Sleeping captain delays Washington ferry

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Two ferries from Clinton, Wash., were delayed Wednesday morning after a sleeping captain was discovered on board one of the boats crossing the Puget Sound.  The ferries, the Kittitas and Cathlamet, were in service for the Clinton-Mukilteo run.

Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey said that it is not uncommon for crew members to board a ferry overnight as preparation for their upcoming workday. However, a ferry captain that boarded the Cathlamet was discovered sleeping midway between Clinton and Mukilteo. The working ferry captain then had to turn the ferry around and go back to Clinton, so that the slumbering captain could get off to pilot the Kittitas ferry.

Coursey said she did not know why the captain overslept or who discovered him on the ferry.

The Cathlamet eventually reached Mukilteo about 20 minutes after its scheduled arrival time.

Coursey said some of the passengers were very upset, as many of them were late for work.

Recently, there have been a number of ferry cancellations due to staffing issues, but the case of a sleeping captain causing a service disruption is not known to have happened previously.

Coursey said there will be a formal investigation of the incident by the Port Captain’s Office.

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  • nick

    before you get pissed off, make sure you understand how your captain gets paid, under what conditions and whether you would work the same job under the same conditions

    • steffletcher

      Very sound advice Nick… Isn't it always easier to criticize than to opt for trying to understand or heaven forbid one might try having some compassion. We live in a culture in the US that encourages striking first and apologizing later…. Very sad way to live.

  • DAN

    I probably agree with you, nik. However, the man accepted and worked at a job. He must have had years of experience. By now, he may have just had his timing wrong and didn't wake up as scheduled. It doesn't matter. He failed at his job and inconvenienced a lot of people — customers. That's a no-no in most businesses.

    • steffletcher

      I agree with you too Dan, in part —- And, we do not know the circumstances yet… I have been a burn ICU nurse for 25 years and I cannot tell you the times I've been put in the dangerous position of working that 6th or 7th twelve hour night shift because of staff shortages. I tried to say no… but many times it was implied that my job would be on the line if I said no… And, there were times that I was so exhausted that I wanted to sleep — thankfully, never have… So people were inconvenienced and instead of doing something beneficial — like reading a book or maybe brainstorming on ideas to improve their ferry experience, they complain. No one likes to be late and that is understandable… I wonder about how long it's been since this happened or if it's happened… Why can't they be thankful for the thousands of trips that have gone without fault?! But, by God, if they make a mistake — we all better be forgiving of them!

      • Mike

        I worked night shifts for years. Sure I didn't like it if my relief was late, but NOBODY wants to be late, sometimes it just happens. Just be grateful if you always manage to be punctual.

  • Linda

    I guess it's official, America IS the land of excuses for failing at your job. Yes, I've overslept. Then again, my job isn't a ferry captain; where people depend on me to be on time to get to their jobs. When others depend on you in order to get to their jobs, in an economy where having a job is now a blessing, should we really be making excuses and just shrugging off this situation? Not unless you're going to excuse every ferry captain, every pilot, every bus driver or every subway driver for oversleeping. He screwed up. He's responsible for his job. I hope he's not fired, but I hope he is reprimanded. It's unrealistic and ridiculous to tell everyone to shut up and smile and accept "failure to perform – or even show up" as the new status quo. Congrats, you're all saintly – feeling superior now? Good, don't complain the next time someone doesn't do their job and it negatively affects your life since you believe there's an acceptable excuse for poor work performance.