Colorado couple stranded on Alaska island by ferry boat workers strike

Posted at 2:48 AM, Jul 27, 2019

DENVER -- Two Colorado teachers are stranded on a remote island in Southeastern Alaska, because of a strike by ferry boat workers.

Sara Newman and Andrew Carroll love to travel.

They said they had planned this trip for months, as a combination vacation and honeymoon.

The couple, who got married in September, drove up to the 49th State, via the Alaska Highway.

It took them a week to get there.

Newman said the trip is also part of her doctoral research.

"I got a grant from the National Science Foundation, so this has been four years in the making," she said.

The couple told Denver7 that along the way, they saw a herd of caribou migrating north, and then went backpacking in the area around Denali.

As they made their way down the inside passage, they traversed the state-owned Alaska Marine Highway, a.k.a. the state ferry system.

When they arrived at port in Ketchikan, members of the InlandBoatmen's Union, went on strike, their first in 40 years.

"We’re stranded on a rural Alaska island but everyone’s been incredibly friendly," Newman said. "We really support the marine highway workers because they’ve been trying to negotiate for the past three years."

Now, the couple is working on getting from Ketchikan back to Seattle.

Since they can't travel with their car on a ferry boat, they plan to put it on a barge.

"We’re lucky there’s a barge leaving tomorrow," Newman said. "We were able to put our car with a bunch of other people also stranded by the Ferry, on the barge to Seattle… it’s unclear as to when that car or barge is really going to be able to dock in Seattle."

She said they'll fly to Seattle on Monday and will hang out there until the barge arrives.

"We’re lucky that we’re both teachers," she said, "so we have a little bit of flexibility as to when we’re going to be able to get back."

That's apparently not the case with some of the other passengers.

"There was a gentleman on dialysis, a lot of other people who...have really pressing things to get back to," she said.

Amazingly, the Colorado couple isn't stressed out.

They say they've really enjoyed their trip up north and are just looking at the late travel difficulties as one additional memory.