The newly-implemented Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry broke down this morning on its way to Denman Island from Buckley Bay due to a failure with its hydraulic system.
Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall says a failed o-ring caused the ferry to break down with 25 people aboard.
The ferry was towed back to Buckley Bay by a terminal work boat, where passengers disembarked along with their vehicles.
She adds a crew of terminal maintenance engineers from Little River worked on the vessel, and Friday afternoon around 2:45 p.m., the ferry was returned to service.
A water taxi was used in the meantime to shuttle passengers between the terminals. The Quinitsa – the previous ferry for the route, which was used as a standby service during the crossover period – is being used elsewhere.
Graeme Johnston, provincial president of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union says they believe the failure of the ferry highlights the need for certificated engineering personnel on the vessel while it is in operation.
“Unlike every other ferry operated by BC Ferries, there is no personnel onboard the cable ferry certified to carry out work in machine spaces. Routine maintenance performed by engineers assigned to the vessel can help prevent breakdowns like the one we saw today,” he explains in an email to The Record.
He says having an engineer onboard the Baynes Sound Connector may have prevented an inconvenience to those travelling between Hornby/Denman/Buckley Bay Friday while reducing or eliminating the additional repair costs and time associated with bringing in a maintenance crew from Comox.
The $15-million, 78.5 metre cable ferry began service late January with ‘soft sailings’ and regular sailings in February. It is capable of carrying 50 vehicles and 150 passengers, and with a crossing of about 1,900 meters, it is believed to be the longest cable ferry in the world.
While the ferry has met the corporation’s expectations, some Island residents continue to raise concerns over its dependability.