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HomeNewsArchivesWHARF REPAIRS IMPACTING FAST FERRY OPERATIONS

WHARF REPAIRS IMPACTING FAST FERRY OPERATIONS

Oct. 8, 2002 – As repairs to the Gallows Bay wharf proceed, one of the territory's two fast ferry services may soon be compelled to set a new itinerary away from St. Croix temporarily, while the V.I. government has assured another that its Christiansted site will be available when it returns to the territory next month.
Mermaid Fast Ferries owner Chris Elliott said that in six to eight weeks his Calypso I will be displaced from its dock for about two months because of construction. Although the Port Authority has been "working very hard to accommodate" the company, there has been little progress in finding an alternative to Gallows Bay, he said.
Meanwhile, V.I. Fast Ferries, a subsidiary of Boston Harbor Cruises, will return in November for its second winter season, according to Kevin Matthews, director of operations.
Matthews said his company has been working closely with VIPA's executive director, Gordon Finch, and Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards to facilitate the ferry's return.
However, Matthews said Gallows Bay is the only viable docking site for the Salacia, a 600-passenger, high-speed ferry, and the company's engineering division is hammering out a plan with VIPA to set up a temporary venue — at Fast Ferries expense.
"The only option for that boat on St. Croix is Gallows Bay, period," Matthews said. "If we don't go there, we don't go anywhere."
Elliott said the Calypso I could relocate during the construction period to another island but would not specify any under consideration. "We would definitely try everything before we did leave and do everything we could to stay here," he said.
Both operators said the dock in Frederiksted is no solution.
Matthews said his company has already sold group tours from the states and Denmark seats aboard the Salacia this winter: "We mentioned Frederiksted or any other place, and they said 'absolutely not,'" he said.
"We have been assured time and time again" that Gallows Bay "would be available, at our expense, to put in some kind of temporary docking," Matthews said.
Elliott said docking in Frederiksted would not boost business for his 135-foot, 370-passenger catamaran. "It would be logistically tough for us right now," he said. "Our ridership is telling us that we need to stay in Christiansted."
Mermaid Fast Ferries, which began service on Sept. 2, has yet to break even but has been moving toward that goal in recent weeks, Elliott said. "Our ridership is picking up all the time," he said, and the majority of passengers are local travelers. "The support of the community has been outstanding," he said — so much so that a third daily trip between St. Croix and St. Thomas will be added by the end of October.
Mermaid has the ferry traffic between the two islands to itself until the Salacia resumes local service. Matthews said his boat will operate from around the middle of November until the beginning of May, and prices will be about the same as last year.
In the summer season, the Salacia ferries passengers between downtown Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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