UPDATE: Beached passenger ferry refloated, hauled out at Port Townsend
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Rich Passage 1 is shown in the slings of the Travelift at the Port Townsend Boat Yard this morning.
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Rich Passage 1 on the beach near Oak Bay Campground at Portage Creek canal Monday afternoon. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — A passenger ferry that ran aground Monday morning was freed early today after the high tide allowed it to be dislodged and taken to Port Townsend, authorities said.

There was no damage to the boat aside from scratched paint, said Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson, who was on the boat at the time.

The 77-passenger Rich Passage 1, owned by Kitsap Transit for commuter use between Bremerton and Seattle, went aground in the narrow Portage Creek canal separating Indian Island with Port Hadlock.

The boat was dislodged from the beach at about 6 a.m. and was towed to Port Townsend.

While there were no visible damage, the engines were not started in case rocks or other material had lodged into the mechanism, Clauson said.

Clauson said that the boat ran aground because of confusion about the buoys, which he said do not conform to standard maritime signals.

“In most cases the correct response to a buoy is ‘red go right,’ but in this case we were supposed to travel on the port side,” Clauson said.

Clauson said that the Coast Guard is investigating the incident.

The 78-foot-long catamaran was operating as a passenger ferry between Seattle and Bremerton on an experimental basis until last fall.

Clauson said the boat is equipped as a research vessel and had gathered data about the effect of its wake on the shore.

It was on its way to Port Townsend on a maintenance call where the data are to be downloaded and analyzed, Clauson said.

If the data show no significant environmental impact, Kitsap Transit will look into the possibility of placing Rich Passage 1 on the route permanently, Clauson said.

Clauson said he did not know how long the vessel will be in Port Townsend.

Last modified: January 29. 2013 11:22AM
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