Ferrygoers travelling between Campbell River and Quadra Island will soon see extra sailings between the two destinations with the introduction of new hybrid-electric vessels, according to BC Ferries.
Two Island Class vessels, called Island Nagalis and Island K’ulut’a, are set to replace the MV Powell River Queen on Jan. 18, increasing passenger capacity and delivering more round-trip service from 18 trips to up to 29 per day.
“One of the vessels will provide 18 hours of service. Departure times from each terminal will be close to what is in place today to support established travel patterns. The second vessel will operate during the busiest 12-hour period of the day,” said BC Ferries in a release.
The company says the new vessels are fitted with hybrid technology from the exterior details to the engine, helping to reduce underwater radiated noise, lower emissions and improve customer service.
Island Class ferries can carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew and also feature wide vehicle lanes, dedicated pedestrian paths and bicycle parking spaces, plus customer lounges and sundecks.
“Our new Island Class ferries are built to handle rough seas and stormy conditions, even on the Campbell River — Quadra Island route where we tend to experience some of the roughest conditions and strongest currents,” states a post on the BC Ferries website.
The updated ferry schedule, meanwhile, was developed in consultation with the community and the Campbell River — Quadra Island — Cortes Island Ferry Advisory Committee through a public engagement process in spring 2021, when participants highlighted the importance of adding sailings as close to every hour and half-hour as possible.
The new schedule is posted online.
The battery hybrid vessels, six in total, are also being deployed on various other ferry routes, including Port McNeill to Alert Bay and Sointula, Powell River to Texada, and Nanaimo Harbour to Gabriola Island.
“BC Ferries also recognizes the significant efforts of the local crew in bringing two-ship service to the route by participating in training, trials, and preparations for the new service, and wishes to thank them for their continued dedication,” the company added.
Powell River Queen up for auction
The outgoing MV Powell River Queen, built in 1965, is listed for sale on IronPlanet, with the highest bid at $82,000.
“What that means is that the Powell River Queen will be surplused to our needs, and that vessel is currently for sale. It will be available for a new owner when the new ships come into operation,” Deborah Mashall, spokesperson for BC Ferries, told CHEK News last fall.
Marshall says in the past, the company has sold its vessels to logging operators or other transportation companies.
Honouring the vessel
A farewell event is also planned for the MV Powell River Queen on its last day of service, Jan. 17, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. on board and at the Quathiaski Cove terminal on Quadra Island, where employees, past and present, and the community are invited to say their goodbyes.
“She’s ferried generations of islanders, charging bluster and swells; so many memories aboard this ship,” said Robyn Mawhinney, director for Area C in Strathcona Regional District, in a Facebook post.
The vessel’s final sailings include a departure from Quathiaski Cove at 5:50 p.m. and Campbell River at 6:15 p.m. before the Island Nagalis completes the remaining sailings for the evening, according to BC Ferries in a notice.
Adam Lewis, a local artist from Quadra Island, also took to social media to express his fond memories on board the outgoing vessel and, to ensure its legacy lives on, has created and is selling a graphic print.
“A whole heap of memories had by local islanders and fond visitors. Some caught the ferry and never really left…some caught it and left a piece of their heart on our island,” wrote Lewis.
“I’ve heard many locals say, ‘if those walls could talk.’ So many memories, so many bonds formed on this ferry.”
The print measures 11×14 inches, costs $80 and there are only 100 available, so Lewis encourages those interested in purchasing one to reach out via Facebook before they’re all gone.