BC Ferries says its Duke Point terminal near Nanaimo will be out of service for months, not weeks.

The corporation had to close the terminal late Tuesday after the ferry Coastal Inspiration crashed into the dock on a trip from Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver, damaging the onshore ramp and the vessel itself.

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said it will take several months to repair the dock and at least one month to fix the bow of the Coastal Inspiration because a new part has to be made in Germany, where the ship was built.

Marshall said the Coastal Inspiration's sister ship, the Coastal Renaissance, will replace the damaged vessel on the mid-island route, which will connect Tsawwassen to Departure Bay a few kilometres to the north in Nanaimo while the Duke Point terminal is closed for repairs.

She says a preliminary investigation shows an electronic failure in a control system may have caused the crash, but that hasn't been verified.

The crash caused minor injuries to one passenger and one crew member.

Holiday delays

Passengers using the Departure Bay terminal  are being warned to expect heavy traffic over the holidays after a neighbouring terminal was closed because of a crash.

"We may have to re-jig some scheduling but we can certainly provide service to the Nanaimo area over the Christmas period," Marshall said.

Marshall said BC Ferries is taking steps to manage the extra traffic that will be moving through the terminal.

"We will be calling in extra staff at our Departure Bay terminal to handle the volumes," she said.

"Certainly it will be busier at Departure Bay than it would have been otherwise, since we will have the two routes coming in and out. So we would advise passengers to come earlier when they're departing out of Departure Bay."

With files from The Canadian Press