Call them the Failed Dozen.
BC Ferries had to cancel 12 sailings on the system’s busiest route between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen during the first week of 2020, according to spokesperson Tessa Humphries. In 2018, 3.18 million passengers travelled from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, while 3.22 travelled the other way.
In January 2019, BC Ferries cancelled zero sailings, and six sailings in January 2018. BC Ferries cancelled 34 sailings in December 2018, when several storms blew through.
Six cancellations alone happened on Sunday, forcing BC Ferries to modify the existing sailing schedule.
Humphries said she could not estimate the number of passengers impacted Sunday by the cancellations due to high wind speeds.
“At wind speeds of about 30 to 35 knots, it becomes a safety issue,” she said. “The wind speeds were well over that [Sunday] during that period. I believe they were around 50. That is what I was told for Tsawwassen.”
Ultimately, several factors come into play: wind speed, direction, and wave height. “Docking at Tsawwassen becomes very challenging [during high winds], because Tsawwassen is right on the open ocean,” said Humphries. “So it is a safety issue. It is for the safety of our passengers, and our crew.”
Humphries said sailing on ferries anytime in January is a challenge.
“It’s January, it’s winter-time, and it’s tough with weather, because it is a dynamic situation,” she said. “It’s always changing and nobody can predict it 100 per cent. All weekend, our teams were in contact with Environment Canada regularly throughout the day to do the best possible predictions when it would be too much and for us to give our customers as much notice as we possibly could.”
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