JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Rachel Marie sat in dry dock yesterday at Kalaeloa. The Rachel Marie, one of the TheBoat's two commuter ferries, has been out of service for nearly a month now. Crews cut a large hole out of the catamaran to install a replacement engine yesterday.
Ferry repairs are under way
Crews installed a replacement engine yesterday into one of the city's two commuter ferries that has been out of service for about three weeks.
City officials aren't sure when the Rachel Marie, a 70-foot catamaran, will be ready to run again.
Later this week, Hornblower Marine Services, the city-contracted company in charge of operating the yearlong pilot program, TheBoat, will hold a test run in the water to ensure the engine is working properly.
Meanwhile, the 6 a.m. ride from Kalaeloa to Aloha Tower and 5:20 p.m. ride in the opposite direction has been canceled for the rest of the week. The other rides on the Melissa Ann are operating as scheduled.
"In terms of a pilot project, this is what it's all about," said TheBoat's project manager, Darin Mar. "It's all a part of the learning curve."
The impact on ridership hasn't been determined yet, Mar said yesterday. Some passengers opted to catch a shuttle on TheBus that took them directly to their destination or hopped on another boat ride, Mar said. TheBoat averages about 250 to 300 riders a day, according to city spokesman Bill Brennan. Each vessel can hold up to 149 passengers with six round-trip rides a day.
Crews noticed one of the Rachel Marie's two engines had a damaged crankshaft and canceled rides beginning Nov. 9.
They had to find a replacement engine on the mainland. However, the Rachel Marie was built in 1988 and that model is no longer manufactured, said Tom Dougherty, Hornblower marine superintendent.
Hornblower, which was awarded a $5 million contract from a grant the city received from the Federal Transit Administration, is in charge of paying for repair costs. Estimates haven't been calculated yet, Dougherty said.
Hornblower had some problems with the Rachel Marie since TheBoat's launch on Sept. 17. The vessel, which was in Seattle before coming to Hawaii, was out of service for a week in September because of engine problems.
"It was unfortunate," Dougherty said. "Because the boats were built in 1988, sometimes it's just bad luck. They're good solid boats but their engines have some hours on them."
In case of future engine problems, Mayor Mufi Hannemann asked Hornblower to search for a spare replacement engine.