Hy-Line suspends Vineyard fast ferry service for season

Hy-Line suspends Vineyard fast ferry service for season
Sept. 18 fire in Hyannis Harbor damaged Lady Martha


Fast ferry Lady Martha rests in berth shortly after season-ending fire.

By James Kinsella

Hy-Line's fast ferry service between Hyannis and Martha's Vineyard is over for the season.

Murray Scudder, vice president and co-owner of the privately held ferry company, said Hy-Line has decided to drop the four to five daily round trips that had been covered by the Lady Martha, a fast ferry that was damaged in a Sept. 18 fire.

Scudder said Hy-Line is continuing to provide service between Hyannis and the Vineyard port of Oak Bluffs with the Brant Point, a conventional ferry that also operates on the route. The Brant Point will finish out this season's service to the Vineyard, which will end next Sunday, Oct. 19. The vessel provides one round trip a day between Cape Cod and the Vineyard.

Hy-Line has sent the Lady Martha to a shipyard in the Somerset area for repairs. The company hopes to have the fast ferry back in operation to fill in this winter when the Grey Lady, the company's fast ferry on the Hyannis-Nantucket route, is taken out of service for scheduled maintenance.

Company officials had considered bringing in another fast ferry to cover the remaining trips, or adding trips to the Brant Point's schedule. In the end, Scudder said, given the characteristics of the Hyannis-Vineyard market and the time of the year, Hy-Line decided the Brant Point's existing schedule would suffice for the remainder of the season. He said the decision does confront a small number of commuters with the need to find another way to get to and from work.

Hy-Line operates the only ferry service between Hyannis and the Vineyard. The Steamship Authority operates far more extensive Vineyard service, but those ferries travel to and from Woods Hole.

In a statement on its Web site, Hy-Line stated: "Due to mechanical issues, Lady Martha is out of service for the remainder of the 2008 season. Our traditional Martha's Vineyard ferry service will continue to operate her schedule through Oct. 19, 2008. We apologize for any inconveniences caused."

The Brant Point departs daily from the Ocean Street docks at 9:35 a.m., arriving in Oak Bluffs at 11:10 a.m. The vessel departs from Oak Bluffs at 3:45 p.m., arriving back in Hyannis at 5:20 p.m.

The Lady Martha, an 11-year-old vessel, previously entered service for Hy-Line as the Grey Lady II, the company's second fast ferry on the Hyannis-Nantucket route. After Hy-Line commissioned and put a larger fast ferry on the run, the company leased the older vessel to a West Coast company, and then brought the boat back in 2005 as its first fast ferry on the Hyannis-Vineyard route.

On Sept. 18, the Lady Martha was about to enter Hyannis Inner Harbor when a fire in the vessel's starboard engine was discovered by the crew. Minutes later, the crew successfully docked the ferry at the Ocean Street docks. Four crew members and a Hyannis firefighter who responded to the scene received medical treatment at Cape Cod Hospital. The six passengers on board were unhurt.

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