Seven state ferries out of service brings capacity reductions to three routes

The state ferry Wenatchee is undergoing emergency repairs in a Seattle drydock after a crab pot line wrapped around a propeller.

It's the seventh vessel in the Washington State Ferries fleet taken out of service, leading to a shuffling of boats across the system.

Smaller-capacity ferries are running on the Edmonds-Kingston and Seattle-Bremerton runs.

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The three-boat Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth run is now down to two boats.

"Any time you have a vessel go out unexpectedly, it has a trickle effect," said Ian Sterling of Washington State Ferries.

The ferry system hopes to have the Wenatchee fixed and full service restored next week.

The problem comes as several ferries are out of service for annual inspections that are timed for winter when traffic is half what is in summer.

"Lucky for us, it's a slower time of the year, but still it illustrates the fragility of the system when you don't have a deep bench," Sterling said.

As the state ferry fleet ages, breakdowns become more frequent.

Gov. Jay Inslee's budget calls for money to start building two new vessels and to begin converting some boats to greener hybrid engines.

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