website, April through September, Haines will receive between four and five sailings a week.
The Matanuska, which broke down at the end of January, leaving the Alaska Marine Highway System without any functioning mainline ferries, “is expected to depart Juneau for Vigor Marine’s Ketchikan shipyard as soon as weather permits, sometime after Friday, March 6,” according to the Department of Transportation. Once the vessel reaches the shipyard, repairs will begin.
At present, the Matanuska is scheduled to return to service on June 2, according to the AMHS website. If this date is accurate, the vessel will have been out of service for just over four months by the time it returns.
Last week, the Department of Transportation announced an interim sailing schedule to fill in service gaps while its mainline ferries remain out of service. The department chartered Allen Marine vessels to provide passenger service on Saturday, Feb. 29 and Tuesday, March 3 between Juneau and Kake, Angoon and Tenakee Springs.
It is unclear what criteria the department used to craft the interim ferry schedule. Department spokesperson Sam Dapcevich did not respond to questions by press time.
Sen. Jesse Kiehl said he urged officials in Haines and Skagway to submit comments last week as the Department of Transportation was finalizing a schedule. Mayor Jan Hill said she reached out to the department and asked where Haines fit in the interim schedule. They said they were planning to prioritize a trip to smaller communities as sailings to Haines and Skagway were scheduled to resume on March 6, Hill said.
According to the AMHS website, Tenakee is not scheduled to receive another ferry until the LeConte comes back online in mid-May. Kake has a total of three Allen Marine sailings scheduled in March and then a gap in service until the LeConte returns. Angoon will start receiving service from the Tazlina every other week beginning on March 5.
During the seven weeks without ferry service, Haines received four charter visits from Allen Marine including a charter on Jan. 27 that the state provided to transport passengers between Haines, Skagway and Juneau; a charter spearheaded by the Haines and Skagway school districts on Feb. 16; and two borough-subsidized trips on Feb. 23 and 29. Interim passenger service was largely driven by the need to transport students to and from school sporting events.