All Denman to Buckley Bay sailings cancelled for mechanical issues

All Denman to Buckley Bay sailings cancelled for mechanical issues
The Baynes Sound Connector being repaired on May 2, 2024

A mechanical difficulty with the cable system has led to the cancellation of all of the sailings between Denman Island West and Buckley Bay on Thursday.

The company updated their website at 2:44 p.m. stating: “Due to complications during replacement of the vessel’s cable system, the following sailings between Buckley Bay – Denman Island West for today, Thursday, May 2 have been cancelled.”

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Cables are pictured on May 2, 2024.

In a statement to CHEK News, BC Ferries says they had some early morning complications during the replacement of the cable on the Baynes Sound Connector ferry. The company says it typically schedules regular cable change work overnight in order to minimize impact to customers, but it experienced overnight complications that led to Thursday’s ferry cancellations.

The mechanical mishap is a major disruption for those on Denman and Hornby Islands.

“Missed medical procedures, emergencies of people trying to get into town. The high school kids of course can’t get into school. Teachers that service our elementary schools if they don’t live here and come from off island, they can’t get here for the elementary school,” said Karen Ross, chair of the Denman & Hornby Islands Ferry Advisory Committee.

For one Denman resident, the timing couldn’t be worse. Her brother who’s fighting cancer had BC Ambulance take him to hospital on Wednesday.

“He was to stay at the hospital but the CT scanner was broken so they agreed to let him go home for the night on the condition he came back today to get his CT scan done and to check him out again, and now we’re stuck here, so it’s pretty upsetting,” said Gracie MacDonald.

To help customers with transportation, BC Ferries will continue service on the Shingle Spit – Gravelly Bay route that began providing temporary shuttle service at 11:30 a.m. Thursday from Denman Island West to Buckley Bay.

The company also said they are looking at options for a water taxi service for foot passengers between Buckley Bay and Denman Island West.

“We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience you may experience as a result of these cancellations,” BC Ferries said in a notice.

The Region’s MLA, Josie Osbourne, posted on social media that “…this is one of the worst performing routes in the entire system…” and that she would “…continue to advocate for improvements…”

Ross says the cable ferry has proven unreliable and it’s time for it to go.

“It’s just been an embarrassment. It doesn’t withstand the weather, it can’t shuttle, it can’t provide the lift off that the previous ferry provided, so it’s been there for eight years on our run and it just leaves the citizens really unhappy,” said Ross.

The cable ferry to Denman Island has seen mechanical issues over the years including in July of 2022.

BC Ferries says the reliability of the Baynes Sound Connector has been improving.

“We made some real improvements I think over the last year, where we’ve seen some significant decreases in the number of cancellations, particularly related to mechanical issues that we’ve had on the Baynes Sound Connector. We’re just going to keep work at it to make sure that we continue to reduce those as much as possible,” said Jeff Groot, BC Ferries’ executive director of communications.

MacDonald did find someone to take her brother on a boat to Vancouver Island before he was driven to hospital where, sadly, he died. His sister says, while she doesn’t believe the cancelled ferries contributed to his death, the cancelled ferries made his final day more difficult.

Tchadas LeoTchadas Leo
Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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