2023 Guemes Ferry Haul-Out

How to Plan for the February 27 to March 19 Ferry Haul-out

When Is It?

The last ferry run before the haul-out will be at 8:00 p.m., Sunday, February 26. The haul-out is scheduled for February 27 through March 19. While the beginning date is certain, the end date can vary, depending on what maintenance and/or repair may be needed. Sometimes extra time is needed; rarely, a haul-out can finish early.

To receive email alerts and updates about the ferry, sign up at https://skagitcounty.net/Departments/Home/emailListmain.htm.

Further information can also be found at https://skagitcounty.net/ferry/haulout.

Passenger-Only Service

Arrow Launch will provide passenger-only service on the Strait Arrow, a 65-foot support vessel that can accommodate 49 passengers. The Strait Arrow will use the same loading docks as the Guemes ferry. In addition to an open deck, there is a cabin that can seat six rows of passengers and 40-plus people. The steps to the cabin are narrow and steep, and seating is not easily accessible for people with mobility difficulties.

In good weather, riding on the open deck can be a pleasant experience and provide time to chat with your friends and neighbors, whom you may not have seen for a while. In inclement weather, the ride can require caution when walking and carrying loads up and down the ramps and aprons. The ferry crew can be counted on to be watchful and offer assistance.

Bicycles and small motorcycles are allowed, at the discretion of the captain, along with well-behaved, leashed dogs. Horses are not allowed.

On-Island Shuttle Service

Skagit Transit will provide a passenger van that will operate daily from 7 to 11:45 a.m. and from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Shuttle service will begin the day before the outage and end the day after to allow islanders to get their vehicles moved. This is a by-request service to and from the ferry only, not from point to point on the island. Call at least one hour before the time you need to be picked up on the road nearest your house. Call (360) 757-4433, press #1, and ask for Guemes Dispatch. The fare is free for riders under 18, $1.00 for riders 19–64, and $0.50 for disabled riders and riders over 65. There are no transfers. See this link for more details.

Barge Services

Many islanders manage to park a vehicle in Anacortes and use other transportation on the island. If you have an unexpected need, San Juan Marine Freight & Services, now owned and operated by Captain Corey Joyce, can provide barge service for up to seven cars on the M/V San Juan Enterprise or eight cars on the M/V San Juan Charger. There is a six-car minimum charge for one-way service ($50 per car) and scheduling is as available. The preferred way to arrange service is to send a text to (360) 202-8611, or you can phone that same number if you can’t text. Joyce will provide 24-hour service, if needed.

San Juan Ferry & Barge inter-island commercial transport service allowed that if Joyce was booked, they might be able to accommodate bookings in afternoon hours on its two vessels. Call (360) 317-8486.

Other Services

Waste Management has made arrangements with San Juan Marine Freight & Services to provide regular garbage and recycling services to the island during the haul-out. Skagit Farmers Supply and Vanderyacht Propane will also use the barge service for regular propane filling.

For any newspapers still making home deliveries, newspaper service usually drops papers off in the shelter on the Guemes side, where you will need to pick them up yourself. Get there early; sometimes folks seem to think papers are suddenly a free service.

The U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver mail and packages, as will the other island package delivery services, UPS, FedEx Express, and FedEx Ground.

The Guemes Island Fire Department (GIFD) and Anacortes paramedics are prepared for emergencies. Call 911, as usual, for medical emergencies. If necessary, a patient will be delivered to the passenger ferry in the island ambulance, transported onboard on a gurney accompanied by GIFD personnel and Anacortes paramedics, and met by an Anacortes ambulance on the other side. Patients can also be airlifted from the island. After-hours medical calls will be handled in the usual way, requiring a special ferry run or an airlift flight. An emergency barge run is also available. In the event of an emergency, all participants will do everything possible to protect the patient’s privacy.

Plan Ahead

   The best way to prepare for the outage is to plan ahead.

  • Be thinking about your transportation options. Many islanders park a car on the Anacortes side and keep their “beater” car on the island, or use the shuttle. Others share a vehicle in Anacortes with friends and neighbors. Some discover their bicycles, and a few choose to travel elsewhere during the haul-out. This is a time when neighbors help neighbors.
  • Remember that parking limits are 72 hours in the ferry parking lots and on Anacortes streets, unless otherwise marked. Due to rising parking lot vandalism (on both sides of the channel), it is prudent to move your vehicle frequently and to not leave valuables in it. Avoid the “railroad” lower lot in Anacortes at night.
  • This might be a great time for an enterprising islander to become an Uber driver.
  • If you plan to park a car in Anacortes, do not wait until the last day before the haul-out to move it there. The last run will be at 8:00 p.m. on February 26. The lines get very long in the last days before the car ferry goes out, as people gather last-minute supplies and park cars.
  • Stock up on bulky and heavy items. Don’t forget pet, livestock, and garden supplies. If you plan on buying furniture, tires, heavy machinery, appliances, etc., make sure they will be delivered well before February 26.
  • Get your gravel, rock, and soil deliveries scheduled well before the haul-out and your tractors and equipment returned from their off-island maintenance trips.
  • Check that you have all your medical supplies stockpiled or planned for, especially oxygen. Schedule your medical appointments and procedures around the haul-out, if possible. If you have concerns about your treatment/appointments, talk to your healthcare team.
  • Replenish your fuel supplies ahead of time. Remember that it is illegal to transport gasoline in passenger vehicles or on the passenger ferry. Two five-gallon containers of gasoline can be transported in your open truck bed.
  • Keep in mind that all supplies that are transported on the passenger ferry must be carried by hand in wheelbarrows or your own carts. This includes all packages coming through delivery services. During the haul-out is not the time to order a mattress to come via FedEx Ground.
  • If a bevy of wheelbarrows starts collecting on the Guemes side, grab one to return on your way across the channel.
  • Give yourself extra time to find parking and to catch the ferry you need. Be sure to let school children load onto the ferry in front of you so they can catch their bus, and be patient with those who have mobility challenges.
  • Skagit County will have one golf cart at the Anacortes terminal so you can drop loads off there and ask a ferry staff member to follow you to find parking and bring you back, if the cart is available. If you need assistance getting from the terminal to your car upon disembarking from Guemes, you can also ask for a ride.
  • The Strait Arrow and ferry crews go out of their way to help passengers load and unload and keep us as safe and comfortable as possible.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Full-time islanders often sheepishly admit they enjoy the sense of community and camaraderie that comes from the pedestrian travel and the sense of adventure. We’re creeping out of pandemic isolation, so enjoy the ride. Besides, you’ll be earning island cred by surviving a haul-out: real island living. This is a short one, not 2011 (a 55-day outage)!


Editor’s note: Edith Walden is the former editor-in-chief and lead reporter of the Guemes Tide, which ceased publication in 2017.  Archives, maintained by the Guemes Island Community Center Association, of the Guemes Tide and its predecessor, the Evening Star, can be found at https://guemestide.org.