FERNDALE, Wash. — Whatcom County Public Works Ferry Division officials announced the dates for this year’s annual drydock maintenance of the Whatcom Chief. The Whatcom Chief will be removed from service starting the morning of Saturday, September 12th and is expected to return, barring any surprises, the evening of Saturday, October 3rd.
While the Whatcom Chief is out of service, a passenger-only ferry is brought in to take its place and a shuttle van run on the island since many passengers leave their vehicles parked at Gooseberry Point, the mainland side of the ferry run.
This year’s drydock service interruption will be much like years prior except riding on the passenger-only ferry and shuttle van present physical distancing and other health safety challenges during the COVD-19 pandemic.
Ferry Division officials have prepared a draft operating policy for the passenger-only ferry and shuttle van to address Washington state and Whatcom County Health Department physical distancing and face mask mandates and other health safety concerns.
Policies set forth in the draft document include:
- All passengers are required to wear face coverings at the terminal areas, on the ferry and in the shuttle van. If you do not have mask, one will be provided.
- Clear vinyl barriers will be in place between booth seating areas on the ferry and seating rows on the shuttle van.
- The ferry will be limited to carrying 33 passengers per run and the shuttle van will be limited to 12, including those traveling in household groups.
- Ferry officials will be promoting “stay-at-home, essential travel only” messaging.
- There will be an additional deck hand to clean the ferry between runs. Shuttle vans will also be regularly cleaned.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be available on the ferry.
Ferry Division officials are accepting public comment on the draft policy until 5pm on Friday, August 28th. Click here to read the complete draft policy and click here to fill out and submit a comment form.