- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Those who had hoped to catch a ride on the Alaska ferry Columbia Tuesday should be able to depart sometime Friday.

The ferry was supposed to make stops in Sitka, Wrangell, Petersburg, Ketchikan and eventually Bellingham, Washington, but it never left port Tuesday.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesman Jeremy Woodrow called the three-day delay “unusual,” reported The Juneau Empire (https://bit.ly/1M9hZwE).

“Usually it’s just a few hours,” he said. “We’re a little more confident with (today’s departure).”

Woodrow said a technician is working to repair the starboard main engine. The faulty part was sent to Seattle for repairs and then mailed back.

“It’s not a small part - over 100 pounds is what I’m told,” he said.

Other Columbia trips to Sika and Skagway have been canceled to make up for the lost time. The stops in Sitka and Wrangell have also been canceled.

Woodrow said the passengers on the Columbia with state rooms won’t be charged for the additional days. The Alaska Marine Highway System is helping to provide meals.

But for Sheldon Green, a college professor from Canada, the food vouchers “don’t have sufficient value to cover the cost of a typical meal. It adds insult to injury.”

Green, who is on his way to Bellingham, said he might have to take additional vacation days if the ferry is delayed any longer. He has traveled the Alaska Marine Highway before and described past experiences as “smooth.”

Woodrow said staff will notify passengers of schedule changes by phone and email.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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