Island ferry lines start season

MARBLEHEAD Unseasonably cold weather delayed at least one major commercial ferry this spring.
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

MARBLEHEAD

Unseasonably cold weather delayed at least one major commercial ferry this spring.

Miller Boat Line was supposed to start running March 21, but thick ice around Put-in-Bay has delayed its first run of the spring by a week.

The last time the Miller ferry was delayed this long was 30 years ago, said Julene Market, Miller Boat Line advertising director.

"Lake Erie is so unpredictable," Market said. "Sometimes it is literally called at the last minute, but that's the nature of the business when you're dealing with Mother Nature."

The late start is especially unusual considering the ferryboats were running into January -- and two years ago, the ferry boats operated year-round. Miller Boat Line serves Put-in-Bayand Middle Bass Island.

In terms of cost, Market said Miller Ferry is not affected significantly because the company tries to make it up during the summer.

"It really impacts the residents," she said. "They're very anxious to get to the mainland. When we do start running, we'll probably be busier than usual."

Susie Cooper, a year-round resident of Put-in-Bay, said she's not feeling any cabin fever yet.

"We just go with whatever the weather dictates," Cooper said. "Is it a problem? I think we all just deal with it ... whatever it takes."

While the ferry is not running, airplanes continue to take people across Lake Erie on a daily basis.

Put-in-Bay Airport handled more freight and passengers last week since the ferry boats were not operational, said Monica Drake, executive director of the Put-in-Bay Township Port Authority, which oversees the airport.

Dairy Air, a transportation company, took about 25-30 more people each day compared to when the ferry boats run, Drake said.

"With the ice still in, people still have to fly," she said. "This week's spring break. People are gone. When they come back, they'll probably have to fly back."

Island businesses were not affected too much since many of them are still closed, and those that are open cater primarily to islanders, said Maggie Beckford, executive director of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce.

"As long as the weather stays this way, you're not going to have people lined up to come over here," Beckford said.

Miller Boat Line's four ferry boats were locked in about 8-10 inches of ice in the island's bay last week, but could float free if temperatures warm.

Temperatures could be in the 50s on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, said Andrew Ulrich, AccuWeather meteorologist.

"If there's any ice around there, it's probably going to loosen up," Ulrich said. "It will take a couple days to notice significant changes, but by mid-week things will start looking a little different around there."

Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line in Marblehead began operating Wednesday.

PULLOUT - Ferry schedules

Jet Express

-Sandusky - May 23 - begins service

-Port Clinton - May 2 - begins service

-www.jet-express.com

Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line

April schedule

-6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week

-www.kelleysislandferry.com

Miller Boat Line (once the ice melts)

-7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sunday

-www.millerferry.com