Islander's final destination remains uncertain

Bidding on eBay for the former Steamship Authority (SSA) ferry Islander began at $10 on February 13 and ended at 9 am, Monday. The final, winning bid was $23,600.

The new owner of the ferry that served the Vineyard route for 57 years is Don Slovak, a farmer and trucker from the town of Valatie, N. Y., just east of the Hudson River and about 15 miles south of Albany.

It was no sentimental purchase. Mr. Slovak, who owns a 100-acre farm where he raises fruits and vegetables and an auto transport business, has never seen the ferry up close. In a telephone conversation with The Martha's Vineyard Times he said he has also never visited the Island, but added, "I was told it's pretty nice."

Instead, he liked what he saw and read on eBay and decided to speculate and see what happens. Given the price and the downward slide of the stock market, it may turn out to be a good investment, he hopes. "I thought it was just salvage when I originally read the report" said Mr. Slovak. "But there's a lot of good stuff on the boat, and I've got some interest from people in other countries."

He said he has a few weeks to move the ferry. The engines and generators are still in working condition and would allow him to move it up the Hudson River once the ice melts.

Asked if he liked boats, Mr. Slovak said he has had a few but never had the time to do much with them. "This is definitely the biggest boat I've ever owned," he said.

The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), the corporation responsible for Governors Island in New York City, purchased the 770-passenger, half-century-old ferry for $500,000 in July 2007. GIPEC put the ferry on the Internet auction block rather than pay millions for needed maintenance.

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