The people of St. Brendan's found themselves suddenly without a ferry on Wednesday as their vessel was brought in to help out with the Bell Island run.
The ferry MV Grace Sparkes takes on vehicles in a file photo. Ordinarily serving St. Brendan’s, the Grace Sparkes has been moved to cover the Bell Island ferry run, after the MV Flanders was taken out of service for maintenance. — TC Media file photo
The Bell Island ferry MV Flanders will be out of service for several days to undergo mechanical repairs.
In the interim, the MV Galatea will continue to service Bell Island when weather permits but it can’t operate in high winds as it doesn’t have side thrusters.
Meanwhile, MV Grace Sparkes — the ferry for St. Brendan’s — will join the Galatea on the Bell Island route as soon as possible.
That leaves St. Brendan’s in a tough spot.
A contingency helicopter service will be provided for the community.
“We’re working through it,” said Mayor Veronica Broomfield. “We’re not happy about it but we’ll survive.”
NDP Transportation and Works critic George Murphy didn’t waste any time raising an alarm on safety.
“It seems to me that, at the very least, the ferries that the people of this province depend on should be able to handle high winds and rough waters,” Murphy said in a news release Wednesday.
“It’s not as though either is unusual, given our climate.”
Meanwhile, the MV Sound of Islay, which services Fogo Island is undergoing emergency repairs to cracks in its hull and can no longer be used in rough waters either.
Murphy went on to say each time an issue with a ferry arises, he worries about the people who have to travel on them either as employees or as passengers.
“It’s not enough to hope the winds will die down, or the seas won’t be rough,” Murphy said.
“The vessels that people in this province depend on should be operational in all but the most extreme kinds of weather.