‘Extremely busy’ sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen due to major vessel needing repairs

‘Extremely busy’ sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen due to major vessel needing repairs
Nicholas Pescod

People looking to travel from Victoria to Vancouver aboard a BC Ferries vessel may have been surprised by the lengthy waits on Thursday.

Sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen quickly filled up Thursday. By 10 a.m., BC Ferries was already ticketing for the 9 p.m. sailing departing from Victoria.

The busy conditions are largely due to the Spirit of Vancouver Island vessel being pulled from service for repairs.

The large vessel entered drydock on Tuesday evening for repairs to a ballast tank and is expected to finish its repairs on Oct. 15.

“We are extremely busy on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay run today,” said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for BC Ferries.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have an extra vessel available to provide supplemental service,” she said. “We do have two ships on the run but we just don’t have that third one.”

With the Spirit of Vancuover Island out of service, about 20 supplemental sailings that normally run between Oct. 10 and 15 are not sailing this week.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island is just one of two “Spirit” class ferries, the largest in BC Ferries’ fleet.

Marshall says that under normal circumstances, another vessel could offer relief sailings on the route. However, with the Coastal Renaissance ship also out of service for repairs, no supplemental sailings can be offered this week.

Two ferries in need of repair

The Coastal Renaissance ferry was first pulled from service on Aug. 16, after it experienced an issue with one of its drive motors.

It’s estimated return date has been pushed back several times since then.

“That ship should be back in service in mid-December, in time for the holiday season rush,” said Marshall.

“So unfortunately we do have two major vessels out of service right now, and we just don’t have the resiliency to press another vessel into service or supplemental service right now,” she said.

Marshall encourages travellers without vehicle reservations to walk on sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen this week.

Alternatively, the two routes that travel between Nanaimo and the mainland are operating as usual, Marshall says.

“We certainly apologize to our passengers for the overloads if they are experiencing [delays],” she said.


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