Coffman Cove’s Northend Ferry Authority (NFA) is in the process of getting their new Rainforest Islands ferry up and operating by the spring 2012. The service will offer connections from Coffman Cove, Wrangell, Ketchikan, and South Mitkof Island near Petersburg giving rural southeast residents more ferry travel options. Recently Northend Ferry Authority Manager Kent Miller visited Wrangell to begin planning where the new ferry will dock.

Miller says presently the City and Borough Barge terminal is NFA’s first choice.

“It has the advantage of being available to let us stay on schedule, it has a stern loading configuration that will work very well with the vessels we are proposing to use, and we think it will be a very convenient terminal to use,” he says.

A $3 million USDA Rural Development loan has been secured and at this time NFA is still shopping for a ferry. Miller says boat options they are presently looking at are about 155 ft by 30 ft in size and will carry around 60 passengers and 12 cars. Miller says one advantage of having a smaller ferry boat is that it could have repairs done in Wrangell.

“We know that there will be times that it will need an emergency lift due to prop damage and that sort of thing that you don’t want to have happen but have to plan for any way. The boats we are looking are probably too big for the boat yard at present. But we are very interested anyway for the chance that we will find one that does work. And certainly the use of the Wrangell boat yard is something we are very hopeful that we will be able to do in the future,” he says.

NFA plans to have the Rainforest Islands ferry service running by next May. The summer schedule includes four trips a week between Coffman cove, Wrangell, and South Mitkof. As well as three trips a week linking southbound between Coffman Cove and Ketchikan. The winter schedule will include three trips a week return only to Coffman Cove, Wrangell, and South Mitkof, aimed at getting school teams and faculty to games and events in the winter school months.

Estimated ferry costs for passengers are between $20 to $35 each way. Miller says Reservation and ticketing will be done online or by phone through the NFA Coffman Cove office. For more information on the Northend Ferry Authority you can contact the City of Coffman Cove at 907-329-2233.
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