Ferry Islander to be auctioned on eBay
The ultimate Martha's Vineyard souvenir will soon be available on eBay, but the shipping and handling costs will likely be considerable. The corporation responsible for Governors Island in New York City announced it would put the former Steamship Authority (SSA) ferry Islander on the Internet auction block.
The 770-passenger, half-century-old ferry that the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) purchased for $500,000 in July 2007 has proved to be a lemon, according to a report published on January 27, in the New York Observer. The ferry costs $20,000 a month to maintain, and the cost of new steel alone would likely cost at least $3 million, not to mention other deferred maintenance problems in need of money, the report said.
Photo by Susan Safford
The words "venerable' and "beloved" were most often used to describe the ferry that served the Vineyard-Woods Hole route for 56 years, but never lemon. There were even some who called the Steamship Authority's decision to sell the double-ender a mistake.
In the spring of 2007 the SSA put the vessel up for sale for $750,000. At the time SSA officials said that maintaining the vessel as a backup ferry would be too costly.
That July the authority board agreed to sell the ferry to Governor's Island for $500,000. Islanders who were worried the vessel might be sold for scrap, the only other option under consideration, were relieved to think the ferry would still be in service against the skyline of Manhattan.
The Islander was replaced on the Vineyard run by the newly built $33-million Island Home.
Contacted by The Martha's Vineyard Times last week, SSA general manager Wayne Lamson was surprised to learn that the ferry was headed for the auction block. He said that although the SSA's costs to maintain the ferry's passenger certification had become high, she was built quite solidly.
The SSA settled for less than the asking price when it sold the Islander. It also dropped the price when it sold the Flying Cloud, the trouble-prone fast ferry used on the Nantucket run. Mr. Lamson said sometimes it is better to get less in exchange for avoiding constant maintenance.
Asked if he planned to submit a bid on eBay, Mr. Lamson, never one to wax nostalgic at board meetings, laughed and said, "No, I don't think so."
Governor's Island is a 172-acre island waiting for redevelopment in the heart of New York Harbor, 800 yards from lower Manhattan and 400 yards from Brooklyn. The northern half of the Island, consisting of approximately 92 acres, is designated as both a National Historic Landmark District and a New York City Historic District.