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Medical emergency sends BC Ferries vessel back to dock, delays long-weekend sailings


Some long weekend travellers between Metro Vancouver and Nanaimo saw major delays Saturday morning, after a medical emergency forced a BC Ferries vessel to return to dock in Horseshoe Bay.

The 8:25 a.m. sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay on the Queen of Cowichan turned around mid-voyage and returned to the mainland.

"One of our customers is in need of immediate medical attention that requires the vessel to return to Horseshoe Bay," BC Ferries said in a service notice at 9:30 a.m.

As of 10:30 a.m. the vessel remained docked in Horseshoe Bay, according to passengers.

"We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience you may experience as a result of this delay," the provincial ferry operator said in its statement.

The Queen of Cowichan's next scheduled voyage was supposed to depart Nanaimo's Departure Bay terminal at 10:40 a.m.

In an update around that time, BC Ferries said the vessel is now operating 132 minutes late as a result of the earlier emergency.

"If you have a reservation on an upcoming sailing today, please arrive during the check-in window noted in your booking confirmation email to maintain your reserved status," the update reads. "This ensures we can stage your vehicle at the terminal ahead of standby customers and those reserved on later sailings."

The ferry service did not elaborate on the nature of the medical emergency, but did wish the affected passenger "a speedy recovery." 

More than 350,000 passengers are expected to fill BC Ferries vessels over the Family Day long weekend, the first test of 2024 for the ferry provider after a year plagued with cancellations and delays.

On Friday, the company said it believes it's prepared for the long weekend.

"We have added 26 additional sailings on our Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay run, which is the busiest route in the fleet," said spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

"We do expect to see traffic around the fleet, though. Generally, we will see traffic leaving both Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay (Friday) and then we will see lots of customers travelling with us on the holiday Monday.”

BC Ferries urges passengers to check current conditions before arriving at the terminal and give themselves plenty of time. Top Stories

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