Passengers endured waits of up to five hours.
BC Ferries says the Queen of Burnaby will be back in service Friday morning, after another break down sent the 51-year-old vessel for repairs, touching off six days of long waits for people heading to and from Powell River.
For the third time in the past year, the ship experienced an oil leak in a propeller hub Saturday, causing BC Ferries to shuffle the smaller MV Island Sky from the Earl’s Cove-Saltery Bay run to cover both the Powell River-Comox route, and the Powell River-Texada Island run.
The Jervis Inlet trip was serviced by two even smaller vessels, leading to long delays and line-ups extending kilometres back from the Earl’s Cove terminal, with travelers reporting waits of four to five hours.
North Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee chair Kim Barton-Bridges says the situation was trying enough for experienced ferry travellers, but tourists struggled, with many people stuck without food and water, and little information about when they might finally sail.
BC Ferries spokesman Darin Guenette acknowledged the situation was difficult, and said the ferry corporation was taking lessons about how to improve contingency and communications plans in the event of another breakdown before the Queen of Burnaby’s replacement vessel, MV Salish Orca, is due to enter service in spring 2017.
BC NDP ferry critic Claire Trevena said the situation could have been avoided if BC Ferries hadn’t sold the Queen of Chilliwack to a Fijian company last year.
Guenette said the costs of keeping the Queen of Chilliwack ready as a back-up to the Queen of Burnaby were too high to continue to justify.
BC Ferries plans to add an additional sailing to the Queen of Burnaby’s Comox-Powell River schedule Saturday.