I've read mentions of the 'inter-island' boat in the San Juans. Does one of the vessels there just service the islands, without going to Anacortes? And, if so, where is most of the traffic going, and for what purposes?
There has never been a dedicated inter island boat in our Gulf Islands; if there was, it would be sailing around empty most of the time.
Post by northwesterner on Sept 3, 2007 21:27:05 GMT -8
Thats right - one boat does not go to Anacortes.
Most of the traffic is going from Shaw/Orcas/Lopez to Friday Harbor for grocery shopping, doctor's appts, and other general business. They of course, return the same day.
Also, many delivery trucks (the milk man, Pepsi guy, etc) have to service all four islands on one "run" out there - so they come over on a mainliner, and then head to the next island on the next available ferry, often the interisland.
There is, indeed, just one dedicated vessel serving just the islands without going to Anacortes. It's usually one of the Steel Electric vessels such as the Illahee or Quinault, but the larger 87 vehicle Evergreen State has been operating the route this summer due to a lack of vessel availability with the Steel Electrics. I remember when the inter-island ferry idea first materialized sometime in the Eighties. Before the inter-island ferry, the vessels from Anacortes would make stops at all of the islands, and it was getting so there were perpetual backups and overloads due to reduced vehicle allotments because of the all-stops route. It became clear that mainland-bound traffic was going to have to be separated from inter-island traffic, and more importantly, Orcas and Friday Harbor were going to have to be separated. There was just too much Anacortes-bound traffic from each of those islands to continue the all-stops route structure. This led to the setup we have today which has vessels traveling from Anacortes to Lopez, Shaw, and ending at Orcas, OR Anacortes to Lopez and ending at Friday Harbor, with some non-stop sailings sprinkled in, but almost never a sailing that goes to all of the islands anymore with the exception of some late night sailings. If you look on WSF's schedule for the San Juan Islands, you'll see what I mean. As far as numbers go in terms of inter-island usage, I do know this route has the least traffic of all the WSF routes, but it does get used, and it is certainly not empty most of the time. I'm sure Barnacle or EvergreenFleet have better insight into how well the inter island ferry does in terms of numbers.