WOOD ISLANDS, P.E.I. — Both ferries are back in operation ferrying people between Caribou, N.S. and Wood Islands P.E.I.
An electrical issue sidelined the M.V. confederation from Sunday, Aug. 18 through Tuesday, Aug. 20. The ferry is expected to resume its normal schedule beginning Wednesday, Aug. 21.
A bulletin was released on Tuesday afternoon stating that the ship would be back in operation on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
"The vessel performed flawlessly in extensive sea trials Tuesday afternoon," the advisory stated.
Don Cormier, vice president of operations for the company, stated that the problem affected the M.V. Confederation’s propulsion control and was first noticed by the ship’s crew on Aug. 18.
Because of the problem the ship had a harder than usual docking at Wood Islands
Cormier said it would be a gross exaggeration to say that the ship had crashed into the dock, but rather that it came in with more energy than it normally would.
He said deck officers had been advised prior to docking by the captain that there was a potential issue, but they didn’t encounter any further problems with the docking. No one was injured and there was no damage to the ship from the docking, he said.
Solving the problem with the propulsion system took longer than he would have liked however.
Cormier said attempts were made to diagnose the problem remotely by technicians in Norway, the manufacturing company, as well as local electricians on site. Finally the issue was fixed Tuesday afternoon.
“We certainly regret any inconvenience this caused to the travelling public, recognizing that this is the summer season still,” Cormier said.
Waiting at the ferry terminal on Aug. 20, there seemed to be little grumbling.
Clarence Savoie and Bazil Higginbotham were sitting together in the cafeteria adjacent to the terminal. Both of them are truckers who live on the eastern end of P.E.I. and they killed some time on Aug. 20 by drinking coffee, shooting the breeze and “eating French fries,” Savoie said with a laugh.
They normally make two round trips a day between the two provinces, dropping off then picking up loads on the northern part of mainland Nova Scotia. But the ferry disruption means they are down to one trip a day, and it’s taking money out of their pockets.
“They’re doing the best they can,” said Savoie of Northumberland Ferries Limited. “You could use the (Confederation Bridge), but it would cost a lot more.”
Glen and Cathi Keiser live in Alberta, just north of Edmonton.
This is Cathi’s first time in the Atlantic Canada, and Glen says he hasn’t visited here since 1974. They’d already been to Cape Breton, Newfoundland and Labrador, and were waiting to head over to P.E.I. for a few days. They tried to catch the mid-afternoon boat in Caribou but were too late getting there, and had to wait an extra three and a half hours.
“I don’t mind waiting, especially this kind of scenery,” he said.
The Confederation is the newer of the two ferries that travel between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. In the 2019 federal budget the government announced plans to replace the MV Holiday Island with a new ferry. No dollar figure or timeline was attached to the commitment of building a new ship at that time.