Despite the loss of the Queen of the North earlier this year, BC Ferry Services Inc. is sailing through smooth financial waters. The company reports net earnings of $68.9-million for the three-month period ended Sept. 30, up from $61.2-million for the same period last year. For the six-month period ended Sept. 30, the picture is even rosier. Buoyed by an extraordinary gain of $61-million, the insurance proceeds from the sunken ferry, BC Ferries reports net earnings of $145.1-million for the first half of its financial year. That's a 92-percent increase over net earnings of $75.6-million in the same period last year. The ferry service fees which BC Ferries receives from the provincial government were not affected by the sinking. The company received almost exactly the same amount from the province for service between April and October as it did last year, according to its financial statements. Chief executive David Hahn said BC Ferries is using the earnings to buy new ships and renovate terminals and infrastructure. For the first six months of this financial year, he said, BC Ferries spent $44-million in vessel upgrades and modifications, including a $5-million down-payment on the Sonia, the vessel which will replace the QN; $11-million in marine structures, $4-million in terminal and building upgrades; and $2-million in software development to help with customer service, retail and food management, and crew scheduling.