Ferry passengers back on land after being stranded off Swartz Bay for more than four hours

A mechanical problem on a ferry bound for Swartz Bay stranded 85 ferry passengers just off the dock for more than four hours Thursday.

The Salish Raven left Pender Island at 9:10 a.m. and experienced a problem with one of two thrusters, which propel the ship, said B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall.

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Marshall said the vessel could manoeuvre with a single thruster, but safety procedures require a tug to assist with docking if two functioning thrusters are not available.

“We certainly apologize to those customers who have been on board for several hours,” Marshall said, adding passengers were provided complimentary food and drinks.

All foot and vehicle passengers were off the ferry by about 1:30 p.m., after a tugboat arrived to help the ship dock.

“About 15 minutes into the trip you could hear something shut off and we were just kind of floating,” passenger Lisa Prat told CHEK News. She was travelling to Royal Jubilee Hospital for a medical appointment that was set up two months ago. “I had to phone and explain I’m floating on a boat out here.”

Fiona Nay, from Kaslo, was aiming to board the 4 p.m. sailing of the Coho ferry. “I think we’re supposed to be through immigration at around 2 p.m. so it looks like I’m going to miss that trip,” she said.

Three Salish Raven sailings were cancelled. The MV Mayne Queen was tapped to provide a round trip between Swartz Bay and Otter Bay on Pender Island, leaving Swartz Bay at 1:30 p.m.

The Salish Raven resumed sailing with a 4:20 p.m. departure from Swartz Bay.

The vessel, built in 2016, has been in service for 30 months.

It is one of three Polish-built ferries brought into service in 2017 by B.C. Ferries.

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