The LeConte state ferry departs Juneau on Tuesday afternoon, bound for Haines on a special round-trip following two cancelled sailings due to a mechanical problem. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

The LeConte state ferry departs Juneau on Tuesday afternoon, bound for Haines on a special round-trip following two cancelled sailings due to a mechanical problem. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

LeConte returns to service with special trip to Haines after weekend cancellation

State ferry will pick up half of nearly 60 stranded vehicles, others may have to wait until July.

The LeConte state ferry returned to service Tuesday afternoon, following the cancellation of two sailings in recent days that left many Southeast residents and their vehicles stuck in Haines following the weekend’s Beerfest, with a special trip to return some of the stranded vehicles to Juneau.

The ferry departed the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal shortly after 3 p.m., was scheduled to reach Haines by 7:30 p.m. and return to Juneau by 1 a.m. Wednesday, said Sam Dapcevich, a spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The LeConte will then resume its normal schedule with a 7 a.m. departure for Tenakee Springs.

Scheduled sailings of the 225-passenger LeConte were canceled Sunday and Tuesday due to engine trouble, disrupting the plans of many Southeast residents who had traveled to the annual Beerfest that occurs in Haines during Memorial Day weekend. Dapcevich said LeConte’s mechanical problem was a bad cylinder in the starboard engine which triggered an overheating warning.

“The LeConte limped into Auke Bay,” he said. “We were able to replace the cylinder and got the approval of the U.S. Coast Guard to return to service.”

While the Kennicott ferry was able to pick up some passengers on its southbound run Monday, there wasn’t adequate space for vehicles.

Nearly 60 vehicles were left behind in Haines, about 30 of which were scheduled to be brought to Juneau aboard the LeConte during its special trip Tuesday, according to DOT officials. The next listed vacancies to place a vehicle aboard a southbound Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Haines are in July.

• Contact Laurie Craig at laurie.craig@juneauempire.com.

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