June 10 - Weekly M/V Guemes haul-out progress update

This is the last week of the ferry haul-out at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland. Most of the outstanding work items will be completed by the end of the week. The most critical items this week were the car deck paint, the bottom paint, and the installation of the No. 1 outdrive. That work is all complete; however, the outdrive was two days late arriving back at the shipyard after the overhaul. That impacted the installation schedule, but crews are now working overtime to deliver the ferry on-time.  

As of today, June 10, the car ferry is scheduled to return to service on time, on Sunday, June 13 at 8:00 a.m. We have yet to fire up all of the machinery and do dock/sea trials. We are estimating trials to take place on Saturday, June 12. If we have an issue during trials, vessel delivery could be delayed; therefore, will keep you posted.  


June 5 - Weekly M/V Guemes haul-out progress update

It is the end of the third week of the ferry haul-out at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland. This week, preparation (cleaning, track blasting, and priming) for recoating the car deck was the main priority. Most of the car deck now has primer and is ready for the nonskid top coat. The propellers were re-conditioned, the fuel system was cleaned and inspected, the No. 2 end driveline was replaced, and the No. 2 outdrive was installed and filled with gear oil. The No. 1 end outdrive has been out for overhaul at Pacific Star Marine and is due back at the shipyard on Monday, June 7. 

With only one week left, it will be a push to complete the project on schedule. We will post another update mid-week next week. As a reminder, the haul-out is scheduled through June 12; the car ferry is still scheduled to return to service on Sunday, June 13.


May 29 - Weekly M/V Guemes haul-out progress update

We are exactly two weeks in to the ferry haul-out project at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland. This week, magnetic particle testing of both oudrive brackets was completed (fortunately, no cracks were found), the No. 1 main engine and transmission were replaced, and preparation (cleaning, track blasting, and priming) for recoating the car deck began. Early in the week, a fairly significant crack in a weld on the No. 2 end rub rail was discovered as well as cracked welds in the end frames below. Both of those areas have been repaired. 

On Thursday, May 27, we had our U.S. Coast Guard inspection, after which they issued an updated Certificate of Inspection reflecting this dry dock credit. Next week, there is a lot of work to be done if we are to stay on schedule, and it will be all about painting. The void spaces, hull, and freeboard areas still need to be prepared for painting, and there are several areas of touch-up painting to be done on the engine houses, main house, bulwarks, and railings. 


May 21 - Weekly M/V Guemes haul-out progress update

We are wrapping up the first week of the ferry haul-out at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, and work is progressing on schedule. On Saturday, May 15, at low tide, the vessel was hauled out of the water. The shipyard is located entirely on land; therefore, the ferry was loaded on to a crawler, hauled across the beach and the road in to the facility. This week, the hull was washed, zinc anodes were removed, all fluids were drained, voids and tanks were drained and cleaned and the propellers and drivelines were removed. Both outdrives were also removed and shipped to British Columbia for overhaul. Next week, the No. 1 main engine and transmission will be replaced, and preparation for painting will begin.

May 14 - M/V Guemes departed Anacortes ferry dock this morning for Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, WA

Thanks to Dunlap Towing Company, the M/V Guemes is currently on her way to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, WA. For the next 28 days, major maintenance work will be done on the ferry. We'll keep this site updated with progress updates and photos during the haul-out. 

Photo credit from left to right: Captain Rachel Rowe & Captain Kyle Saum


Guemes Island Ferry passenger-only service underway

Passenger-only service, aboard the Strait Arrow, started this morning, Friday, May 14, at 8:30 a.m. Please review the following information:

  • Face masks are required at our terminals, in our parking lots, waiting areas and at all times when you are on the Strait Arrow. Federal and Coast Guard requirements for public transit have not changed even if you are fully vaccinated. See the Q&A section below.

  • Due to capacity-related concerns, we have implemented a boarding pass system in Anacortes. Every rider will be given a boarding pass. Please hang on to these passes; they will be collected by a ferry crewmember before you board the boat. 

  • We do not have terminal staff on the Guemes Island side; therefore, please line up as best you can and be courteous to others waiting for the ferry. We will do our best to accommodate extra runs for overloads. 

  • On weekdays, except Wednesdays, school children have priority boarding on the 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. sailings to Anacortes and the 3:15 and 4:00 p.m. sailings to Guemes Island. 

  • Animals are allowed on the Strait Arrow provided that they are on a leash or in a crate. Animals are not allowed in the passenger cabin. Horses are not allowed at any time. 

  • Motorcycles and bicycles are allowed on the Strait Arrow on a space available basis at the discretion of the Captain.


Q&A - Why do I still have to wear my face mask even if I have been fully vaccinated?

The federal government, U.S. Coast Guard and CDC require the wearing of face masks while on conveyances (e.g. airplanes, ships, ferries, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) and at transportation hubs. Therefore, the federal mask order will be strictly enforced while the Strait Arrow is in service. WA State's recent changes to mask mandates are not applicable on public transportation, even for those who are fully vaccinated. See MSIB-02-21-CH1.pdf (uscg.mil) for more information. 

May 7 - Reminder - Guemes Island Ferry haul-out starts Friday, May 14, at 8:00 a.m.

On Friday, May 14, at 8:00 a.m., the vehicle ferry will go out of service for dry dock at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, WA until Sunday June 13. In order to get the Anacortes and Guemes Island terminals ready for passenger-only service, the vehicle ferry will operate for the 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. sailings before going out of service. We will have County trucks and crews on some of these runs to make preparations for the outage. However, we can take vehicles and passengers as well. Our vessel crew also needs time to ready the vessel for transit to the shipyard; this could take up to one hour. It is safe to assume that passenger-only service will begin around 9:15 a.m. We will do our best to get up and running as quickly as possible. 

Passenger-only service to accomodate up to 40 passengers per trip

The passenger-only vessel, Strait Arrow, can accomodate up to 40 passengers per trip. The federal mask mandate currently in effect will be strictly enforced. Adjustments to capacity may be needed depending on several factors including the COVID-19 pandemic and how much cargo needs to be hauled on any given run. We can also make extra trips as needed if we leave riders on either side or for mail/package delivery services.

In order to get where you need to go on time, we strongly recommend arriving at the terminal at least 30 minutes before you desired sailing. And, please remember to allow extra time to find parking. If you have concerns or need accomodations, please call our terminal in advance at (360) 293-6433.

Mar. 12 - Why is the ferry haul out scheduled over Memorial Day weekend?

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

Coast Guard inspection schedules 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.

Nichols 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. 

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. 


Mar. 4 - Guemes Island Ferry haul-out will be May 14 through June 12, 2021

The next scheduled haul-out of the Guemes Island Ferry will be May 14 through June 12, 2021. During this time, passenger-only service will be provided by Arrow Launch Service, and shuttle service will be provided by Skagit Transit. Be advised the car ferry will be out of service over Memorial Day weekend, so please plan accordingly. More details will be released soon.

The low bid of $742,713 was submitted by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, in Freeland, WA. For more inforamtion about the project and to view bid results, please visit www.skagitcounty.net/rfp. The schedule, proposed by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, was chosen as the best time for the haul-out even though it includes a holiday weekend. Better weather in May and June means passengers won't be stuck inside waiting for the ferry and the passenger boat. Passenger safety and COVID-19 were the most important factors in scheduling. We also want to get the car ferry out of service and back on the route well in advance of the holiday weekend.

Due to COVID-19, Skagit County requested a 90-day extension for the dry dock credit inspection normally due March 31, 2021. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has granted that extension, subject to an internal structural examination that will take place on Monday, March 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Dakota Creek Shipyard. On Monday, March 22, after the 9:45 a.m. run, the car ferry will transition to the shipyard for the required inspection. Passenger-only service will be provided for the 10:15 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11:15 a.m., and 1:00 p.m. sailings. If everything goes smoothly, the car ferry will return to service at 1:30 p.m.

The last haul-out of the ferry was completed March 22, 2019. In 2020, the ferry system completed 99% of its scheduled runs. It is time for us to take the ferry out of service and conduct important maintenance activities so that we can continue to provide reliable service.

To sign up for ferry alerts, visit www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/Home/emailListmain.htm and subscribe to the "Guemes Island Ferry" list.