Strong winds force cancellation of 25 ferries in 1 day
VICTORIA - Strong winds forced 25 BC Ferries sailings to be cancelled on Friday and caused massive lineups on Saturday.
Travellers told CTV News Vancouver Island there was almost a two-kilometre line-up of vehicles at Swartz Bay at 6 a.m. on Saturday, with people trying to get off Vancouver Island.
BC Ferries executive director Deborah Marshall said the bulk of the cancelled ferry sailings were on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route.
“We had to cancel sailings for safety reasons due to high winds,” said Marshall. “In the straight, we saw winds in excess of 40 knots and it makes it very challenging to dock or undock at our Tsawwassen terminal.”
One ferry on Friday night tried to make the trip but had to turn around.
“The Spirit of Vancouver Island did try to service our customers form Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen at 7:40 last night," Marshall said. "The vessel did end up turning around and going back to Swartz Bay. It was quite a rough evening out there.”
Many travelers took to social media to express their frustration, with some saying they had to sleep in their vehicles overnight.
One traveler arrived at the Tsawwassen terminal at 2 p.m. for her 5 p.m. ferry to return home to Victoria.
“After nine hours of waiting, they directed us out of the terminal with no explanation,” said Jen Jones. “No one said anything. All hotels were booked. Tried to sleep in my freezing car.”
She spent 19 hours at the terminal and finally got back to Victoria on Saturday at noon.
"Hopefully they will do better in the future," Jones said. "It was a very stressful time."
Marshall said extra sailings have been added on Saturday to help with the backlog of traffic.
“There was pent-up demand from yesterday; we do expect that to taper off through the afternoon,” she said.
The Spirit of Vancouver Island was operating 45 minutes behind schedule on Saturday afternoon and there was a two-sailing wait earlier in the morning.
Anyone who had a reservation for a sailing that was cancelled due to weather should have been refunded immediately.