Grand Manan ferry not a 'lemon', says Coastal Transport

The Grand Manan Adventure ferry is out of service once again, just two-and-a-half years after it was officially launched.

The $68M Adventure will remain docked until further notice, Coastal Transport says

The Grand Manan ferry is out of service again. Residents of the island have been told their 82-car ferry will be dock-bound until further notice. It's just the latest mishap for the trouble-plagued boat since it entered service in August of 2011. Harry Forestell talks with President of Coastal Transport , Murray Ryder. 5:24

The Grand Manan Adventure ferry is out of service once again.

It will remain docked at Blacks Harbour until further notice, Coastal Transport officials say.

Murray Ryder, president of Coastal Transport, said it was not immediately clear what the problem is. 

“We’ve developed an internal problem. We haven’t fully investigated yet but the lube oil distribution system developed a crack,” he said.

Ryder said that caused the engine to overheat.  He said it's a different problem than what stopped the ferry in the past.

He said they won't know how long the ferry will be out of commission until they get the engine fully apart to assess the problem.

Despite the ship's repeated technical problems, Ryder says it's not a lemon.

“Far from it. I like to say we have a peach. If you do talk to the folks on Grand Manan they just love that vessel and their worst fear is that that thing goes out of service," he said.

“It’s a far cry from the other vessel.”

The 82-car ferry is the only year-round link between Grand Manan Island and the mainland.

The old ferry, the Grand Manan V, is docked during the winter months.

Ryder said Coastal Transport is getting the Grand Manan V ready just in case the Grand Manan Adventure is docked for a long period of time.

“At the end of the day, it is a piece of equipment and we did have some teething problems, if you like, in 2011 when we brought the vessel in but I think we’ve pretty well worked our way through those. From time to time, anyone who deals with the equipment knows things are going to happen,” said Ryder.

Coastal Transport on the hook for repairs

He said the vessel is past its warranty period.

“Coastal transit is on the hook so it certainly keeps us running to get that thing up and running as soon as possible,” said Ryder.

“I believe in Santa Claus but not to the extent that I believe we can recover anything from this, it’s just one of the things that happens.” 

The Grand Manan Adventure (on the right) will remain docked until further notice, Coastal Transport says. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

About 13 vehicles were waiting in line on Monday at about 2 p.m., hoping the Adventure would be back in service for its regular 5:30 p.m. sailing.

But by about 2:30 p.m., Coast Transport cancelled all crossings for the rest of the day. Officials told passengers who were in line to check back in the morning.

For some people, like Howard Benson, patience was running thin.

"The province spent $68-million on this ferry and there has been big issues since it's been here, he said. "It is sickening. People have doctors appointments and people do travel."

Plagued by problems

The ferry has been plagued with problems since it was officially launched in August 2011.

Just four days after its maiden voyage, the boat's two bow thrusters failedIt was returned to service on Aug. 18, but was to return to the dry dock on Sept. 11 for 10 days of additional repairs.

The Adventure was docked with engine problems in October 2011.

It broke down again in April 2012 and was out of service for several days in July 2013 due to a broken turbocharger.

About a dozen motorists were waiting in line mid-afternoon, hoping the Adventure would be back on its run by the 5:30 p.m. sailing. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

Delivery of the ferry had also been delayed when it encountered mechanical problems during sea trials in Panama City, Fla., in June. The ferry overheated because of the failure of a pipe, officials said.

"It seems like the sea trial period has been extended, and there are some nuisances that need to be worked out," said Grand Manan village Coun. Kirk Cheney.

He is thankful for the new ferry and says delays are part of island life. But it's particularly hard on businesses, he said.

"I feel for the people in the trucking business, the aquaculture business, the lobster business because they have to get to markets. So we have a problem."

The Adventure replaced the Grand Manan V as the main, year-round link to the mainland.

The New Brunswick government owns the Adventure and Coastal Transport has a contract to operate the ferry.

The contract is performance-based and includes provisions to cover breakdowns and repairs.

The Department of Transportation signed a new 15-year operating agreement with Coastal Transport in 2012.


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