Wrangell Sentinel -

Good news for subscribers to the Wrangell Sentinel: Our new website features the paper's full contents and in available to all subscribers. You can purchase online-only subscriptions, too!

By Dan Rudy 

Rainforest Islands Ferry service underway after months of delay


Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

The Rainforest Islander makes its way into Reliance Harbor on Tuesday for a midday stop. Traveling between Wrangell, Petersburg and Coffman Cove, the small-scale service will improve inter-island access throughout the year.

On Friday a new inter-island ferry began making runs,

lowering its ramp in

Wrangell's Reliance Harbor that afternoon.

Rainforest Islands Ferry will be a three-stop service between Wrangell, Mitkof and Prince of Wales island, running four times each week from spring through autumn. During the winter it will run on a reduced schedule. Based in Coffman Cove, the service is managed by North End Ferry Authority (NEFA).

The ferry service makes use of a 65-foot repurposed landing craft, the Rainforest Islander, which had initially been slated for completion in late May.

"We started to deliver the boat in early July," explained NEFA manager Kent Miller. However, it returned to La Conner, Wash., for electrical and mechanical repairs, which delayed its delivery until mid-August. Passing Coast Guard inspection in Ketchikan soon afterward, the Islander was ready for service last week.

The ferry will be a low-cost alternative to chartering for inter-island travelers and allows vehicles to be transported.

Between Wrangell and Petersburg's Banana Point, for example, a single adult ticket might cost $25. Seniors aged 60 and older and juniors aged 12 to 17 can ride for $20, and tickets for kids aged 6 to 11 cost $15. Children aged 5 and under ride free.

Similarly, Wrangell-Coffman rates range between $20 and $40, and the trip from Coffman to Petersburg costs from $25 to $45. Round-trip tickets are also available.

Vehicles are classed by length, and can be ferried for between $40 and $140 or more if they exceed 21 feet. Other objects can also be conveyed, from baggage and bicycles to kayaks and motorcycles.

Space on the Rainforest Islander is limited to six vehicles and around 28 passengers.

"They really need to book in advance," Miller explained. People can book passage, and also look up schedules and

rates at http://www.rainforestislandsferry.com.

The vessel and route will also be subject to Southeast's sometimes rambunctious weather. Wind speeds of 40 knots and above would cause safety concerns, and so may cause cancelations. Rough water would also be a concern.

"It had to scratch on Sunday because of the high winds," Miller said. "That shouldn't occur too often, but it may happen a dozen times a year."

Updated information on cancelations and schedule changes would be found primarily on the service's main webpage.

The service has had to adapt in other ways since it was first announced in April. Rather than landing at Shoemaker Bay Harbor, Miller explained the ferry will make its stops closer to town.

"The only launch ramp available to us now is the old launch ramp at the inner harbor in front of the power house," he said. Because of this, a planned shuttle service on Wrangell may no longer be necessary.

Shuttle service will still be maintained as planned on Prince of Wales and Mitkoff islands, however. The services there will take advantage of newly paved highways connecting the ports of Coffman Cove and South Mitkof to their nearby communities. Ford Transit passenger wagons will drive local loops to convey people into or from town there, connecting with Craig, Hollis and Petersburg.

During its on-season months, the service will land weekly in Wrangell on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Landing and departure times will vary depending on the tides, but the ferry is due to arrive from Coffman Cove at midday, leaving half an hour later for Banana Point. Southbound, the ferry will arrive again from Mitkof at 3:23 p.m. and leave for Prince of Wales by 4:15.


Reader Comments


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018