Two-ship trial to be conducted on Gabriola this week

Sounder News

Wednesday, February 3 2021

Gabriolans will have the opportunity this coming week to ride as passengers on the Island Aurora, as BC Ferries conducts an operational study on the Gabriola ferry route.

The Aurora is a sibling ship to the two Island-class ships which are scheduled to replace the Quinsam on the Gabriola route in 2022. The Quinsam is scheduled to then be assigned to Salt Spring Island’s Vesuvius-Crofton route.

According to a service notice issued this past weekend, the Aurora will sail on the Gabriola Island – Nanaimo Harbour route for an operational trial on February 6, 7 and 8. 

On February 6, the Aurora will sail on the route while performing operational exercises. The vessel will not carry passengers or vehicles during this time. 

On February 7 and 8, customers travelling for essential reasons may sail aboard the Island Aurora and regular fares will apply - as will standard COVID-19 protocols. 

The Aurora will sail in conjunction with the Quinsam, which will operate on its regular schedule during the trial.

In June of 2020, the first two ships of the Island Class entered service, with the Island Discovery assigned to the Powell River – Texada Island route, and the Island Aurora will serving the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula route.

BC Ferries says the trial on the Gabriola route will lead to learnings regarding operational efficiencies, loading times and sailing intervals. 

“BC Ferries will use this information to work with the community on sailing schedules during community engagement scheduled for later this Spring.”

As of press time, the specific sailing times for the Aurora for Feb. 7 and 8 had not been announced - BC Ferries staff said those times will be posted to the BC Ferries web site closer to the actual dates.