The newest B.C. Ferries vessel made its first regular service journey today, providing a new connection between the Gulf Islands’ Denman Island and Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island.
The Baynes Sound Connector’s route is 1,900 metres in length, making the ferry corporation’s first cable ferry service one of the longest of its kind in the world. From end to end, it will take passengers approximately 10 minutes to travel across Baynes Sound on the 78.5-metre-long vessel, which can carry up to 50 vehicles and 150 passengers and crew at speeds no greater than 8.5 knots.
No propellers are used to navigate the vessel as it utilizes cables, one drive cable and two guiding cables, that pulls the ferry in and out of the terminals.
According to B.C. Ferries, cable ferry technology was chosen over conventional ferry technologies due to its lower operational and maintenance costs; over its lifespan of 40 years, the Baynes Sound Connector is projected to save $80 million in operational costs. Comparatively, it will use half the fuel of the route’s current vessel, the Quinitsa, a similarly sized 1977-built conventional vessel slated to be decommissioned later this year.
The Baynes Sound Connector will undergo a ‘soft sailing’ phase beginning today and ending on February 3. Some of the regular scheduled sailings on the route will be provided by the new vessel during this period.
The vessel was built by Seaspan at its shipyards in North Vancouver. The total cost of the project, which includes a retrofit of the terminals, is $15 million.
Over the coming year, three new ‘Intermediate Class’ ferry vessels built at a cost of $252 million in a Polish shipyard will be delivered to B.C. Ferries. The three vessels, built with a capacity of 145 vehicles and 600 passengers, will replace the half-century-old Queen of Burnaby and Queen of Nanaimo vessels.