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B.C. Ferries and new rival Hullo each suffer technical problems

B.C. Ferries’ Coastal Renaissance pulled from service as Hullo records more cancellations
The Hullo ferry vessels Spuhels and Sthuqi at dock in Nanaimo in this undated photo provided by the Vancouver Island Ferry Company.

The new Hullo foot-passenger ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver took on passengers Thursday as B.C. Ferries announced its Coastal Renaissance had been pulled from service for several weeks due to a problem with a drive motor.

Hullo has had challenges of its own this week. On Wednesday, the first official day of service, the company cancelled its final two afternoon sailings because of what it said was a technical issue.

All four sailings ran smoothly Thursday, a company official said.

Hullo ferries gives passengers another option if they worry they will face longer lineups without Coastal Renaissance on the Nanaimo Duke Point-Tsawwassen route.

Smaller replacement vessels will be filling in during peak tourist season as the Labour Day weekend approaches.

It is too soon to say if bookings are increasing now that Coastal Renaissance is not running, Alastair Caddick, chief executive of Hullo, said Thursday.

Renaissance can carry 1,604 passengers and crew, as well as 310 vehicles. Each of the two Hullo ferries can carry up to 354 passengers but the company is keeping numbers below that for the next couple of weeks at least as it eases into the new service.

Hullo’s initial launch on Monday was delayed. Stormy weather and a power outage prompted Hullo to keep its vessels at dock on Monday and Tuesday.

Hullo officially began sailings on Wednesday when its ferries left Nanaimo at 10 a.m. and Vancouver at noon.

But the company cancelled its final two sailings on Wednesday — the 4 p.m. out of Nanaimo and the 6:30 p.m. out of Vancouver.

Caddick would not reveal details about the technical problem. “I don’t think we need to go deeper than that,” he said.

The company has talked to Damen, the builder of the vessels, he said.

“Early issues are very common as you get up and going with a new vessel,” Caddick said. “So it is nothing that shouldn’t be expected as you launch a new service with a new vessel in new waters. We quickly resolved the issue.”

There was no public announcement on the company’s website or social media that sailings were cancelled. Caddick said the company has email addresses for booked passengers and communicated directly with them.

Hullo ferries are running on a pared-down schedule until Aug. 31.

The goal is to double the number of sailings next month, Caddick said.

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