Ferry Elwha pulled out of service a second time

Ferry Elwha pulled out of service a second time
The state ferry Elwha's much-anticipated return to service in the San Juan Islands at the height of the tourism season didn't happen.

Ferry officials originally said the 144-car Elwha would be back on the route Saturday, a week and a half after it had to be replaced by a smaller boat because of a problem with its propulsion-control cooling system.

But that plan was scrapped after the vessel experienced mechanical problems on its way to back to the San Juans run on Friday evening, ferry officials said.

Washington State Ferries said in a statement that the Elwha's propulsion control system malfunctioned just hours before it was due to return to service. The vessel was returned to the ferry system's Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility for evaluation and repair.

The cause of the problem is not known at this time, and there is no estimate of how much longer it will remain out of service.

The 90-car ferry Sealth and the ferry Kaleetan will continue as replacements until the Elwha is returned to service.

The Elwha's troubles began Aug. 6 when it went dead in the water near Blakely Island while carrying more than 200 people and 100 cars at the height of the San Juans' tourist season.

It has been out of service ever since.