December windstorms led to record ferry cancellations

Baileys for breakfast?

It may not be what the doctor ordered, but at least one islander skipped the evaporated milk and tried topping his morning porridge with Baileys Irish Cream this month after a series of cancelled ferries and container truck issues led to a dairy drought in Masset stores. Shelves got restocked with milk early last week.

Len Labossiere, general manager of the Haida Gwaii Co-op, said a rash of ferry cancellations in December was bad enough, but the shortage grew worse after one perishable-goods truck rolled over on an icy section of Highway 16 near Houston and another somehow got diesel fumes inside.

“It was like a perfect storm,” Labossiere said.

“We do realize where we’re at, and we only have so many ferries. It’s frustrating for us as a business because we do want to get that product to our members.”

Besides culinary creativity, the shortage underlined just how many windstorms have so far whipped Haida Gwaii and the whole B.C. coast this winter.

According to BC Ferries, last month set a record for December cancellations. With a total of 330 sailings cancelled across all BC Ferries routes due to bad weather, it blew the previous record of 220 cancellations right out of the water.

Deborah Marshall, a spokesperson for BC Ferries, said wind speed, wind direction, sea state and wave height are all factors in deciding whether to cancel a ferry sailing.

“It depends on the vessel, but wind speed can be around 35 knots when we would make the decision to cancel due to high winds,” she said.

With files from Jolene Rudisuela

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