Sunday, August 14, 2022

Ferry updates

 Part One

  Last month I reported on the ferries from various parts of Quebec, see Shipfax for July 14. Since that report there have been some interesting events, including the engine rrom fire on Holiday Island on July 22 that has resulted in the "loan" of the  Saarema 1 from the Société des Traversiers du Québec to Northumberland Ferries. Modifications to the ship and the wharves and training for the crew may be completed in time for the ship to enter service this week. If so that will ease the pressure on Confederation which has been making extra crossings. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the fire on Holiday Island, and so far there has been no word on whether the ship can or will be repaired.

The Holiday Island (2018 photo) was built by Port Weller Drydocks in St.Catharines, ON in 1971 for seasonal service between Cape Tormentine, NB and Borden, PE. Owned by the Minister of Trasnsport, it was one of two ferries built at the same time, originally operated by CN Marine (later Marine Atlantic). When the Confederation Bridge was built the Holiday Island was transfered to the Caribou, NS / Wood Islands, PE route under the operation of Northumberland Ferries Ltd. The sister ferry Vacationland, after an unsuccessful time as the Fundy Paradise on Grand Manan service, was sold to a Quebec company. Their plans to convert it to a dredge pumping station never took place and it remains languishing in Quebec City as a near derelict still bearing the now awkward name of Fundy Paradise

Interestingly the sister ferries were launched bearing the names of two Fathers of Canadian Confederation, who were from Prince Edward Island. The names were changed before the ships entered service; William Pope became the Holiday Island and Thomas Haviland was renamed Vacationland.

The Federal Government's March 2019 budget contained provisions for a replacement of the Holiday Island but little progress seems to have been made since then. Whether Saarema 1 can be depended on for service after this season remains unknown but it seems likely the Minister of Transport is shopping. 

It is certain that there will be no repeat of the early 1990s event when the member of Parliament for the Pictou riding announced that a new ferry would be built at the Pictou shipyard, apparently without discussing it with anyone else in government. Such was his power in cabinet however that the Confederation was indeed built by Pictou Industries Ltd and delivered in 1993.

Part Two

 The "cruise ferry" C.T.M.A Vacançier as reported last month remained laid up in Georgetown, PE because it could  not be made to comply with COVID-19 isolation requirements. Its weekly tourist run from Montreal to the Magdalen Islands was cancelled and the ship's future was very much in limbo.


Now however it has re-entered service, but for freight only (trucks and vehicles) [I am assumimg this means unaccompanied vehicles] while its fleet mate CTMA Voyageur 2 is at the Chantier Maritime Verreault at Méchins, QC for engine repairs. The duration of repairs is expected to be a month.

CTMA Voyageur 2 (according to Transport Canada there are no periods between the letters of C,T,M, and A on this ships) is a 7606 gt, 5758 dwt RoRo ship acquired in 2019, which runs weekly from Montreal to Cap-aux-Meules, with cargo only. Built in 1999 by Astilleros Huelva in Spain as Lembitu it has carried the names 1998: Dart 7, 99: Lembitu, 00: Celtic Sun, 01: Lembitu, 05: RR Challenge, 07: Challenge, and 08: Clipper Ranger to 2019. 

The Madeleine II (the former Villa de Teror) acquired for service in 2021, runs from Souris, PE to Cap-aux-Meules for passengers, cars and trucks. It is said to be a "temporary" ship to be in use until 2026 when a new purpose built ship will go into service. Major modifications to the piers in Cap-aux-Meules ($11.8 mn) and Souris ($6.8mn) have been necessary however, with work still underway. 

Construction of the 15,875 gt Madeleine II was completed in 2019. Although it was laid down in 2007, original owners Viking Line cancelled the order in 2010 due to delays in construction and it was not until 2013 that another shipyard aquired the ship. It was launched, at Astilleros Sevilla, then moved to Vigo for completion by Factorias Vulcano, but there were still issues with construction delays and costs, and it was not until new owners were found in 2019 that the ship was finally made ready for service. It only operated for a few months between Spain and Morocco before the Minister of Transport acqiured the ship for the C.T.M.A  route. 

The absence of any Canadian civilian shipbuilding capability (until recently) has meant that a grab bag of ships have been purpose built or acquired in used c ondition from overseas. Most of the purchases have worked out well, but there have been exceptions. With new Canadian built replacements for Holiday Island (likely), Madeleine II and a couple of others I could mention, in the offing, it will be interesting to see if they do better.


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