BAR HARBOR — The Schoodic Ferry, the May-to-October passenger service between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor, is ceasing operation.
Kaitlyn Mullen, who started the ferry service in 2016, cited “funding issues” as a major reason for shutting it down.
“You can only go so far with so much money,” she said.
As for another factor in the decision, she said, “We had a dock in Winter Harbor that was not working out relationship-wise as a good home for the ferry.”
That dock is at the Winter Harbor Marina. In 2016, the Schoodic Institute signed a 20-year lease on the marina property.
In Bar Harbor, the ferry departed from the pier at College of the Atlantic (COA).
The Schoodic Ferry was in competition with the ferry that has been operated by Downeast Windjammer Cruise Lines for the past 17 years. That ferry carries passengers between the Bar Harbor Inn pier and the Winter Harbor Marina.
The Schoodic Ferry was the commercial arm of Frenchman Bay Research Boating, a non-profit organization that Mullen set up with the idea of using the boat as a “research platform” for scientists to collect data on such things as water quality and seabird and marine mammal populations in the bay. She said last week that she intends for it to continue in that role.
Frenchman Bay Research Boating raised some of the money for the purchase of the 48-foot boat that became the ferry on the crowd-funding web site Crowdrise.
“We are just trying to figure out how we can best do environmental baseline monitoring science and either combine it with affordable transportation with different ports in the area or combine it with marine education on an experiential learning basis,” she said. “There are definitely things we are exploring. We are taking ideas from different community members.”
In June 2016, Mullen reported two incidents of vandalism during the Schoodic Ferry’s first month of operation. No one was ever charged in connection with the vandalism, which occurred at night while the boat was tied up in Winter Harbor.
Mullen said those incidents, along with another in October 2016 in which the ferry slipped its mooring in Frenchman Bay near the COA pier, caused about $50,000 in damage and put the ferry out of service for several days.
In December 2016, Mullen said she was seeking $100,000 in donations to pay for the damage to the ferry and to cover the cost of building and installing two new floats at the COA pier.