Staffing issues, cold weather hamper Salt Spring ferry sailings

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Salt Spring Island ferry sailings were cancelled Wednesday night due to staffing issues and delayed Thursday because of cold weather-related mechanical issues.

On Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. BC Ferries announced that the final two round trips between Fulford Harbour and Swartz Bay would be cancelled due to a crewing issue. 

The Driftwood asked BC Ferries what the reason for the crewing issue was, yet no further details were provided.

“We require a specific number of crew members on board the vessel to ensure the safety of our passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency and to comply with Transport Canada regulations,” communications manager Astrid Chang stated by email. 

One Salt Spring Island parent, who tweeted to BC Ferries, wondered how her children, who were walk-on passengers, would make it home. When the Crofton-Vesuvius Bay route was suggested as an alternate, she replied, “So are you providing transportation ? How are my teenagers with no car supposed to get to there?”

Chang said BC Ferries was unable to secure a water taxi service Wednesday night. 

Sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay were also cancelled Thursday due to a weather-related staffing issue, including the noon and 4 p.m. runs from Tsawwassen and the 2 and 6 p.m. departures from Swartz Bay. 

BC Ferries stated that customers with bookings whose sailings were cancelled would have reservation fees refunded, with travel instead going into a standby basis. 

Chang reminded anyone who needs help with their ferry travel to speak with BC Ferries.

“Our staff are ready to help, and requests for compensation are reviewed on a case by case basis,” she stated.  

The Vesuvius to Crofton route was hampered by a mechanical difficulty caused by cold weather Thursday morning. The Quinitsa was being held at Vesuvius due to a temporary issue with its rescue boat, BC Ferries stated at 6:29 a.m. At 7:30 the boat was sailing again, 23 minutes behind schedule. Weather in the early morning on Salt Spring included snowfall and a temperature of minus 2 degrees Celsius.

Other sailings in the network were delayed or cancelled due to snow removal, as well as issues with equipment including frozen throttle lines. One northern route cancelled two sailings as weather hampered flights that delayed a crew change. The Campbell River to Quadra Island route had two early morning sailings cancelled due to a burst water line. 

To view up-to-the-minute information on ferry delays and cancellations, visit BC Ferries’ Twitter page, website or call 1-888-223-3779. 

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