The Steamship Authority had sharp increases in traffic on the Martha’s Vineyard route last month, with passenger trips rising nearly 26 per cent and vehicles more than 12 per cent over January 2022.

That’s an increase of more than 22,450 passenger rides and 3,500 vehicle trips above last January, a stormy month that saw 34 cancellations, SSA treasurer and comptroller Mark Rozum said this week.

“In 2023, we had no weather cancellations in January on the Martha’s Vineyard route,” Mr. Rozum told the SSA port council Tuesday morning.

The boat line ended 2022 about $7 million in the black, with operating revenues of $131 million for the year, according to unaudited figures Mr. Rozum presented at Tuesday’s meeting.

Automobile revenue on the SSA’s two routes made up 32 per cent of its income for the year, followed by freight with 29 per cent and foot passengers with 26 per cent.

Parking and terminal operations made up 11 per cent of annual revenue and rents 1 per cent. Miscellaneous transportation such as bicycles and mail also made up 1 per cent of the SSA’s net income last year, according to Mr. Rozum’s unaudited numbers.

Summer reservations for this year are looking strong, too. Despite technical problems that delayed customers’ access to the SSA website on the opening day for general reservations last month, general manager Robert Davis said nearly 11 per cent of spaces on the Vineyard route had been booked by Jan. 31.

But winter had its way with several Steamship Authority vessels over last weekend, forcing mechanical cancellations after an unprecedented cold snap sent temperatures plunging below zero Saturday.

“We have never seen these type of temperatures,” director of marine operations Mark Amundsen told the port council Tuesday.

The freeze tested the SSA fleet as it had never been tested before, he said. The heating systems on the vessels aren’t equipped to handle that temperature drop, approaching minus 10 degrees, for a substantial amount of time. Three ferries ended up breaking down before going back into service Sunday.

The M/V Martha’s Vineyard suffered frozen water lines despite insulation installed during its midlife refurbishment in 2018, Mr. Amundsen said.

“They were frozen solid,” he said.

Although the boat’s operating systems weren’t affected, portable bathrooms had to be loaded on board to meet U.S. Coast Guard sanitary requirements for passenger ferries.

On the M/V Katama, condensation froze inside pneumatic lines that run from the command bridge to the engine room. While SSA workers were able to dry out the lines, the Katama could not return to service until it was cleared by the Coast Guard.

The M/V Nantucket also needed Coast Guard approval to return to service after SSA maintenance crews repaired a burst water line in the escape chute for the marine evacuation system, a mandatory life-saving device.

The vessels’ crews remained on board during the cancellations, which Mr. Amundsen said is standard procedure for mechanical cancellations.

“You can’t leave a boat frozen up overnight,” he said. “They have to protect the asset.”