BC Ferries cancels Sunday sailings due to adverse weather conditions

BC Ferries cancels Sunday sailings due to adverse weather conditions
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

Amid the Easter travel rush, BC Ferries says adverse weather forced the company to cancel numerous sailings to and from Vancouver Island Sunday — including on its busiest route.

The 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. sailings departing Tsawwassen (Vancouver) and the 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. sailings from Swartz Bay (Victoria) are called off due to weather conditions, according to BC Ferries in a reissued service notice.

Near Sidney, long lines stretched from the terminal to the Pat Bay Highway, where many passengers had waited since 10:30 a.m. to hop aboard.

“So we’re just managing our nervous system as we can,” Paula Twamley told CHEK News from the departure line later in the afternoon.

Families looking to return home for the Easter holiday or meet up with loved ones say they were met with confusion as they waited in the rain for the next available sailing.

“We have a flight at eight in the morning from YVR to L.A., so I was wondering what our options are,” added Akemi Morris.

In another notice, BC Ferries says all MV Klitsa sailings are cancelled for the remainder of the day, beginning with the 4:45 p.m. departure from Brentwood Bay.

“Customers with a suitable vehicle may consider travelling via the Malahat Highway,” states the notice issued just before 4:30 p.m.

Strong winds to blame

The nixed sailings come as Environment Canada issues wind warnings for the Strait of Georgia, including south of Nanaimo where a strong wind warning is in effect and southeast winds up to 30 knots are forecast through Monday. North of Nanaimo, a gale warning has been issued as southeast winds up to 40 knots are expected.

BC Ferries says it’s actively monitoring the weather, and if conditions do not improve, more sailings may be at risk of cancellation.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is of primary importance to us. We apologize for any inconvenience as a result of these cancellations,” the company said in a notice.

“Our Customer Service Centre will contact customers with bookings on these cancelled sailings to let them know if we have space available to fit them on an alternate sailing later in the day, or if their booking must be cancelled.”

Ahead of the Easter long weekend, BC Ferries said it was expecting more than 400,000 passengers to travel via ferry between April 6-11.

In anticipation, it added around 180 extra sailings on Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and Sunshine Coast routes, and the company’s interim Vice President of People and Culture Dean Dobrinsky said they had “pulled out all the stops” amid a worker shortage.

Lack of crew up Island

While the weather initially impacted ferry service between Campbell River and Quadra Island (Quathiaski Cove), BC Ferries says the two-ship route’s schedule is now revised due to a crew shortage on the Island K’ulut’a.

“The Island Nagalis will continue to provide service on this route and will operate in shuttle mode until built-up traffic has been alleviated,” states a service notice issued around 3 p.m.

“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. The decision to cancel a sailing in these circumstances is made when we have exhausted all options to find replacement crew.”

BC Ferries’ online booking system also crashed early Sunday afternoon, but the company says the technical issue has since been resolved.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau
Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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