BAR HARBOR — The Cat ferry was delayed by four hours Thursday morning in leaving for Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, because police received a threat that a bomb was on board.

Passengers said they already had boarded the ferry with their vehicles for the planned 8 a.m. departure when they were told they had to drive off again. Bar Harbor police said they believe the threat, received in a 911 phone call at about 7:21 a.m., originated in Bar Harbor.

Besides local police, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Maine Marine Patrol and Maine State Police responded to the threat.

All passengers and their vehicles were taken off the boat, with the vehicles parked behind a closed gate next to the ferry terminal. Passengers were allowed to stay with their vehicles — and many of them did — in the enclosed parking lot as state police officers searched each vehicle with explosive-sniffing dogs. The state police bomb squad also searched the ship.

“No explosives or suspicious objects were found,” the Coast Guard indicated in a press release. No injuries were reported.

Two Coast Guard vessels patrolled the shore and then escorted the Cat out to sea when it left around noon.

Jack Muth, 67, of Timonium, Md., was among a small group of motorcyclists who had just driven their bikes on board when the threat was reported. While the ferry and passenger vehicles were still being searched Thursday morning, he and the others sat at a picnic table in the shade at the edge of the fenced-in parking area.

Muth said the threat likely would not affect his plans in Canada, but that he was hoping to get to Halifax, Nova Scotia, before it got dark around 7 p.m.

“I’ve never been to Nova Scotia, so I’d like to see it [in the daylight],” he said.

“[The police and ferry staff] are doing their best,” Muth said, adding, “When you ride a motorcycle, you have to be flexible.”

Police cleared the scene around 11 a.m., allowing the 324 passengers and their vehicles to reboard the ferry and depart for the three-hour journey to Yarmouth. The ferry left a few minutes after noon, according to ferry officials.

George Driscoll, an official with Bay Ferries Ltd., the company that owns and operates the Cat, said the company was hoping to have a quick turn-around in Yarmouth so that the Cat could travel Thursday evening back to Portland, as the ferry had been scheduled to do before the threat was made. The Bay Ferries vice president for marketing and sales said people traveling from Yarmouth to Portland would not be delayed as long as the morning trip had been.

Driscoll said it was the first time he could recall that there had been a bomb threat against the Cat in Bar Harbor.

According to the Bar Harbor Police Department, the case remains under investigation. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Bar Harbor police at 288-3391.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....