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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — A new ferry will soon by plying Casco Bay with a name that’s an ode to Chebeague Island’s sovereignty.
Independence will replace Chebeague Transportation Co.’s Islander, which has served as the principal ferry for transportation to and from the island for 34 years.
The ferry is being built at Washburn & Doughty Associates in East Boothbay and is set to be delivered May 1. The Islander, which was also built by Washburn & Doughty, will become a backup vessel.
The Independence, designed to closely resemble the Islander in appearance, but will be a slightly larger 56-foot, steel-hulled ferry. It will not, however, exceed the Islander’s maximum capacity of 119 passengers and three crew members.
The increase in vessel size became necessary to accommodate the same number of passengers after the U.S. Coast Guard increased its assumed average weight per person from 160 pounds to 185 pounds in 2012.
According to a news release from CTC, the nonprofit corporation carries more than 155,000 passengers annually, making almost 4,000 scheduled trips between the Stone Wharf on Chebeague Island and Cousins Island in Yarmouth, a distance of 1.7 miles.
“During its operating career, the Islander had logged almost enough miles to get to the moon and back,” CTC General Manager Carol Sabasteanski said in the release.
In addition to routine travelers, the ferry provides emergency rescues for the town and transports school children and law enforcement personnel.
“The Islander has been a workhorse for us, reliably serving the Chebeague community and visitors for many years,” CTC President John Rent said. “We look forward to a new boat with modern systems and state-of-the-art safety equipment.”
CTC sponsored a naming contest for the ferry hroughout the month of January, where 475 voters chose from a list of five potential names: Hamilton, Chebeaguer, Ambrose Hamilton, Islander II, and Independence.
The winning entry was submitted by Beth Dyer, a daily commuter from Chebeague who is associate dean of library services and a research and teaching librarian at the University of New England.
Dyer said she chose the name “to celebrate our independence as a town, not to mention our independence having our own transportation company.
“Chebeague becoming its own town (in 2007) was the biggest thing that happened to the island as a whole since the last ferry was built.”