Inspired by the number of people stranded by recent mudslides, Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics has partnered with Ventura’s Island Packers Cruises to ferry stranded residents between the two cities.
The companies normally transport scuba divers and sightseers to Channel Islands National Park, but winter storms have closed portions of the park and cancelled tours. Truth Aquatics office manager Adam Waskewics said ferries will run daily at 7 and 10 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m., with one boat leaving from both Ventura and Santa Barbara harbors at each time. Waskewics said the ferries cost $35 per person and each boat holds 149 passengers.
Waskewics said Truth Aquatics began running ferries yesterday, and was swamped by requests for transport.
“We ran them all day [Tuesday],” he said. “It developed into quite a thing. The demand was overwhelming – close to 300 people showed up … we’re expecting about 1000 people [Wednesday].”
For the second day in a row, closed roads and freeways kept UCSB student commuters and university staff and faculty from reaching campus.
History professor Laura Kalman said she cancelled her Tuesday lecture on 20th century legal history because mudslides prevented her and her husband, religious studies professor W. Randall Garr, from returning to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. Kalman said she emailed her 125 students, many of whom commute from Southern California or Ventura, to inform them of the schedule change.
“I’m just hoping and praying I can get up on Thursday,” Kalman said, expressing her desire to make it back to campus for her Thursday lecture. “In fact, I was just checking Caltrans [for road condition updates] … I’m going to make it up somehow.”
Sabrina Smith, a third-year anthropology and Spanish major, said she was stranded in Los Angeles this week.
“I tried to drive up [Monday]; I woke up at 5 a.m.,” Smith said. “I made it to California Street in Ventura, [but] I was stuck there until 12:30 [p.m.]. I’m just waiting for the freeways to open.”
Smith said she has cancelled her plans of permanently moving to L.A. and commuting to UCSB because she has learned [that] driving conditions can be unpredictable.
“I have class Tuesday and Thursday, so I’ve missed a lot today,” she said. “It kinda sucks.”
Waskewics said his company’s ferries will operate until the mudslides are cleared.
“We’re planning on running every day ’til the freeway reopens,” he said. “Definitely Thursday, though Friday is a question mark until we get the latest and greatest from Caltrans.”
Waskewics said today’s 7 a.m. ferry was already booked as of last night. He said residents should contact the companies for reservations ahead of time. Truth Aquatics can be reached at 805-962-1127 and Island Packers at 805-642-1393. The companies also have Web sites at www.truthaquatics.com and www.islandpackers.com.
Truth Aquatics is located at the Sea Landing Office and Dive Shop in the Santa Barbara Harbor, and Island Packers is located at 1691 Spinnaker Dr. #105b in the Ventura Harbor.