St. Croix businessman Warren Mosler, designer and owner of the QE IV ferry, said one last sea test is necessary before launching a new ferry service between St. Croix and St. Thomas and then he plans to build a second vessel to handle passenger demand, if needed.
Since being launched in May, the QE IV has been approved by the V.I. Port Authority and has undergone a number of tests for the U.S. Coast Guard. The final trial will test the performance in 6-foot seas with 20-knot winds.
For the last two months, seas have been “flat,” according to Richard Difede, president of Gold Coast Yachts, the company that build QE IV, but he said they hope conditions, known locally as the Christmas Winds, will pick up this week. Data will be collected for the USCG’s spreadsheets when the vessel sets sail under the necessary conditions, he said.
Mosler said he has sailed on the ferry in 6-foot seas and the boat performed as it should.
“The ride quality is going to be pretty good,” Difede said.
Mosler said once the Coast Guard has endorsed the ferry, service will begin from St. Croix’s Gallows Bay to Charlotte Amalie seven days a week. Departures from St. Croix will be at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. and from St. Thomas at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 each way and can be purchased onboard.
The QE IV, little more than 100 feet long, was designed by Mosler and will carry up to 90 passengers. It was designed for comfort and fuel efficiency. The long hulls “fool the sea” and create a smoother ride, according to Difede.
The ferry uses around 30 gallons of gas an hour versus 160 gallons by traditional ferries. It will churn through the seas at around 24 knots, completing the passage between islands in two hours or less, depending on the weather, Difede said.
Neither Mosler nor Difede had heard social media rumors that the vessel had been sold. Difede speculated that people were confused hearing that Fast Ferry, the previous service between St. Croix and St. Thomas, was for sale on the mainland and may return to the territory as an excursion boat.
In fact, time on Gold Coast’s construction schedule is being held open to build a second, larger ferry that could be ready to launch in the spring.
“They’ve saved a slot at Gold Coast, provided everything goes right,” Mosler confirmed.