Fanny Bay has a rather large visitor sitting in its waters these days.
That visitor is the Queen of Vancouver, which served on the BC Ferries route between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for about 45 years until it was retired and sold a few years ago.
Now, it’s being fixed up in Fanny Bay before being towed to a graving dock in Ensenada, Mexico, where it will be cut up for scrap metal, according to Doug Lotoski, who is overseeing the upgrades.
“We’re just finishing up the car deck,” said Lotoski, adding the work will ensure the vessel can make it through rough seas if need be. “It’ll hold anything in a hurricane.”
Although he noted an aggravation in the work when the ferry was broken into by vandals shortly after it arrived late last week, he said the upgrades are going well.
“Two weeks, it should be out of here, but in the meantime, I’ve got a lot of employees here that are working on it and making good money.”
Lotoski noted his client Roberto Curiel, who owns the graving dock in Ensenada, bought the vessel after it was repossessed from the person who originally bought it from BC Ferries.
“The ferry originally was sold to a person over in Vancouver for an undisclosed amount of money,” said Lotoski, adding the person had borrowed the money to buy the boat and then it sat in Howe Sound for about three years. “He had these grandeur plans to do something with it and sell it, but like a lot of things this big, people have great plans but when it comes down to actually doing it, it’s a lot of work and it’s a big expense.
“And then the person that actually put up the money to buy it demanded his payment because it was due, you know, a long time ago and well the guy didn’t have any money, so then he seized it legally, you know, through the courts and everything, seized it and then had a sale.”
Lotoski considered doing the work on the boat in Howe Sound but decided it was too far away and remote. Also, he lives in this area of the Island and wanted to be able to use his local staff and keep a close eye on the work.
And work for local people has increased since the improvements to the wharf were completed late last year, according to Maureen Nordstrom of the Fanny Bay Harbour Authority.
“It’s a really busy little place now that we’ve done the expansion of the harbour. The economic activity there is just incredible,” said Nordstrom. “The harbour had a big, almost $2-million expansion and what we did was put in a drive-on ramp and so what happens is you can get access to load and unload, you can drive a semi-truck trailer down there.
“I mean we were the little harbour that had nothing; it’s been some of the best money spent.”
As for the Queen of Vancouver, Lotoski said his tugboat should head up from San Diego soon, and then possibly even before the two weeks is up, the old ferry will leave the little bay.
Lotoski noted he was called to do the same job in the same situation about a year ago on the Queen of Esquimalt, which was renamed Princess Jacqueline. It sat in Port Alberni until it was resold to Curiel and readied for open seas before being towed down to Ensenada to be scrapped.