Updated 9:50 am June 28
The on again, off again MV Island Home ferry is back in service after missing two morning runs Thursday morning. The Thursday morning runs were cancelled due to mechanical issues, according to alerts issued by the Steamship Authority.
Thursday’s alert came well after the 6 am trip should have departed and just a short time after the 7 am from Vineyard Haven should have left port, except the Island Home was in Woods Hole.
In an email to The Times, Sean Driscoll, the SSA spokesman, wrote that the issue had to do with a starter of the ferry’s emergency generator. He said the ferry service would be issuing a statement soon.
“This morning, the chief engineer on board the MV Island Home identified a malfunction in the starter for the vessel’s emergency generator, likely caused by the repeated attempts to start the generator Wednesday following the malfunction in the relay,” Driscoll wrote. “The starter needed to be replaced, necessitating the cancelation of the 6 a.m. departure from Woods Hole and the 7 am departure from Vineyard Haven. The repairs have been completed and the vessel made its 8:15 am departure from Woods Hole as scheduled.”
This comes after an up and down day Wednesday when a morning run from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven was cancelled because of a generator issue.
On Wednesday, Coast Guard spokesman Nathan Mendes told The Times it was an emergency diesel generator that “went down,” and the SSA voluntarily took the ferry out of service.
“During a routine and required test of the emergency generator on board the M/V Island Home prior to its 10:45 am trip from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, a relay failed to perform as expected, and the emergency generator did not automatically activate,” according to an email issued by spokesman Sean Driscoll. “The relay required repair, so the passengers were removed from the Island Home and loaded on board the MV Nantucket for its 11:05 am scheduled departure to Oak Bluffs. The Island Home’s 10:45 am trip and noon trip have been canceled while repairs are underway. The MV Sankaty will run an extra trip, departing at 2 pm from Woods Hole and 3:15 pm from Vineyard Haven, to accommodate the vehicles that were unable to be loaded onto the Island Home.”
In a follow-up email at 2:15 Wednesday, Driscoll wrote that the U.S. Coast Guard was allowing the Island Home to make its subsequent trips with “both its primary generators activated to allow for a proper safety backup. Additionally, SSA personnel will be stationed at the backup generator to manually activate it should it become necessary during the voyage.”
The Island Home made its 1:15 pm trip at about 2:30 pm from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, Driscoll wrote, “and it is expected that the boat will make up the time during the rest of its runs.”
Standby reopened in Woods Hole Wednesday, and the MV Sankaty helped to move vehicles that were delayed as a result of the missed crossings. An additional crew was brought in so that the Sankaty could provide unscheduled service Wednesday afternoon and evening, Driscoll wrote.
According to The Times employee, on Wednesday morning people were allowed to board the Island Home in Woods Hole, and then were told to get off again. Many of the passengers boarded the MV Nantucket, which took them to Oak Bluffs.
For several hours, there was no official word from the Steamship Authority, except on its webpage.
This comes just days before the busy Fourth of July week on-Island. It also comes after the Steamship Authority hired a private firm to look into repeated issues with the ferries, including mechanical breakdowns.
Updated after the Island Home returned to service. -Ed.