4 Week Dry Dock for 2017

For those who think the Lummi Island ferry’s annual dry dock in September is a pain: imagine a 4 week dry dock from February 28 to (they hope) March 29. That’s what Guemes Island residents are facing in 2017, according to this Feb 9 press release about the Guemes ferry’s 4-week dry dock. At least they have better mainland parking and place to wait out of the rain.


Feb. 9, 2017

Contact: Rachel Rowe, rrowe@co.skagit.wa.us, 360-416-1400

Guemes Ferry out of service from Feb. 28 through March 28

Annual maintenance will take the Guemes Island passenger and vehicle ferry out of service for nearly a month, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 28. The vessel is expected to return to service by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 29.

During the haul-out, passenger-only ferry service, provided by Arrow Launch Services aboard the vessel Strait Arrow, will connect Guemes Island to Anacortes. Passenger-only service will start at 1 p.m. Feb. 28, and will run on the non-peak sailing schedule: 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The schedule is also available online at http://www.skagitcounty.net/ferry.

“We understand that taking the vehicle ferry out of service is a big inconvenience for our islanders, riders and neighboring residents,” said Capt. Rachel Rowe, Skagit County Ferry Operations Division Manager. “Doing maintenance now allows us to keep the ferry running during our busy spring and summer months. Our hope is to complete work as soon as possible and get the vessel back to normal service.”

The Strait Arrow can accommodate 49 passengers and bicycles. Small motorbikes or electric scooters are allowed at the discretion of the captain. Extreme weather conditions, including high winds and low tides, may affect the service.

Skagit Transit will provide on-call shuttle service on Guemes Island for a small fee during the ferry haul-out. Residents can call 360-757-4433, and then press 1 to be connected with a dispatcher. The shuttle will run between the ferry dock and residents’ homes. It will operate daily, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Saturday; 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit http://www.skagittransit.org.

Skagit County typically removes the Guemes Ferry from service once a year for maintenance work and repairs. Maintenance work on the ferry is being completed by Foss Shipyard in Seattle.

Find more information about the Guemes Ferry online at http://www.skagitcounty.net/ferry. For questions or more details, please contact Rachel Rowe at 360-416-1400 or rrowe@co.skagit.wa.us.


Like Whatcom County, Skagit County is working on replacing it’s old ferry. They are hoping for a less-polluting electric ferry. Here’s more information on their planning process.

Lummi Island 2016 Dry Dock Survey Due January 31, 2017

Remember the September 2016 dry dock, when 3 weeks of maintenance was done on the Lummi Island/Whatcom County ferry system (Whatcom Chief and docks)?  Now’s the time to give your input via the dry dock survey developed by PLIC (Protect Lummi Island Community).  Now is the time to do this, as Public Works is already planning for dry dock 2017.

Beth Louis, president of PLIC, sent out this reminder, aided by Paul’s Brown Betty alert service (note that paper surveys also are available):

Please remember to complete a Dry Dock questionnaire to help improve 2017 Dry Dock planning.  The questionnaire can be found on Survey Monkey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V75BV79  or in hard copy at the Post Office and Islander Store.  Questionnaires are due by January 31st. Responses will be summarized and submitted to LIFAC along with suggestions for improvement in March.

Kind regards,
Beth Louis

The survey is direct, short, asks good questions and includes room for open-ended comments. It’s not anonymous, which is absolutely correct as non-anonymity prevents duplicate entries that would totally wreck the validity and utility of the data. It also requires each person surveyed to take responsibility for their opinions rather than hiding behind a mask.

Progress on Updating Lummi Island Ferry System: Level of Service

On Tuesday January 3, 2017, the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) will review the latest draft of their proposal to update the ferry ‘level of service’ (LOS) definition at their meeting at the Lummi Island Fire Hall (6:30-7:50 PM).  2017-01-03-lifac-agenda-and-draft-los-proposal.  The public is invited to provide input on the draft proposal during the comment period at the start of the meeting (3 minute limit per person), in writing including  email, and at the Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC) annual meeting on January 17, 2017 at the Beach School auditorium.

After public input, LIFAC will finalize and vote on the LOS proposal. That proposal will then be presented to the County Council for consideration at the earliest possible date. This is the crucial next step in moving forward with plans to update the Lummi Island ferry system, including a new ferry, dock modifications (probably replacement) and ferry terminal improvements (e.g., parking).  The step after that will be to request funding from the Council for the detailed work, including financial estimates, needed to form a feasible action plan.Read More »

Public Works Letter re: New ‘Safety’ Road Signs

At least this letter from Public Works’ Doug Burghart ‘explains’ things, though some may think the explanation is rather lame given the incredibly large number of new large signs around recently placed on Lummi Island, including at places there’ve been safety signs for years (e.g., warning at the top of Centerview about the sharp curve to Tuttle Lane).  This ‘one size fits all’ approach to signs, some of which obviously are better suited to cars traveling 50+ mph than the island’s meager size (less than 2 mi wide, about 9 mi long including Lummi Mountain) and 25 mph limits is definitely less than satisfactory to many islanders, myself included.

This letter has been distributed electronically via Paul Davis’ Brown Betty email service and it’s been (or will be) posted  on Nextdoor Lummi Island (NDLI). I’m re-posting the letter here because the Ferry Forum has better search and storage functions than NDLI or your email inbox.

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Doug Burghart <DBurghar@co.whatcom.wa.us>
Date: Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 2:54 PM
Subject: Lummi Island Community Outreach–Roadway Signs
To: “lummitome@gmail.com” <lummitome@gmail.com>, “4maryross@gmail.com” <4maryross@gmail.com>
Cc: Jim Karcher <JKarcher@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Joe Rutan <JRutan@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Jon Hutchings <JHutchin@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Jack Louws <JLouws@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Council <Council@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Lummi Island Residents,


As many of you are aware, Whatcom County Public Works has recently been installing new roadway signs on Lummi Island.   This is part of a County-wide, Federally-funded program to decrease run-off-the- road accidents.


In 2013-2014, Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW) completed the first phase of this program by installing over 35 miles of shoulder and centerline rumble strips as well as nearly $400,000 in beam guardrail installations across Whatcom County.  The second phase of the program, currently underway, will install over 21 miles of shoulder rumble strips as well as over 800 curve warning signs at nearly 300 locations County-wide.


These curve warning signs are required by the new standards in the federally mandated “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD).   It should be noted that WCPW was given a grace period to comply with the new requirements, and by obtaining this Federal grant, we are able to come into compliance as well as make all the County’s roadway warning signs uniform.


During the preliminary engineering phase, WCPW engineers, surveyors, and technicians reviewed existing roadway geometrics to identify the nearly 300 sites throughout Whatcom County that were deficient in terms of horizontal alignment signage.   Fourteen (14) of these sites are located on Lummi Island.


In determining exact sign placement for the various sites, WCPW did their best to accommodate the needs of individuals, although this has proved to be challenging due to the vast number of sites.  We are continuing to address concerns with individual sites as they come up, the primary one on Lummi Island being the signs at the Beach Store Café.  There may be options available to achieve the aesthetic concerns of individual property owners; however, this safety obligation must be met.


In hindsight, WCPW realizes that Lummi Island residents would have benefitted from this information being provided to the Tome prior to the beginning of this work.   This has been a very long duration and wide ranging project across the County and we appreciate the public’s understanding and patience.  For additional information please contact Doug Burghart, Project Engineer at 360-778-6277.

Rash of new ‘safety’ road signs on Lummi Island

In the past few weeks, an astonishing number of new road signs have been installed on Lummi Island, with no warning and in some cases of dubious safety value. For example, one resident counted 32 signs on a one-mile stretch of Granger Way, which seems total overkill. Two days ago I wrote Public Works very calmly asking for some explanation of the plethora of new road signs on Lummi Island and requested some communication with islanders about this sudden rash of new signs.

Another new sign popped up yesterday, prompting me to email Public Works today, asking them to please stop adding new signs until they talk with islanders. Here’s what I wrote:

Yesterday this new sign taken by an island resident appeared opposite the Beach Store Cafe, on North Nugent Road. He was sitting at one of the cafe’s deck tables.mt-baker-sign-beach-store-lummi-island

Hmmm… does mean N. Nugent starts running one-way heading south & one-way north right at this point? To say it’s confusing is an understatement. The blind curve just past the cafe is dangerous, but this sign fails to warn about that hazard. It does not improve road safety in any way I can understand, and I drive this road daily. Update: Looking more closely, I see the 2 arrows are at a bit of an angle. I need to drive by, both ways, and take a look. Doesn’t resolve the blocking the view problem, though.

The sign also blocks the view of Mt Baker from the Beach Cafe. Blocking the viewshed with such a confusing sign is not good. Lummi Island residents and our many tourists value our views, and property owners pay property taxes that are based on the views the tax assessor says we have. Will Public Works ensure that we get tax rebates when PW chooses to wreck those views by unsightly (not to mention confusing) road ‘safety’ signs?

Could you please, please, please stop putting up new road signs until you have contacted islanders explained what the heck is going on and gotten our input on them? I imagine that the The Community Association or PLIC could help organize a meeting. Or the Church. Or the Civic Club. Or the Grange. Heck, I’d  even be willing to personally pay for time at the Grange for a public meeting to discuss this.

Wynne Lee
Lummi Island, WA

Lummi Island Fire District – Ferry Communications

Lummi Island medical or fire emergencies can require sudden use of the ferry for transport. That doesn’t happen by magic. Rather, it has required well-planned and continually supported radio links between two county agencies, the Whacom County Fire District 11 (WCFD11, Lummi island) and Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW ferry operations).

In 2011, District 11 Fire Department (Duncan McLane, Chief and elected Fire Commissioners Bob Busch, Ed Scott & Wendell Terry) purchased and arranged for the installation of compatible communications equipment needed for these essential communications. This was done by a formal agreement between Fire District 11 and Public works  (alternative link here). Initial funding was provided by a grant obtained by the Fire District. Presumably on-going maintenance of this system is funded by Fire District property taxes paid by Lummi Island property owners. Effective operation is made possible by the fact that some ferry crew members are also volunteers in the Fire Department.

Positive interactions like this between two of Whatcom County’s government agencies are essential to handling emergencies effectively for the isolated Lummi Island community.

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: lummiferry@googlegroup.com or comment at the meeting).