Amid a growing crisis of confidence among Islanders and summer travelers, the Steamship Authority marked two years of calamity this week with a website crash and the surprise announcement that its longest-serving board member, Island representative Marc Hanover, is stepping down.

The boat line’s website collapsed under overwhelming traffic Tuesday morning, minutes after the 5 a.m. opening for summer reservations.

Thousands of customers who set their alarms for the early-bird start were frustrated by the failure, which mirrors a crash at the beginning of the 2018 season that had the reservation site off line for close to 12 hours.

This year’s outage was shorter, but lasted well past noon, as visitors to the SSA site repeatedly encountered a message suggesting that they try again.

By mid-afternoon the site was back up, after a harrowing day for customers and SSA employees alike.

“This is obviously an unacceptable result on our biggest reservation day of the year, especially since we have now had issues in two of the most recent three years,” general manager Robert Davis told the boat line board of governors, who by coincidence were gathered for their monthly meeting in Falmouth Tuesday morning.

After the 2018 debacle, the SSA has staggered its Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard opening dates in order to manage website traffic and keep the site from crashing.

Nantucket’s opening earlier this month went smoothly, Mr. Davis said, but Vineyard travelers account for three to four times the volume of website traffic from the smaller island.

Mr. Davis apologized to customers and promised a full accounting of what went wrong.

Mr. Hanover’s announcement that he won’t seek reappointment came a day later, less than a week after he had said he intended to stand for a sixth term.

A recent business development accounted for his change of heart, Mr. Hanover told the Gazette Wednesday afternoon.

“It just seemed like the right time,” he said.

Mr. Hanover informed the Dukes County Commission of his decision by email Wednesday morning.

“I have decided not to seek reappointment . . . I have other commitments that are going to require more of my time and I feel that I would not have the time needed to represent you and the Island well,” he wrote in part.

“I thank you for your many years of support and feel that the Steamship Authority is now in a much better position to be successful in the future.

“It has been a privilege to serve you and the island of Martha’s Vineyard.”

County commissioners, who are the appointing authority for the boat line, have received letters of interest from four candidates seeking Mr. Hanover’s seat, with the application period open until Jan. 31 and interviews planned for Feb. 5.

The four candidates are James Malkin, a second-term Chilmark selectman and retired business executive with a background in transportation; Michael Lyons, an Oak Bluffs resident and truck driver who is a 2008 graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School; Allen Carney, a marketing and sales technology consultant who lives in Aquinnah; and Angela Cywinski, a Tisbury resident who formerly worked as the principal assessor in Aquinnah. In a statement issued Wednesday, Mr. Davis thanked Mr. Hanover for his service.

“On behalf of the entire Steamship Authority, I want to thank Marc for his years of service on the board. His hard work and contributions undoubtedly made us a stronger organization, and his presence will be missed. I look forward to welcoming a new representative,” the statement said in part.

Meanwhile, during their business meeting Tuesday, governors voted to issue up to $26 million in bonds, with proceeds to fund ongoing waterside construction at the Woods Hole terminal and repay $5.66 million in bonds issued in 2009 that will mature over the next few years.

Public bonding provides towns, school and utility districts and transit authorities with money for capital projects, such as buildings and boats, from investors who recoup their initial payments with interest over time.

Authorized by state law to issue bonds up to $100 million, the Steamship Authority currently has $73.45 million in outstanding bond obligations, treasurer/comptroller Mark Rozum told the board.

The SSA retires about $7.5 million in bond debt each year, with $7.52 million set to be retired March 1, Mr. Rozum said. That will reduce the outstanding balance to $65.93 million, leaving more head room for the $26 million in new bonds authorized Tuesday.

The Steamship Authority is solely responsible for its bond obligations, according to its 1960 enabling act, which also spells out how the boat line must handle its debt.

Revenues not needed for operations are required to be set aside in a series of funds: a sinking fund for interest and principal payments that can also be used for purchasing or redeeming bonds; a reserve fund equal to either five per cent of the outstanding bonds or $600,000, whichever is larger; and a replacement fund for depreciation, obsolescence and losses.

Bonds are secured by a trust agreement with a corporate trustee, in this case Unibank Fiscal Advisory Services Inc. of Whitinsville.

On Tuesday New Bedford governor Moira Tierney challenged the plan to come within $10 million of the boat line’s bond limit.

“What would we do if we wanted to build a boat right now?” she asked. “How would we finance it?”

“At this point, we’d be hard pressed to build a new boat,” Mr. Davis answered.

“We would have to go back [to the state legislature] and get an increased bonding limit.”

The last bond increase, from $75 million to $100 million, was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2014.

Mr. Davis said the Woods Hole — the SSA’s newest ferry, launched in 2016 — cost about $40 million.

Building the same boat today would cost at least $45 million, Mr. Davis said, because of evolving standards for engines and other vessel systems.

He said the first step toward adding a new ferry is to ascertain the need, which he said would be part of the upcoming capital budget process.

“We do 10-year projections,” Mr. Davis said.

The SSA’s last 10-year projection had set this year for design and engineering work toward its next new ferry, he also said.

“I’d be remiss in my responsibilities not to say that I am concerned,” Ms. Tierney said. “If we wanted to build a boat today, we really don’t have the financial wherewithal to do it.”

Also Tuesday, Mr. Davis said the recent elimination of longtime maintenance and engineering director Carl Walker’s position is a positive move, with the department coming under the authority of director of marine operations Mark Amundsen.

“I feel strongly that this change will not only begin the process of making the authority’s structure less flat . . . but also aid in communication in our operations department,” Mr. Davis said.

“The engineering staff and the vessel crews will be under the same command now,” he added.

He briefly mentioned Mr. Walker, whose 24-year career with the Steamship Authority ended abruptly earlier this month.

“I do want to take this time to thank him for his years of service,” Mr. Davis said.

Governors heard an update on work at the Woods Hole terminal, part of a sweeping reconstruction project that has swelled in cost to at least $10 million more than its original $60 million price tag.

Ms. Tierney balked at approving an $885,681 change order for BIA Studio, the Boston-based architects designing the terminal and its much-discussed ticket building.

“I don’t feel comfortable approving it,” she said of the firm’s bill.

“I think they need to participate a little bit more in taking a little bit of a haircut, as we have,” Ms. Tierney said, referring to rising costs that have added to the project’s expense over two years of revisions to the building design.

The board agreed to table the change order for a month and ask Mr. Davis to have the billing reviewed by a qualified third party.