There is some good news and some bad news for the Alaska Marine Highway’s Columbia ferry. The vessel is sailing again on a delayed schedule. But it will take a five-day reprieve for repairs at the end of July.
Thursday night, the Columbia was able to depart Petersburg, where it was stuck for a couple days due to an engine problem. Technicians from Houston who flew in to address the issue will stay on the vessel as it sails to Bellingham this weekend. The Columbia will make its way back up to the Lynn Canal before going to Ketchikan’s dry dock for repairs.
Instead of arriving on Monday, July 25, the Columbia will dock in Haines and Skagway Tuesday, July 26 — about a day and a half behind schedule.
On its way south, it will stop in Ketchikan for about five days for maintenance. DOT Spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says the ferry needs to be dry-docked because of an oil leak, not because of the engine troubles that stalled it in Petersburg.
Woodrow says the ferry system received a temporary permit from the Coast Guard to make next week’s sailing before receiving maintenance.
The Columbia is scheduled to be back on its regular route by Aug. 3. For Haines and Skagway, that means the sailing planned for Aug. 1 is cancelled. Woodrow says the ferry system is sending in the Fairweather as backup, partly because of demand from Southeast Alaska State Fair attendees.
Woodrow says people who were booked on the Aug. 1 Columbia and haven’t received a call from reservations staff should get in touch to get a spot on the Fairweather.