Earls Cove ferry held to allow connections, ours should be too

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News Editor

Monday, May 6 2013

If there is one thing islanders are familiar with, it is BC Ferries using the phrase, “policy.”

See the story on the front page about how some Gabriolans en route from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay were left overnight in Nanaimo after failing to make it to Nanaimo Harbour in time to catch the Quinsam home.

BC Ferries staff says there is no established procedure in place to hold the Quinsam in dock if the Horseshoe Bay ferry is late arriving in Nanaimo. Anytime that has happened in the past, it has been at the discretion of the staff on shift at the time.

It’s reasonable to think that if the Quinsam was going to have to wait for a lengthy amount of time, say more than 20 minutes, it should probably head back to the island.

But this wasn’t 20 minutes. According to those who missed the boat, it would have had to wait less than five minutes.

And the boat from Horseshoe Bay has to be running really late for passengers to then miss the 11:30 pm departure out of Nanaimo. Final sailing from Horseshoe Bay is at 9 pm. Regular crossing time is 1.5 hours. Normal docking time is 10:30 pm. That gives a full hour cushion for getting to Nanaimo Harbour from Departure Bay.

There is a a route connection (Langdale and Earls Cove)where, if BC Ferries is at fault for the delay, the connection vessel will be held to allow passengers out of Horseshoe Bay to still get to Powell River. The explanation given for that procedure is, according to BC Ferries staff, “because that’s the last sailing that might get people home to Powell River.”

Last time anyone checked, most people on the final sailing to Gabriola are attempting to get home as well. If the policy of BC Ferries, with so many of their procedures, is to put in place one-size-fits-all procedures, the ‘hold connection if late’ one needs to be put in place on other routes, including Route 19 to Gabriola.