Lummi Island – Fairhaven Route

UPDATE May 17,2016:  Nancy Ging, LIFAC member, clarified the origins of this draft document on NextDoor Lummi Island (private site). The draft report is not part of LIFAC-County current long-range planning for any future changes to the ferry system. (re-posted with her permission).

There is NO Fairhaven proposal currently under discussion, or even hinted. This report, initiated at the request of a County Councilmember, is intended only to summarize some of the major obstacles encountered by the County, LIFAC, and other citizen groups in the past when the recurring idea of a Fairhaven route was fully explored and rejected. It is not intended to be comprehensive or complete. The report is in draft form and is being submitted for public input, which will be attached to the report before storing it in the archives at the Library.”

Original post May 14, 2016. The Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) has produced a detailed draft report on the feasibility of docking at Fairhaven (DRAFT–Ferry Service Lummi Island to Fairhaven, April 30, 2016). Chuck Antholt, who researched and authored the report, presented it at the May 3, 2016 meeting. The report makes two key assumptions: 1) use of the Whatcom Chief; and 2) no restrictions on docking at Fairhaven (unlikely, given recent input from the Port of Bellingham).  LIFAC requests citizen input on the report (written preferred) at or before their June 7 meeting (email: or comment at the meeting).


2 thoughts on “Lummi Island – Fairhaven Route

  1. What is the reason that “given the plans of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) the Port of Bellingham would limit Lummi Island ferry use of Fairhaven to once a day”? It seems the basis for the premise that the Fairhaven option should be dismissed out of hand is not given. How would the BNSF effect ferry travel? Are they afraid that a train would block the loading process? The Alaska ferry has worked out a solution, and has plenty of unused queue space on every day except Friday. Was there no attempt to find a workaround?

    “Weather: Most of our relatively high winds come from the south, southeast.” “Given relatively shallow draft and the relatively broad beam of the Chief, the Chief could expect considerable rolling.“ “Wave size is in part a function of “fetch.” Precisely why the Fairhaven route is better during high winds. The fetch from the south, southeast at our current crossing is 12 nm up Hale Passage to Samish Bay. Running head into the wind to Eliza Island and then turning beam to the seas would reduce the fetch to 7 nm on the transit to Fairhaven.

    “Shallowness of Bellingham bay: This would result in shorter steeper waves in a blow.” Yes, if we were docking at the north end of the bay, but we wouldn’t be. The current ferry crossing is mostly at about 48 feet deep. On the transit to Fairhaven, after the turn at Eliza Island, then going through Bellingham Bay, the depth is from 174 feet to 84 feet. Much deeper, and with less fetch. It seems the most dangerous crossing in high south, southeast winds is at our current crossing.

    Round trip ferry times:
    56 minutes x 2 = 112 minutes add 10 minutes for loading/unloading = 122 minutes ~2 hours, not 3 hours.
    (crew breaks would be during the longer transits, just like on Washington State ferries)

    Sailing from Lummi: 5:00, 7:20, 9:40, 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:00, 9:20, 11:40
    Sailing from Fairhaven: 6:10, 8:30, 10:50, 1:10, 3:30, 5:50, 8:10, 10:30, 12:50

    What is this:
    “c. Implied LOS with the following formulae: Assuming 20 cars each way total car traffic would be ~ 280 at the max, i.e., assuming no truck traffic. LOS = ((8 x 20) + (107 x 365)) x 2 = 40 991” What is LOS? What are these calculations and numbers referring to?

    Everyone understands that the Fairhaven option makes most sense if a new ferry is in the picture, which will of course be bigger and could handle the same daily movement of cars with fewer sailings.

    Why would a longshoreman be needed at Fairhaven when one is not needed at Gooseberry? Are they needed for the tourist ferries that leave from Fairhaven? Are they needed on Shaw island as nuns?

    The port fees at Fairhaven would be more than offset by the cost savings from not using Gooseberry Point.

    The school kids would NOT continue to go to Ferndale schools, they would go to the most logical place, Fairhaven and Bellingham.

    This “report” seems very biased. I hope it is not being taken as official LIFAC doctrine.

    In general, I, for one, would be quite content to make it MORE difficult to increase the population and tourist traffic on the island. Of course, others are happy to make it easier for the hordes to arrive and leave at will.

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