Minivan incident alarms SSA motorists

Vehicle left hanging between ferry and bridge with water beneath.

The Island Home at the Slip 2 transfer bridge on Dec. 1. — Rich Saltzberg

Updated Dec. 2

A Philadelphia couple and their dogs were left dangling over a gap between a ferry and a transfer bridge at the Steamship Authority’s Vineyard Haven terminal on Saturday morning. 

The Island Home, the SSA’s largest ferry, pulled from Slip 2 as the couple’s minivan, a Chrysler Pacifica hybrid, was coming aboard the vessel. SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll hasn’t provided an explanation for why the Island Home pulled away, but acknowledged the incident.

The bridge suffered a snapped cable Friday night, for reasons that aren’t clear. When asked if the SSA allowed vehicles to load the next day across a bridge with a broken cable, Driscoll said “certain measures” were taken, but essentially, yes, vehicles were permitted to cross a broken bridge. In an email to The Times, no mention was made of the cable.

“During the loading of the 9:30 am departure of the MV Island Home on Saturday, Nov. 27, the vessel unexpectedly pulled slightly away from the Slip 2 transfer bridge in Vineyard Haven as the MV Katama was docking in Slip 1, the northern slip at the terminal,” Driscoll wrote. “A passenger vehicle was in the process of driving on board the MV Island Home at the time. The vessel’s crew immediately took action and moved other vehicles off the transfer bridge while the vessel was repositioned. Approximately 3 minutes later, the vehicle was then able to safely board the vessel, and the rest of the loading continued without incident. The Steamship Authority takes the safety of its passengers and crew extremely seriously, and is conducting a thorough review of the incident. No injuries or damage were reported.”

Jim and Marie Logue were leaving for home at the close of their annual Thanksgiving on the Vineyard. Marie Logue said she and her husband were driving onto the ferry, and had to stop at the top of the transfer bridge as vehicles ahead were getting directed to park. When her husband tried to pull forward after stopping, the back wheels began to spin on the bridge. One of the deckhands said, “Don’t move!” she told The Times.

“As the front part of our car got on the ferryboat, there was a sort of a banging noise — not sure what it was,” Jim Logue said. “I couldn’t back the car up, nor could I go forward.” 

“We really didn’t have an idea of what was going on,” Marie said. “And then they started in what I would describe as full emergency mode. A whole bunch of them showed up and they were screaming to get the cars backed up on the ramp … in the meantime telling us, Don’t move. And then I looked out my window and I could see water underneath the car.”

Marie said a crewmember told her everything was going to be OK. She recalls somebody else saying a cable had snapped. Jim said he overheard that the same cable that broke the night before had “come undone.”

While the minivan was suspended over the gap, Marie said she figured if the vehicle fell into the harbor, she and her husband could escape, but she wasn’t so sure about their two dogs.

“Once they got the cars off the ramp, you could feel the ramp rising,” Marie said. Jim said this helped to level off the minivan.

Somebody went up into the ferry, Marie said, and got ahold of the captain, and the captain brought the ferry back against the bridge and closed the gap.

“And then we drove on,” Marie said. Later as they were departing the ferry in Woods Hole, a deckhand said to Marie and Jim, “Hey, you should buy a lottery ticket …”

“I have to say, they handled the situation very well,” Marie said. “They were sharp. They seemed to know what they were doing. It didn’t seem like this was the first time.”

Marie said she reached out to the SSA via email on Sunday morning: “I haven’t heard a thing. Our car wasn’t damaged, but I just would like somebody to say, We’re sorry that happened. It was terrifying.” 

Marie also said nobody on scene explained what happened.

On Thursday, a day after she was originally interviewed by The Times, Marie said SSA Port Captain Charles Monteiro reached out by phone. 

“He was quite nice and quite apologetic,” she said. 

“All of them were beyond excellent,” Jim said of the crew’s response to the emergency. 

Asked if it was a scary experience, Jim said, “Like anything of that nature, your adrenaline is going a little bit.”

Jim described the event as unprecedented in his personal experience. “I’ve been coming to Martha’s Vineyard since June of 1957,” Jim said. “Every single year of my life, more than once a year in most of those years.” In that time, Jim said, “nothing like that has ever happened.”

Cable breaks

On Friday, Nov. 26, a cable supporting the transfer bridge at the Steamship Authority’s Vineyard Haven terminal snapped. The incident occurred in or around the last run of the night Friday, terminal agent Leigh Cormie said. At 9:45 am Saturday, a two-person SSA team was at work on the bridge. Cormie said at that time the repair was moments away from completion. “There were no delays or cancellations,” SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll previously told The Times. Driscoll later said the bridge went back into service before noon on Saturday. When The Times inquired about the cable over the weekend, the SSA never mentioned anything about the minivan incident. Only when the couple reached out to the newspaper did the incident come to light. In May 2020, a cable at the same transfer bridge snapped and sent a 20,000-pound block of counterweights into Vineyard Haven Harbor. That incident pinned the ferry Martha’s Vineyard under the bridge.

The SSA has been guarded about video footage of that incident, repeatedly refusing to release the footage to The Times. The SSA has claimed the footage is exempt from disclosure under the state’s public records law.


Updated with an additional comment about an SSA apology.


  1. I think it’s interesting that one of the deck hands “went up into the ferry and got ahold of the captain”.
    I know the SSA is not really up on all the latest technology, but I think this cutting edge technologically might be useful in an emergency and would be within their budget;

    The captain could have one of these, and someone on the freight deck could have the other.
    It even comes with simple to follow instructions about how to use them.
    We wouldn’t want to have anyone get hurt while running up the stairs after all.
    Safety first, they say.

  2. I’ve been riding the Steamship Authority boats for a very long time. As an architect I’ve always seen the ramp/ bridge technology as an accident waiting to happen. There must be better ramp technology that can be utilized. Please SSA replace those antiquated systems before there’s a bad accident.

  3. That ought to be worth a free round trip or two for this couple and their dogs. And no apology yet from the managerial (and highest paid) employees?? Congratulations and well-deserved Kudos to the crew (lowest paid employees) who apparently knew exactly what to do, and immediately and effectively prevented a possible disaster!!

  4. Nothing like scaring the folks shi7less, then not apologizing, how SSA.
    Of course after you have soiled yourself it’s always nice to have a incompetent deck hand give advice on lottery purchases, perhaps he should be anointed with the power of apology… instead of ignorant comments.
    At least they didn’t kill these poor folks and their dogs in the process of everyday seamanship.

    • Just curious, what makes the deckhand incompetent? Is it because you feel his lottery ticket comment was ignorant? I don’t feel it was ignorant and, though it’s tough to tell in a single sentence, I’m not sure the Logue’s feel it was anything more then a light hearted comment to try and put a little humor into what could have ended in a much worse situation if the deckhand was in fact incompetent.

  5. It’s remarkable how readily and quickly people rise to snark the SSA working personnel. Management and policy may be another matter; but in all the years of transits to MV from Woods Hole Terminal, I can’t recall an issue either of lack of common courtesy or deck or vehicle management competence, whether from ticket takers, deck crews, or parking assisters, having no reason for interchange with other office staff, beyond reservation calls, and the like. Show a little respect for the working stiffs and you’ll usually get a return of it.

  6. “The vessel unexpectedly pulled slightly away from the Slip 2 transfer bridge”. Like -WHAT? Is the ferry not under the control of the captain at all times? How does the vessel pull away on its own after it’s presumably been secured by the crew? Or have I been wrongly assuming that the vessel is securely docked before cars are loaded and unloaded? Was this an error by the crew in securing the vessel? Was this an infrastructure failure? We need answers. This could have been disastrous. Also, stacking cars on the ramp during loading while cars are being directed to park inside the ferry is stupid and dangerous.

  7. Reflecting Anthony’s observations, the SSA nearly drowns the couple and their pets, then as contrition expects them to go buy their own lottery tickets? (“Hey, you should buy a lottery ticket.”)
    Apparently they already bought a “lottery ticket”. It was that paper thingy given to the clerk before driving on to the boat.
    Their generosity knows no bounds.

  8. We are pleased to report that (Ret.) SSA Captain Montero called Marie last night on and apologized on behalf of the SSA. They had a nice conversation and he thanked us for mentioning how well the crew handled the event. We are thankful that this whole incident was resolved without injury to anyone and all passengers and crew had (another) safe passage across the Sound. Our biggest disappointment was having to leave the Vineyard at all.

    Jim and Marie Logue

    • Jim and Marie, you have a lot of class. Your comments about the incident to the Times, and this comment, reflect your graciousness in acknowledging that mistakes happen and that the crew reacted quickly and appropriately. We are all so grateful that you and your dogs were not hurt. I believe that the SSA will take lessons from this frightening incident that will benefit us all in the future. Stay well and come back soon!!

    • Everyone is thankful that you, Marie and your dogs are all okay. You are exemplary in your levelheaded response. The island needs 100s of more nice people like you!

  9. Drastic measures need to be taken immediately to prevent these breakdowns, equipment failures and inadequate maintenance to the ferries and the slips. It is unconscionable to allow these frequent dangerous events to continue to happen until lives are taken. It is also unconscionable that these occurrences are not made public immediately!

  10. “The SSA has been guarded about video footage of that incident, repeatedly refusing to release the footage to The Times. The SSA has claimed the footage is exempt from disclosure under the state’s public records law.” The town of Tisbury has the right, and should, install a video camera on the premises to monitor the SSA.. It would require a motion to approve funds provided by the SSA. to be used for the purpose as which are already in place.

  11. The incident strikes me as yet another example of the poor communication SSA management has had with the public and with its own hardworking employees for years. The delay in apologizing is one thing. But the SSA should have immediately insisted on a safety inspection of the Logues’ vehicle and should have offered to put them up in a hotel and/or to allow them to rent a car. There seems to be an enormous gulf at the SSA between the management and the frontlines.

Comments are closed.