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Windy day makes for harrowing ride on San Juan Islands ferry

A large wave strikes a Washington State ferry as it traveled from Friday Harbor to Anacortes on Nov. 19, 2017 (Photo: Jeremy Ridgway)

ANACORTES, Wash. (KOMO) -- Sunday was another windy day in the North Sound, and it made for a bit of a white-knuckle ferry ride from the San Juan Islands.

Jeremy Ridgway was on the 11:05 a.m. run from Friday Harbor heading toward Anacortes when the seas became heavy as winds gusted between 45-55 mph.

"We had been up top and it was rocking back and forth quite at bit," Ridgway said. "We decided to go back own and was just sitting in the car and saw the spray coming over the front."

Ridgway decided to begin filming the spray, and that's when two large waves hit the front of the ferry. The force shoved the car in the middle of the front row back into the car behind it, which in turn struck the car behind them, causing minor damage. Meanwhile, the SUV in front of Ridgway was also pushed back about three feet -- and just barely missed hitting his car.

"It was a close call -- it was really super thin," Ridgway said of the distance between his car and the one in front. "Couldn't fit fingers between our cars."

(Warning: Some off-color language in the video)

Ridgway credited the ferry staff for helping keep everyone safe during the rough ride.

"The whole time this was going on they said on the announcements if you're upstairs stay seated, if down in your car, stay in car," Ridgway said. The two waves were the only two big waves he saw and once everything calmed down, ferry staff were on hand to make sure everyone was OK and began taking photos of the damage and writing up accident reports.

He said they had taken precautions by not filling what normally would have been the front row of the car deck.

"I grew up on Whidbey Island and have been taking ferries since I was 9 years old," he said. "(I've) never seen waves like that."

It's not the first time waves have crashed over the car deck on the San Juan Islands ferry.

Check out this video from a windstorm in March, 2016, filmed by Shari Ray:

And then even last week, the ferry captain on the Keystone-Port Townsend run made some deft moves to get in and out of port during 50-60 mph winds there as well:

Sunday's storm knocked out power to a few thousand people as winds gusted as high as 59 mph in spots. Here's the view at the Keystone Ferry Dock then:



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