Friday, May 17, 2013

Louis-Jolliet aground near Quebec City and a ferry tale

The veteran cruise boat and former ferry Louis Jolliet ran aground on the western tip of Ile d'Orléans this afternoon while heading for the Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré  Montmorency Falls area. All 57 passengers aboard, consisting mostly of students, and 20 crew evacuated safely to the two Quebec City pilot boats, Océan Express, and Océan Guide. Film footage shows the ship heeled over on her starboard bilge and high and almost dry. See:

Owners Croisières AML, with Groupe Océan tugs, apparently refloated the ship at high tide, since she now appears to be back at her dock. There were no reported leaks - inward or outward- so damage may have been minimal.

Built by nearby Davie Shipbuilding (now Chantier Davie Canada Inc)at Lauzon, QC in 1938 [that's in in the background of the photo] , it served up to the 1970s as a Québec-Lévis summer ferry. Its airy car and passenger decks contrasted sharply with the fully enclosed goose egg shaped winter ferries.It was powered by a 950 ihp steam engine built by the picturesquely named Canadian General Shoe + Machinery Co. The engine was built in 1910 and salvaged from another ship.
That engine served until it was converted to diesel by AML when it was reconfigured as a tour boat. Regrettably AML felt it necessary to add a false funnel and other excrescences that diminished the ship's charm in direct proportion to increases in its passenger capacity. The delightful bridge wing teahouses have been overwhelmed by a lounge, and a ghastly midship tent adds frosting to an already indigestable cake. Maybe you've concluded that I disapprove. I hate to show this photo:

I took many enjoyable rides on the older version, and although it is good to keep old ships going, this one has gone to far with the modernization.

Meanwhile back at the Chantier Davie ranch, it was announced today that the yard has finally signed the deal with Société des Traversiers de Québec to build two new ferries for the Tadoussac to Baie-Ste-Catherine service. The ships were awarded to the yard when it was in bankruptcy protection, trying to re-organize and bid on the NSPS contract.The new boats, reported to cost $125 mn will be 92m long, carry 115 vehicles and will be powered by Wartsila dual fuel engines, burning diesel or LNG. Since there is no LNG within 150 land miles of Tadoussac, any cost saving will be lost by having to truck the fuel to the ships or send the ferries across to Cacouna to fuel up. Silly, silly.

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