Because of the currently very low water level in Rohuküla, the Hiiumaa ferry is temporarily running an alternative route between Heltermaa on the island and Virtsu on the mainland.
Ferry Tiiu ran the temporary route for the first time in the night to Friday, arriving in Virtsu a little after 12:30 a.m. The ferry had left Heltermaa at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday evening.
The trip that would typically take about two and a half hours took longer because of the low water level, the fact that no ships this size typically travel that route, and because of sea ice in the area.
Tiiu's captain, Arvo Suurhans, told ERR that the ice hadn't been a problem, but that they had to wait at the end of their journey to let another ferry headed to Kuivastu on Saaremaa, Piret, leave the harbor of Virtsu.
"The distance is about 27 nautical miles, that's 50 kilometers to a landlubber," the captain said. "If there's no ice, the distance can be done in two, two and a half hours."
According to Hiiumaa mayor Aivar Viidik, the temporary connection is very important, as it guarantees a stable flow of goods between the island and the Estonian mainland. He stressed the importance as well to regularly dredge the so-called Rukki shipping channel between Rohuküla and Heltermaa to also allow ferries to pass through when the water level is low.
"We'd need some clear regulation that in the case the channel fills up it's dredged regularly," Viidik said. "The water level can fluctuate no matter the season."
The Maritime Administration is currently looking into the conditions of dredging the channel in order to prepare a tender, with works to start in the second half of the summer.
Editor: Dario Cavegn