High-speed Hy-Line ferry to Hyannis, Nantucket is out of service

"Great Point," another Hyline vessel. —Hallie MacCormick

A failed rubber shaft coupling on the Vineyard Lady, a used vessel just purchased from an operator in Brooklyn, has caused a headache for the owners of Hy-Line Cruises as well as summer visitors who travel on the fast ferry between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs and from Oak Bluffs to Nantucket.

“It’s a complicated issue with no easy fix,” Philip Scudder, vice president of marketing for Hy-Line, told The Times Wednesday. “There’s zero service from Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard, and from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket.”

Last Friday, the high-speed ferry was traveling from Oak Bluffs to Nantucket, and just as it approached the dock in Nantucket, the heat alarm went off, Mr. Scudder said.

“The rubber in the coupling created friction,” Mr. Scudder explained. “There was nothing flammable, but it set off the heat alarm, and the Coast Guard and fire department responded.”

He said the vessel made it to the shipyard in Fairhaven on one engine.

“In the meantime, we’re looking for a replacement coupling, and there’s nothing in the U.S. The manufacturer of this coupling is in Germany.”

Mr. Scudder said Hy-Line is reaching out to engineers here to determine whether or not a suitable replacement might be available, rather than waiting at least six weeks for the part to be manufactured and delivered from Germany.

Mr. Scudder said he hasn’t calculated the loss of revenue yet. And the new coupling will cost approximately $30,000.

“Worse is the public relations issue,” Mr. Scudder said. “People are trying to make reservations; there’s a lot of stress in the ticket office. We’re almost to the Fourth of July, and we’ve been looking for another vessel, but replacement vessels in July are few and far between. Nobody has a boat sitting around doing nothing.”