VANCOUVER -- A mechanical issue on a BC Ferries vessel forced crews to abort docking on Tuesday afternoon, leaving passengers stranded on board for hours.

Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall told CTV News the problem was discovered shortly before 3 p.m., when the Queen of Alberni was scheduled to arrive at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

BC Ferries described the issue as a gear box malfunction.

There were 187 people on board the vessel at the time, and they were left waiting several hours for a tugboat to tow the ferry into the dock. Marshall told CTV News she expected the ferry to finally arrive around 6:45 p.m.

The incident forced BC Ferries to cancel four Queen of Alberni departures, two from Tsawwassen and two others from Duke Point.