Ferry crew didn't expect storm to hit so soon, hard
Published Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:26PM PST
A BC Ferries crew that aborted a trip after hitting violent seas knew about the storm before departing, but the storm hit much more quickly and with greater ferocity than expected, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Northern Adventure was slammed by strong winds and waves overnight Sunday as it sailed through the Hecate Strait from Prince Rupert to the Queen Charlotte Islands.
The jostling damaged four cars and sent dishes and chairs flying. Some of the 42 crew members suffered bumps and bruises.
One woman, who was eight months pregnant, was distraught but not hurt.
Two passengers told ctvbc.ca Monday night that they questioned why the captain decided to depart in the first place.
"The captain should never have sailed in the first place. He put everyone's lives in danger," said Katrina Overton, one of the passengers, who lives in Queen Charlotte City.
Deborah Marshall, a BC Ferries spokeswoman, said that the crew was aware of the storm but expected to be at or near the Queen Charlotte Islands before the brunt of the storm came through.
But the storm hit sooner than forecast -- and was more severe than predicted, she said.
The ferry departed Prince Rupert at 11 p.m. Sunday and was scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m. Monday in Skidegate in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
But at about 7 a.m., the captain announced that the ferry was turning around and returning to Prince Rupert, passengers said.
Passengers said they were angry that the captain didn't make any announcements sooner.
"(He said) nothing to calm the passengers down," said Tara Sjolund, a Masset resident.
Marshall said the captain made two announcements during the trip but was unaware of when he made them.
She said she would relay the passengers' complaints to the captain.
The Northern Adventure's 11 p.m. sailing to the Queen Charlotte Islands was cancelled on Monday, as well, due to poor weather and to allow the crew to rest, Marshall said.
The ferry was scheduled to sail out of Prince Rupert for Port Hardy Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
The next sailing to Skidegate will be Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
Customers who had reservations for either the Sunday or Monday 11 p.m. sailings will get reimbursed for all reasonable costs, including lodging and meals, Marshall said.
BC Ferries covered a plane ride out of Prince Rupert Tuesday morning for many of the stranded passengers, including a high school volleyball team, she added.