Powell River residents are temporarily without BC Ferry service to the Sunshine Coast after a mechanical breakdown on the North Island Princess.

The vessel was sailing between Saltery Bay and Earl's Cove, replacing another ferry that had been moved to replace the broken down Queen of Burnaby on the Powell River to Comox route.  

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said a pump on the aging ship broke down shortly after its first return service run of the day. 

"We did locate another pump in the Lower Mainland that we attempted to fly up, but unfortunately with the fog today we weren't able to do that," she said. 

Staff have sent the part up by another route, she said, and the five to seven hours of work is expected to be completed by the end of the day in time for service to resume Friday morning. 

"It's certainly frustrating for us, and I'm well aware it's frustrating for our customers," she said. "We certainly apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. We know we've impacted a lot of people today."

Stranded customers can phone BC Ferries for assistance with finding alternate routes or accommodations if they need them, she said.

Marshall said the original vessel serving the route, the Queen of Burnaby, will be replaced with a brand-new ship by the end of the year. 

Replacement ferry not up to the job

Powell River resident Gordon Thompson says it's not that much of a surprise.

"That ferry is old. It's very small, and it's not designed to go as long each run."

Thompson said residents have been increasingly frustrated with unreliable service from the aging fleet that services the region. 

"The provincial government tries to keep BC ferries at arm's length, but they don't really," he said. "I have to blame the provincial government, ultimately. They know what's happening, and they ignore it."