LeConte to return this week; Pelican suffers service loss

Because of ferry's delay, community has been without service since Dec. 2

Posted: Monday, December 26, 2005

Pelican, which has been without ferry service for most the month, received good news from the state ferry system just before Christmas.

The state ferry vessel LeConte is set to return to its regular route in early January when repairs are finished, and it will add a stop in Pelican to its schedule.

The repair work is expected to be finished today with the vessel sailing for Bellingham, Wash., on Tuesday. After receiving Coast Guard certification, provisioning and refueling, the LeConte will sail from Bellingham by Friday morning, said Capt. John Falvey, Alaska Marine Highway System general manager, in a statement.

The LeConte will resume its schedule and stop in Pelican on Jan. 6.

Because of the LeConte's delay, Pelican has been without service from the state ferry system since Dec. 2. The vessel was scheduled to make two more stops this month.

"We are a distressed community economically and some of us cannot afford to travel without the ferry," Pelican Mayor Patty Phillips said.

During this season, residents make trips to Juneau for holiday shopping and bring back presents and supplies to Pelican, Phillips said.

"Obviously, it's an inconvenience," she said.

Victo Stepanenko, owner of the town's Lisianski Inlet Cafe, said people typically plan holiday travel around the ferry schedule. Fewer friends and family of Pelican residents will come to the city this year because of the delay, he said.

Pelican was supposed to get relief from another vessel, but weather held it up.

"We had contracted for replacement service to Pelican with the 'Lite Weight,' a privately-operated landing craft, for Dec. 20," Falvey said.

"Unfortunately, stormy weather prevented that sailing. So, Pelican will be more than ready for the LeConte to return to their community."

The LeConte was undergoing repairs to its propulsion shafts in Seattle.

"Essentially, the problem has been with the fittings for the couplings on the shafts being worn," Falvey said.

The ship was first delayed in Sitka on Dec. 5 when it encountered problems with the shafts.

The marine vessel Taku is substituting for the LeConte's stops in Kake and Hoonah.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at andrew.petty@juneauempire.com



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