Several ferry sailings on major routes were cancelled and thousands of islanders were left in the dark as powerful winds lashed B.C.'s South Coast Monday morning.

BC Ferries cancelled all sailings between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the high-traffic Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route due to the winds. Sailings were expected to resume at both terminals at 3 p.m.

A mechanical issue unrelated to the wind caused the Queen of Coquitlam ferry on the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route to break down with passengers aboard.

The ferry eventually returned to the Departure Bay terminal under its own power, and all passengers were refunded and put on another sailing out of Departure Bay.

The breakdown caused all sailings between Duke Point and Tsawwassen to be cancelled up to and including the 12:45 p.m. sailings.

Other sailings were delayed due to weather, including the southern Gulf Islands routes and the Comox-Powell River sailing.

The cancellations came after Environment Canada issued wind warnings for western, inland and eastern Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands and the Lower Mainland.

The intense low pressure system was expected to bring winds of up to 80 kilometres an hour over exposed coastal sections, but Environment Canada said the winds would ease later in the afternoon.

Gusts also toppled trees onto power lines on Vancouver Island, leaving more than 2,000 people without power on the South Island and more than 5,000 in the dark on the North Island.