April 9, 2002 The V.I. Fast Ferry should be up and running by this weekend, marketing director Kevin Matthews said from his Boston office on Tuesday.
Matthews said thought the catamaran could be back in service as early as Thursday, but "if we have to hold off an extra day or two to be ready for Carnival traffic, we will do so."
Matthews confirmed that the ferry, the 600-passenger Salacia, lost one of its four diesel engines on its final scheduled trip on Sunday. He said the company chartered another boat to accommodate the passengers for that last trip.
Matthews, who is based in the home office of V.I. Fast Ferry's parent company , Boston Harbor Cruises, said he sent the company's chief engineer, Bob Tarrent, to St. Croix to supervise the engine repair.
Tarrent "is doing a complete inspection" of the vessel, Matthews said. "We've been reliable for the past 120 days, and I want to be dependable for Carnival with the troupes, the families we have booked."
The ferry was out of service for about two weeks at the end of March and start of April for structural repairs. "That's normal wear and tear for an aluminum or steel boat," Matthews said.
He acknowledged that the seas between St. Thomas and St. Croix can be rough, even for a vessel of the caliber of the Salacia. But he added, "We have rough seas in Boston Harbor, too. The Salacia is built to handle rough seas." The high-speed catamaran is in service in Boston in the summer season.
The vessel is scheduled to end its first winter season in the Virgin Islands on May 5. Matthews said "We will be back in November" for a second season, and he still hopes to move eventually into year-round service in the territory.
The Salacia will make the following additional trips the final week of Carnival, the company announced Tuesday:
April 24 — night run for pre-J'Ouvert arrival: depart St. Croix 7:30 p.m., arrive St. Thomas 8:45 p.m.; return trip departs St. Thomas 9:15 p.m., arrives St. Croix 10:30 p.m.
April 25 — depart St. Croix 7:30 p.m., arrive St. Thomas 8:45 p.m.; depart St. Thomas 9:15 p.m., arrive St. Croix 10:30 p.m.
April 26 — allowing a daytrip to take in horse racing at Clinton E. Phipps Race Track: depart St. Croix 7:30 p.m., arrive St. Thomas 8:45 p.m.; depart St. Thomas 9:15 p.m., arrive St. Croix 10:30 p.m.
April 27 — allowing a daytrip to take in Adult Parade, fireworks and Village music: depart St. Croix 8:15 p.m., arrive St. Thomas 9:30 p.m,; depart St. Thomas 11:30 p.m., arrive St. Croix 12:45 a.m.
April 28 — depart St. Croix 8:15 p.m., arrive St. Thomas 9:30 p.m.; depart St. Thomas 10 p.m., arrive St. Croix 11:15 p.m.
For updated information on the status of the regularly scheduled ferry service between St. Croix and St. Thomas, call 719-0099 or visit the company's Fast Ferry web site.
Meanwhile, a second high-speed catamaran is scheduled to commence ferry service between the two islands soon. Mermaid Fast Ferries' 135-foot catamaran, Mermaid, will operate from Gallows Bay on St. Croix and the waterfront on St. Thomas, general manager Joe Thayer said Tuesday.
"We would like to be ready for Carnival," Thayer said, "but it will probably be the beginning of May." The Norwegian-built Mermaid is en route from Gibraltar now, he said, and is expected to reach St. Croix on April 15 or 16. It must clear U.S. Coast Guard inspection before it can be put into local service.
The Mermaid, which is locally owned, can seat 370 passengers. It is owned by St. Croix Realtor Chris Elliot. Thayer said the company has not firmed up its schedule or fares, but it will run three daily trips back and forth, just as the Salacia does. Elliott has said the service will be year-round.
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