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Day 1 of Hullo passenger ferry service thwarted by adverse weather, power outages

Travellers hoping to hop on the first sailings of a new ferry service between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland were disappointed after multiple Monday sailings were cancelled due to strong winds.

In an interview with CTV News, Hullo CEO Alastair Caddick said the decision to cancel all eight scheduled sailings on day one of operations followed city-wide power outages late Sunday in Nanaimo, where the ferry company is headquartered and warnings from Environment Canada predicting gale force winds.

"Those conditions are the first time since our crews have been training that we've experienced those bigger waves and heavier winds," said Caddick. "Quite frankly, we want to give our crews and our captains the time to practice and train in these kind of conditions before taking on passengers."

The company said refunds were being processed for those who had reservations, but was unable to say exactly how many customers were impacted.

One customer who spoke to CTV News at the dock near the Vancouver Convention Centre said she received an email notification about her cancelled noon sailing, but she went to the terminal anyway because she was having a difficult time rebooking her tickets.

"I'm just here because when I went to rebook on the app, it's just not functioning as it should be, I would say," Lesley Schwab said.

The blackout in Nanaimo started just after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday and affected nearly 4,000 customers, according to BC Hydro’s website. Caddick says it also caused a loss of power to the ferry berth and Hullo vessels.

Caddick said the first sailing was cancelled so crews could assess the impact the outage may have had on the mechanical and electrical systems on its vessels.

Hullo will also be monitoring an alert issued by Environment Canada in respect of gale force winds.

Caddick says the company is “adopting a deliberately conservative stance” in the early stages of the new ferry service, which involves two high-speed vessels with a capacity for 354 passengers each.

According to Environment Canada, similar windy conditions can be expected in the Strait of Georgia for the remainder of the week. 

On Monday evening, Hullo announced it had cancelled all sailings scheduled for Tuesday, August 15, too, “as the company notes a deliberate and measured approach to ensuring long term safety and reliability for the service,” it said in a news release.

Hullo said it anticipates sailings to begin in earnest on Wednesday, operating on a revised schedule for the rest of the month. The first and last sailings will be cut, with the service departing Nanaimo at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and departing Vancouver at noon and 6:30 p.m.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Kaija Jussinoja. Top Stories

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