As per BC Ferries service notice, all sailings on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route have been cancelled tonight, June 25, starting with the 5:40 pm Gabriola Island departure until the end of the day. This is due to a crewing issue.
First off, the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee would like to offer a giant thank you to the Gabriola and Nanaimo ship and shore crews who so consistently go above and beyond to keep our boats running. You are all so appreciated.
The FAC has received the following message from BC Ferries regarding their current crewing and hiring situation.
A dedicated recruiting team have been working tirelessly to bring the right people into the right roles at BC Ferries. They have been seeking qualified people to fill open positions, and to foster relationships with other potential candidates who may be suitable hires in the future.
Since January, we’ve hired more than 850 people – about 500 of those are seasonal and/or casual employees. In spite of these additions we still have approximately 160 ship based vacancies to fill. These key vacancies have been and are the ones with the most impact on our ability to sail.
Currently, the number of qualified licensed mariners in senior categories being hired is similar to the number of retirements.
We have recently introduced new signing and retention payment policies of up to $10,000 to focus on filling key ship based roles for eligible workers, including:
new employee signing payments
incentives for new and returning seasonal employees, as well as guaranteed hours of work over the peak summer season
payments for former employees who return to work
retention payment for employees who had indicated their intention to retire and remain working longer.
While fortunately our route seems to have largely recovered from the serious crewing shortage we experienced earlier this year, this is a good reminder that the personnel margins are slim, and that the most important asset of our ferry service (or any service) is the people who show up day in and day out to keep things moving.
BC Ferries have announced that they will be holding a public drop-in session next Monday, May 9 before the FAC meeting at the Agi Hall.
This is your opportunity to connect directly with BC Ferries representatives to provide feedback and ask questions about the new 2-ship service, facilities and schedules, and any other ferry-related issue you may have on your mind.
For more information about the drop-in session please contact Darin Guenette, Strategy & Community Engagement, BC Ferries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In light of the fact that COVID has been spreading rapidly on the island, the FAC requests that those who wish to attend wear masks, practice social distancing, and do not join us if you are feeling unwell. You can also attend the FAC meeting online via WebEx – for joining details please email email@example.com.
The Gabriola FAC will be having our first in-person meeting with BC Ferries since before COVID. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 9 at 2pm at the Agi Hall. In light of the fact that COVID has been spreading rapidly on the island, the FAC requests that those who which to attend wear masks, practice social distancing, and do not join us if you are feeling unwell.
If you are unable to attend this meeting but would like to provide input, please feel free to email the FAC at firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your question or concern.
BC Ferries has provided the FAC with the following ‘Fast Facts’ for the new, two-vessel ferry service starting April 12.
Capacity increase between Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island • Effective April 12, 2022 two Island Class vessels will enter service on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route • The introduction of the new vessels will result in a 49 per cent vehicle, and over 30 per cent passenger, capacity increase and doubling of sailing frequency at peak times for the route. • Two-ship service will be in operation from 6:20 am – 5:05 pm each day, and will offer sailings approximately every 35 minutes. • Waits are still possible on the busiest days of the peak season, with two vessels running twice as frequently, traffic should clear more quickly and sailing waits should be shorter.
Community feedback is reflected in the new schedules • We heard from the community about the importance of the morning sailing times to support commuters and school children leaving Gabriola. • The schedule reflects this input with a new 7:05 am departure from Gabriola. • We also heard about the need for easier loading and unloading of foot passengers and have constructed a new separate foot passenger walkway at the Nanaimo Harbour terminal to support this. Second vessel will run on a 12-hour day • The second ship will maintain a 12-hour service day and will operate until its last sailing at 5:05 pm from Descanso Bay. • Some gaps in sailing times still exist mid-day. These gaps are to allow time for crew breaks which provide time for crew to rest, preventing fatigue and helping maintain the safety of operations. • The focus is on providing additional service during the typically busiest travel times to provide the greatest benefit to the community. To avoid disrupting established travel patterns, the evening sailing times have been kept close to what is currently in place. • Service will continue with a single ship from 5:05 pm until the last sailing of the day at 11:00 pm out of Nanaimo Harbour.
Island Class capabilities Capacity: • The extra ship will increase capacity for vehicles and provide more sailing opportunities for commercial traffic. • The higher capacity will reduce the competing needs for deck space between smaller vehicles and larger commercial vehicles. • More sailing opportunities for commercial and higher capacity will reduce the likelihood and potential impact of sailing waits for all vehicles. Weather capabilities: • The Island Class vessels have similar weather handling capabilities as our Spirit and Coastal Class vessels that sail between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. • The Island Class vessels sailed from the shipyard in Romania to Victoria under their own power and have successfully sailed in challenging weather conditions on other routes for over a year. • We are confident they can handle the winter weather conditions present on any of our inter-island routes. Electrification: • The Island Class are fitted for full electric operation once shore charging infrastructure is available. We continue to work on the long-term plans for full electrification of the vessels.
Readiness at terminals and berths Terminal: • A separate foot passenger walkway at Nanaimo Harbour terminal has been constructed to make loading and unloading more efficient. • Minor updates were completed at both the Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island terminals to support the introduction of the Island Class vessels onto the route. Berth: • The second Island Class vessel will be tied up at the Nanaimo Harbour Authority’s Visiting Vessel Pier on Cameron Island when it is not in service. • We expect the vessel to have minimal impact on nearby residents as lights, generators etc. will not be running while the vessel is at dock. • We are in direct contact with the strata councils on Cameron Island to communicate our plans and answer any questions or concerns residents may have. Plans for the Quinsam: • The start of two-ship service with the new Island Class vessels on Route 19 will enable the Quinsam to enter service on Route 6, April 13, 2022 and keeping the schedule the same.
BC Ferries has just announced that he two new Island Class vessels will begin service Tuesday April 12.
One of the vessels will provide 18-hours of service. The second vessel will operate during the busiest 12-hour period of the day. According to BC Ferries, this will result in a 49 per cent vehicle, and over 30 per cent passenger, capacity increase and doubling of sailing frequency between 6:20 am and 5:05 pm.
A separate foot passenger walkway has been constructed at the Nanaimo Harbour terminal to support easier loading and unloading of foot passengers.
Edit: There was a typo in the information provided by BC Ferries regarding the scheduling of Dangerous Cargo – it has now been corrected. Sorry for the confusion!
BC Ferries has advised the FAC that the Island Gwawis will be used for Route 19 crews to learn and conduct operational readiness drills over the month of March. Passengers may notice the Gwawis sailing opposite the Quinsam during some of these drills, starting tomorrow, March 2. There may be times when it makes sense as part of these drills for them to load vehicles and people onto the Gwawis and sail as a supplementary sailing, but the timing will only be known as the drills and training unfold. To clarify, no extra sailings are officially planned and if they occur they are simply a “bonus” for customers who were waiting for a scheduled Quinsam sailing.
The MV Quinsam will be conducting mandatory life raft inflation and exchange on March 13. As a result, a foot passenger only water taxi will be in service in place of the following regular scheduled sailings.
Leave Nanaimo Harbour
Leave Descanso Bay (Gabriola Island)
12:00 pm 1:20 pm
12:45 pm 2:00 pm
There is no charge for the water taxi during this time.
At Nanaimo, the water taxi will depart from the ‘F’ dock, located at the downtown Nanaimo Marina. Directions to the water taxi, will be provided to customers when they arrive at the foot passenger booth in Nanaimo Harbour.
At Gabriola, the water taxi on the Descanso Bay side will arrive just beside the ferry terminal.
Only customers with a mandatory face covering will be allowed to board the water taxi.
Regular scheduled sailings will resume as of the 2:35 pm departure from Nanaimo Harbour.
A long standing item has been ticked off the wish list of many Gabriolans.
Last year the BC Government announced that it was providing funding though the Connecting British Columbia program to deliver Wi-Fi service at 14 ferry terminals serving communities from the Southern Gulf Islands to Bella Bella. As of yesterday, the FAC has been advised that this service is now live at both our Gabriola and Nanaimo terminals.
For more information see BC Ferries’ website here.
BC Ferries has announced that the Island Aurora will supplement the Quinsam next Tuesday to Thursday in preparation for the launch of the the Island Class vessel service starting this spring. BC Ferries has further advised that there is no set schedule for when the Aurora will be in each port, as the crew will need flexibility to pick up loads as it makes sense for their trial efforts. They will be assessing the conditions, new ideas for procedures, etc. What this means for customers is that the Aurora may just show up in dock while the Quinsam is at the other terminal, creating unexpected sailing opportunities.
From the Service Notice:
BC Ferries will trial two-ship service between Nanaimo Harbour and Descanso Bay (Gabriola Island) January 25-27. The Quinsam and Island Aurora will run the trials with plans to make two ferry service a permanent fixture in the spring.
Dock fitting will take place January 24 with trial service starting January 25. The trial period will give crews the chance to monitor travel and loading times and validate the schedule for two-ship service.
During the trial there is no change to scheduled sailing times although customers will have additional sailing opportunities throughout the day as Island Aurora will be running opposite the Quinsam. There may be a reduction in the number of pay parking spaces at Nanaimo Harbour to accommodate the additional crew.
After this trial is complete, BC Ferries will analyse what they’ve learned, and we will then aim to confirm the final schedules they will put in place when two Island Class ships start service in Spring.