Sunday, August 25, 2019

CTMA Vacancier

A weekly passenger service between Montreal and Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone) in the Magdalen Islands is unique in eastern Canada where most regional ferry services are short distance / short duration. Catering to cruise passengers, it also carries cars (and bicycles), the C.T.M.A. Vacançier has served the route for 17 years and there are plans evolving to replace it.

For technical details see:

I see the ship every week when I am Quebec for the summer, as it passes my place on Thursday mornings on its upbound (westbound) leg. Actually I usually hear the ship before I see it, thanks to its pleasantly thumping Stork-Werkspoor engines. For the past two years the ship's passing time has been variable due to speed restrictions in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Those limits are in place to protect the endangered northern right whales, and resulted in at least one cancellation of its Gaspé port call.

This week the ship was much later than usual and did not hove into view until nearly 1400 hrs. I was ready with my camera because I had heard it coming and it sounded a bit louder than usual. That was because the ship was sailing extremely close to shore. While there is deep water close to shore it is unusual for large ships to come that close.

As the ship passes, crew members are readying the FRC which is stowed just aft of the ship's bridge. Passengers line the rails.
It turned out that the ship stopped off the wharf at Cap-à-l'Aigle and sent its FRC ashore. This may have been to land a passenger who may have had a schedule to meet or possibly a medical issue.

Standing off the wharf, a sail boat from the local marina passes by. Note the FRC is away from the ship.

The whole operation took only a few minutes and the ship was soon underway again.

Owners C.T.M.A also operate the ferry Madeleine between Souris, PE  and Cap-aux-Meules. Earlier this month they brought in a new RoRo freight only vessel Clipper Ranger. It has been chartered for a year with a purchase option, to replace C.T.M.A. Voyageur. The new ship can carry 53 trucks with 53 foot trailers, and/or cars  versus 22 on the older ship, and entered service Monday August 19.


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