ROCKLAND, Maine — The new $9.4 million ferry to serve Vinalhaven will not start serving the island until the middle of next week.
The ferry arrived in Rockland at the Maine State Ferry Service terminal on March 23 and was expected to begin making regular runs to Vinalhaven by the first week of April.
Ferry Service Manager James MacLeod said Thursday that temporary repairs need to be made to the fender panels at the Vinalhaven dock before the new 154-foot ferry E. Frank Thompson can be used for the island.
MacLeod said that the repairs are being done by the ferry service crews and should be done by the middle of next week and that then the new ferry will go into operation.
The Thompson is much taller than the current ferry — the 1968-built Governor Curtis. The fender panels need to be adjusted so they will conform to the height of the new ferry. Otherwise, MacLeod said, there would be a risk of windows being broken in the cabin when the ferry docks.
Permanent repairs to the fender system will be done later, he said.
The only other adjustment that needs to be made to accommodate the new ferry, the manager said, is that large pickup trucks and larger trucks that use the ferry will have to push in their side mirrors in order to fit into the three traffic lanes on the vessel. He said regular-size vehicles will have no problems.
The E. Frank Thompson is the first new ferry in 19 years for the state ferry service.
Construction took two years and three months at C&G Boatworks in Mobile, Ala.
The E. Frank Thompson can carry 22 motor vehicles and 250 passengers.
For information and a complete schedule of ferry runs, visit the Maine State Ferry Service website at http://www.maine.gov/mdot/msfs/.