SSA names new high-speed ferry Iyanough
Reflecting the spirit of cooperation that characterized Steamship Authority meetings throughout last year, the authority members got off to a quick start in 2006, making short work of a light agenda at their first monthly business meeting of the New Year.
Meeting Tuesday in Woods Hole, the authority members received a status report on current capital projects, endorsed a management list of projects considered candidates for state and federal funding programs, agreed to place several video games on the ferry Eagle, and named the new high-speed ferry Iyanough (Eye-a-no), after a native American chief who assisted the Pilgrims. She will replace the Flying Cloud on the Nantucket route.
The meeting began with a statement by Robert Marshall, Falmouth SSA member, who took over the chairmanship from Marc Hanover, Vineyard SSA member, under a legislatively imposed rotation. Mr. Marshall, who moved the meetings from Thursday to Tuesday, said that his intention was to allow everyone an opportunity to speak as long as whatever was said was "relevant and respectful."
Taking a page from his stint as Falmouth town moderator, Mr. Marshall said he intended to abstain from all votes, except in the unusual circumstance of a tie, given the system of weighted votes that assigns 35 percent of the vote to the Nantucket and Vineyard members and 10 percent of the vote to the Barnstable, Falmouth, and New Bedford members.
The last item on the meeting agenda was a discussion on the name of the new high-speed ferry currently under construction and scheduled to begin service on the Nantucket route sometime in December.
In the case of the Flying Cloud, Nantucket's first fast ferry, and the Island Home, the large conventional ferry scheduled to replace the Islander on the Vineyard route at the end of this year, the respective members at the time, Grace Grossman and Kathryn Roessel, each strongly defended their assumed prerogative to name the boat that would serve their respective island's route.
In November 2004, the boatline members, at the urging of Ms. Roessel and without debate, voted unanimously to name the new vessel Island Home, after a vessel that served the Vineyard and Nantucket routes more than a century ago. The only objections to the selection of a name that had had no public discussion by Islanders came from Marc Hanover, then Oak Bluffs port council member, who questioned the process and lack of community involvement.
As discussion began regarding the naming of the new fast ferry, Nantucket member Flint Ranney said the SSA had received 199 suggestions as part of a contest to solicit names. Mr. Ranney said that in view of the close working relationship that had developed with Hyannis, Nantucket's port, he was willing to defer to Barnstable member Robert O'Brien's suggestion that the new boat be named Iyanough. A statue of the chief of the Cummaquid tribe stands on Hyannis Village Green.
A motion was approved with no discussion. Bob Jones of Barnstable, port council chairman, said the approval spoke volumes about the good working relationship that now existed among board members.
In other business, Carl Walker, director of engineering and maintenance, told the members that the shipyard building the Island Home is operating at 75 percent of its pre-Katrina capacity and working diligently to recover from the effects of the devastating hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast.
He said the current launch date is July 17 and delivery is scheduled for November 29. The new ferry is expected to begin operating on the Vineyard route sometime in December or January 2007, once crewmembers have become familiar with the vessel.
Mr. Hanover asked that the new ferry be brought to the Island for several days after its arrival from Mississippi, so residents could walk around and tour the new boat.
The members went along with a management idea to install several video arcade games on the Eagle, in an effort to generate some revenue and provide a diversion for youngsters during the lengthy 2 hour and 15 minute crossing between Nanucket and Hyannis. Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said the machines would be placed in a separate deck area so as not to disturb other passengers as part of a test. He added that the plan had the support of the vessel's captains.
Mr. Marshall suggested that four machines would not be enough and would simply generate long lines of youngsters. Mr. Ranney quipped that should a player get a high enough score he or she could win a SSA credit card.
Also concerning technology, Mr. Lamson reported that more and more reservations are being made using the SSA web site. He said that in 2005 there had been a 55 percent increase in the number of reservations over the previous year. On the first day of the early reservation program on Jan. 3, he said, more than 1,500 reservations were booked, generating more than $250,000.