Passengers aboard a BC Ferries vessel from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo found themselves stranded at sea for hours Wednesday night after engine issues meant the ship had to be pulled home by tugboats.
The Queen of Oak Bay had 410 passengers and 319 vehicles on board at the time.
It left Horseshoe Bay just after 8 p.m. but partway through its journey it began to experience mechanical issues. BC Ferries said the issue was a hydraulic failure of the steering pump.
“As per our safety procedures, the vessel stopped on its approach to Departure Bay,” BC Ferries said in a statement. “The vessel required tug assistance to dock safely at Departure Bay. It arrived (at) approximately 1 a.m.”
The company said that the vessel’s sailings have now been cancelled but the Queen of Coquitlam is still servicing the route.
The Queen of Surrey is now moving to the Langdale run, freeing up the Queen of Coquitlam to get the schedule back on track on the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay route, BC Ferries said Thursday morning.
However, it is a busy time for BC Ferries just ahead of the long Easter weekend.
The company is already warning customers sailings may be delayed or cancelled due to staffing issues as a result of rising COVID-19 cases.
“While we are planning a full suite of extra sailings on the weekend, we have seen some occasions, isolated incidents over the past month or so where we have had to cancel service on short notice due to crew illness, and what we are finding right now, with the new variant, we are starting to see an increase in illness again,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said Wednesday.
The company is waiting for an update from its engineering department about the status of the Queen of Oak Bay.