Village Bay Accident

Not being a major news story, the local media is a little slow on getting the details to us. They're obviously waiting for official word from BC Ferries, but they're not really digging for other info very hard from what I can see. For Mayne Islanders this story is vitally important.

I'm hoping those who have any information - not rumours - but actual info about what is developing, can post comments here. Just hit the link with the word "comments" in it, below this post.

At this point, 5 pm August 3rd, it's unclear how long the berth will be out of service and whether the Nanaimo can continue soon, or if a replacement vessel will be found.

You can comment anonymously if you choose.

Update: 5:30 pm. I just heard on the radio that divers have confirmed there was rope tangled around one of the propellors that prevented them from turning and slowing the Nanaimo as it approached the berth. It's been speculated that the ropes were from crab traps.

Update 1 AM Aug 4: I've read two news reports about the condition of Berth 2. One says at least a week for repair another says ominously "weeks" "several weeks". BC Ferries official word is taking it day by day and not speculating on the condition of the Nanaimo. For later this morning they are bringing in the Bowen Queen for the 10:20 run from Tsawwassen to the Gulf Islands, but that's it for the day, everyone else will have to do a through-fare. Didn't they just sell the usual replacement vessel, the old Queen of Tsawwassen, last year? It's starting to look like those on Mayne Island relying on tourist business through August are going to be suffering.

BC Ferries Service Notice

Update 11 AM Aug 4: I just heard an 11 AM news broadcast where BC Ferries spokesperson Debra Marshall is quoted as saying that it was not a rope tangle that caused the crash. They've discovered a mechanical device that controls the response of one of the engines failed.

They're still saying that the Nanaimo is "day to day" to use a sports term, but I imagine if they found a mechanical problem, this would require more time and careful checking before they could put it back in service.

I'm wondering if anyone knows, does the Nanaimo require berth 2 or can it use berth 1 if berth 2 is down? (A commenter answered that yes, the Nanaimo can use Berth 1.)

Update 1 PM Aug 4: BC Ferries has now pinned the blame on a securing mechanism on the control box on the port side. Two 6-inch metal dowels appear to have fallen out of the mechanism. (For nautical buffs, excuse me if I got the terminology wrong, just quoting what I heard on the radio. I don't know what any of this stuff is myself).

Update 1:30 PM Aug 4: From the Victoria Times-Colonist, some close-up photos of the damage and a more definitive statement about what may have happened to cause the accident:
The 15-metre-long line had a commercial crab pot on one end and a buoy on the other. The Queen of Nanaimo ran over the crab pot on its Gulf Island run Tuesday, and the rope binding the propeller caused the ship to vibrate, which likely led to the oil distribution box becoming unsecured, said Marshall.
“What may have happened is the lines may have caused vibration and the vibration may have caused the securing mechanism — they are two steel dowels of about six inches long — to fall out,” said Marshall.
Without oil, the captain was unable to swing the propeller from its forward position to reverse, and the ferry crashed into the dock.
BC Ferries is now saying the Queen of Nanaimo will be back in service Friday. Good news.

Another update 6:45 PM Aug 4: I've received some "from the horse's mouth" info from BC Ferries this afternoon, that re-iterates what's already been released with a few extra details. Thanks for the contribution.
So, as the analysis of the extent/type of damage to the QofN progresses, BC Ferries has come up the following plan for the short term:
1. Nanaimo will remain out of service tomorrow, but is expected to return to regular schedule operations Friday, Aug 6. 
2. For Thursday, Aug 5, the following will occur. All QofN scheduled sailings are cancelled. The Bowen Queen will, however, be put into service in the morning, on a modified form of Nanaimo's normal 1020 Tsawwassen departure leg. BQ to depart TSA at 1020. All Sturdies Bay and Village Bay-bound reservations that were already made for the Nanaimo will be accommodated on this sailing, that will operate: TSA to Sturdies Bay to Village Bay to Sturdies Bay to TSA. Then, the Bowen Queen will move into her regularly scheduled afternoon, Route 9A sailings.
Bowen Queen's schedule is not affected, as she normally would not be doing a morning run, and this way, she can perform some of QofN's normal morning runs. 
3. Then, when QofN returns Friday, she will resume her 'regular Route 9 schedule' with two exceptions until the berth is repaired at Village Bay. The two exceptions:
- Mon-Fri a.m., there will be no Lyall Harbour to Otter Bay transfers.
- Mon-Thurs p.m., there will be no Lyall Harbour to Tsawwassen transfers…directly. That is, the Saturna departing customers will still be able to get to the Lower Mainland, but they will now be doing so via Swartz Bay. 
4. Current estimate for berth repair at Village Bay is two weeks. So, this modified QofN plan outlined in 3. will only remain in effect until both berths at VB are fully operational, at which point 'everything goes back to normal'.
So it looks like BC Ferries has a firm plan now until everything is repaired. Good news. 

Photos by Toby Snelgrove - more available on his website.


  1. I was reading an online comment from someone saying they were a boater that you should never go towards a dock faster than you would want to if your engine failed.

    I guess the practice of BC Ferries vessels is to move towards the docks at some speed and then use their reverse engines to slow down. In this morning's case the engine couldn't slow it down because the propellor was tangled.

    Now I guess if they moved into the berths slower, this would add many extra minutes onto the sailing times, as the ships slowly moved into their berths without relying on an engine to slow them down.

    Anyone know if this is true?

  2. Jim, thanks for the 5:30pm update, I wouldn't have heard without your reporting.

  3. Jim, even better: design the berths to absorb the impact more gracefully.

  4. Well, if you think you can idle the engines and expect a mass that large to drift pleasantly into a quiet kiss at the dock what with tides pulling the ship one way and wind shoving it in a pirouette the t'other - you are quite daft. It is sometimes possible but would perhaps add15min to each docking sequence on a good day. You might notice though that 10min before each dock the diesel engine powering the bow thruster starts up. The stern propellers are used for slowing the ship whilst propellers, rudder and bow thruster are used for and manoeuvring. There is always a deckhand by the anchors and one anchor is always ready for rapid deployment. The crew has its sh!p together!

  5. Thank you for the info, anonymous person. The name-calling was unnecessary since I did ask if what I had read posted by someone else was accurate, not being knowledgeable myself. I thought about deleting your post because of the rude attitude displayed but you did appear to provide what appears to be knowledgeable information.

    (Why is it that people on the internet find it so easy to call each other names? Usually while remaining anonymous too.)

    But you seem to be saying what I suspected, that without using an engine to slow the ships down, a possibly unacceptable amount of time would be added to the sailing time. And as you say there are other forces at work moving the ship about that need to be countered.

    I was not attempting to criticize those who crew our ferries, just interested in understanding what's going on.

    So if ropes floating about in the water can be a serious danger to our ferries, what is the safeguard?

  6. I have observed a person putting out crab nets in Village Bay and wondered what he was thinking. A: Traffic and B: I'm not sure I's want a crab from VB. According to ferry staff (this eve) it was crab lines that fouled things up.

  7. This was the speculation on the news also that the ropes tangled in the propellor were from crab lines.

  8. Nanaimo can use Berth 1. of the divers told me he found rope fouling the props. 12:08

  9. Thanks for that info about Berth 1. So if they get the Nanaimo back in service soon, then the disruption to service shouldn't be too bad. Here's hoping ....