Bad Weather Hinders State Ferry Operations

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

High winds and low temperatures are interfering with state ferry operations in Southeast, Prince William Sound and Southwest Alaska.

The ferry Aurora had to cancel its Lynn Canal sailing Sunday due to storm-force winds, high seas and freezing spray.

Marine highway operations manager Captain Tony Karvelas says ice deposited on the small ferry makes it top-heavy.

“The ship has a center of gravity and when the ice attaches to the hull it raises that center of gravity,” Karvelas said. “And the ship gets more tippy and it has a chance of rolling over if you exceed the stability characteristics of the ship.”

He says the Aurora will resume sailing from Juneau to Haines and Skagway as soon as the weather permits. Ticket-holders should check online or with their ferry terminal for details.

Lynn Canal sailings were scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Other Aurora routes were not affected.

Meanwhile, high winds limited the Chenega’s Prince William Sound sailings over the weekend. The fast ferry remained tied up Saturday and skipped Valdez on Sunday.

“We have very strict rules that we have to run those ships by because they’re light, they’re made out of aluminum,” Karvelas said. “So we have to keep a constant eye on the weather.”

Karvelas says the Chenega is expected to resume its scheduled Cordova-Valdez-Whittier sailings on Thursday.

The large ferry Tustumena also had to cancel Saturday and Sunday sailings due to heavy weather. It was back on schedule Monday, leaving Kodiak for Port Lions.

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