The Clipper Express, right, was moored in Appletree Cove beside a vessel previously used for the SoundRunner ferry service. (Nick Twietmeyer/Kitsap News Group)

The Clipper Express, right, was moored in Appletree Cove beside a vessel previously used for the SoundRunner ferry service. (Nick Twietmeyer/Kitsap News Group)

Bye, bye, black boat

The Clipper Express departed Appletree Cove, and then ran aground in Port Angeles

KINGSTON — On Sunday morning, the Clipper Express departed Appletree Cove — four months later than initially estimated — and then ran aground in Port Angeles that evening.

On Nov. 5, the Clipper Express — often referred to simply as the “black boat” — cast off the barge owned by the Port of Kingston. The 400-ton boat had been tied up in Appletree Cove since June 2 and Port Manager Jim Pivarnik was beginning to worry whether the boat would be gone in time for the arrival of passenger ferry service to Seattle.

With deadlines fast approaching, the port had planned to auction the boat off in December, factoring in the cost of overdue moorage at $12,920. However, since the group took the boat early they only had to pay back $7,625.

“I have a dry dock date in February and, if for some reason they had delayed and not gotten out of here, I don’t know what I would’ve done with a 136-foot boat,” Pivarnik said. The barge that the Clipper Express was moored to, he said, is in need of servicing and must be refitted with some new hardware before it is ready to accommodate the passenger ferry, set to arrive next summer.

According to Pivarnik, the owners of the Clipper Express — who are from the Marshall Islands, an island nation in Micronesia — were delayed in their departure from Kingston because they were busy working with the Coast Guard to ensure that they had the proper certifications to pilot the boat back home.

“Everything is fine. They paid their bill and they left and we’re very happy,” Pivarnik said.

While the Port of Kingston may be happy with the departure of the Clipper Express, the Port Angeles harbormaster who called Pivarnik on Nov. 6 was far from it.

“He was not happy. They misrepresented the boat, they didn’t tell him that [the boat] drew 19 feet and his marina is only 15 feet [deep],” Pivarnik said. “He came in Monday morning to a 136-foot boat on the beach in the middle of his marina and he was not a happy guy.”

While the Clipper Express’s arrival in Port Angeles resulted in a minor disaster, the problem was resolved once the tide came in.

Port of Port Angeles Harbormaster Terry Kennedy said that as soon as the tide lifted the boat, the Clipper Express was sent on her way and is now anchored out in the bay.

“The boat was just too big to be in the marina. The docks can’t handle the kind of weight that boat had,” Kennedy said.

— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact him at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com.

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