Northern Adventure to head to Rupert Saturday

  • Jan. 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Islanders started the new year with yet another suspension of ferry service, with the Northern Adventure stalled in Bella Bella after contaminated oil was mistakenly added to the main engine tanks on Jan. 2. By Friday afternoon (Jan. 4), BC Ferries announced that clean oil was on its way to the stricken vessel and that it would be heading to Prince Rupert sometime Saturday. The ferry was expected to leave Rupert for the Charlottes someday late Saturday night (Jan. 5), weather depending. If the ferry does arrive on Jan. 6, it will be the first time islanders have seen the Northern Adventure since 2007. Its scheduled Jan. 1 arrival at the Skidegate terminal and departure were cancelled due to bad weather, and the Jan. 3 arrival and departure was cancelled because it was in Bella Bella. The service suspension left many islanders stuck in Prince Rupert, and visitors stuck on the islands. Tlell residents Kris and Ralph Leach, who left the islands on Dec. 31 for what they had planned would be a three-day trip, didn’t realize anything was wrong until they arrived at the Prince Rupert terminal Thursday and didn’t see the ferry. Terminal staff explained what had happened, and the Leaches found a room at a bed and breakfast. Ms Leach said there were several other stranded islanders staying there. “I’m actually really lucky,” she said. “I’m fortunate in a way, because I have Visa. I’m just thinking about people who have no access to cash.” BC Ferries did not offer to pay for accommodation, Ms Leach said, but told them they could submit their receipts and may be compensated later, with BC Ferries deciding on the merits of each individual case. MLA Gary Coons said he has been receiving calls from many stranded passengers who were upset about the lack of information from BC Ferries. “I’ve had calls from people trying to get to the Charlottes and they can’t get any information,” he said. “Some people are lucky enough to have a place to stay because they have family, but some people are returning from holidays and have no money.” Mr. Coons said he was hearing “major concern, confusion and anger” about the situation. He said islanders and other passengers have been let down by BC Ferries and that it was time for the government to step in and play a bigger role. “Again, it’s a real tough one but number one, I would think that this is a result of the privatization of our marine highway,” he said. Meanwhile, Ms Leach said she was making the best of her unexpected extra few days on the mainland. “I said on Wednesday, oh, I’m really not ready to go home,” she said with a laugh. “You have to be careful what you wish for.” She also suggested that BC Ferries freeze ferry fares for islanders in recognition of all the delays and service suspensions we experience.