JUNEAU (AP) -- Ferry riders sometimes play cards to pass the time. This weekend, 40 bridge players rode the ferry just to play cards.
It was the 25th year for the floating tournament, which took over the secondary dining room on the Kennicott, spreading cards across the small tables for four days.
The annual tournament started in 1976 when a group of Juneau bridge players hopped a ferry and played through the night until the vessel docked back in Juneau again, said organizer Barbara Keller.
This year the tournament stretched from Thursday, when players boarded in Ketchikan, until Sunday, when it returned. Along the way, players had time to sleep and play nine rounds of bridge. New players got on at Juneau, Haines and Skagway.
''It's a good way for all the (Southeast bridge) unit to gather, especially now, because we can get on all these different points on the trip,'' Keller said.
Players come from farther afield too, flying in from Anchorage, Seattle and the Midwest.
''This one is unique,'' said Margo Putnam, who comes up from Seattle each year to direct the tournament.
As an American Contract Bridge League tournament director for 30 years, Putnam has officiated at hundreds of tournaments, usually in hotels or convention centers. The Southeast ferry tournament is one of her favorites.
''Up here, you are sailing up the Inland Passage with windows all the way around just like you could reach out and touch the land,'' Putnam said. ''If you're lucky you could see a whale or porpoises or an eagle.''
When something is spotted, everyone lays down their cards and takes a break to watch the wildlife.
The tournament took on a party mood Friday night as people shared smoked salmon and other Alaska goodies.
The event is more laid-back than others Putnam directs, which often have more than 500 players. At the larger tournaments Putnam usually has to resolve disputes over rules, but seldom on the ferry.
''Everybody has a good time and they laugh and nobody's worried about somebody cheating or signaling,'' Putnam said. ''There's none of that.''
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