Fogo Island ferry out of service 'until further notice'
Fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters now being used on route
Tourists and residents of Fogo Island are once again scrambling after the ferry linking them to the rest of Newfoundland was knocked out of service over the weekend.
"An electrical issue was identified on the MV Beaumont Hamel late yesterday afternoon, and so the vessel was docked for maintenance," Transportation Minister Paul Davis said in a statement issued by the department Sunday on his behalf.
"Contractors with technical expertise began examining the vessel yesterday to determine the full extent of the issue and how long the repair will take. They continue to assess the vessel today and will provide information that will help set a timeline for restoring service."
The Department of Transportation doesn’t yet know when the Beaumont Hamel may return to the water.
Fixed-wing and helicopter passenger service for Fogo Island and nearby Change Islands began Sunday afternoon.
Others made the trip via punts, a type of small wooden boat.
The Beaumont Hamel is itself a replacement ship.
The Earl W. Winsor, which usually handles the route, is out of service for required maintenance.
According to a recording left on a government information line just before noon Sunday, the Beaumont Hamel is unavailable "until further notice."
Went out of service without warning, resident says
Maureen Lynch, a resident of Island Harbour on Fogo Island, said the ferry went out of service without warning Saturday afternoon.
Lynch said it left some tourists in a strange situation.
"There were some customers [who] were coming to our five-star inn yesterday, and they got in Farewell, and the ferry was broke down," she said.
"They had to get aboard of an open punt and be transported to Fogo Island."
The state of the ferry service has been a constant issue of concern in the area.
Last May, thruster problems knocked the Beaumont Hamel out of service for several days while the swing vessel Nonia was sent to cover the route.
The Nonia was decommissioned earlier this year, leaving the province without a swing vessel to cover the Fogo Island run.
In late January, the transportation department issued a request for proposals for new vessels, including a replacement for the Earl W. Winsor, which was built in 1972. The 90-day window to accept proposals ran out in early May.
Officials in the department could not say Sunday what has happened since. It’s also not clear exactly when the Winsor is scheduled to return to service the Fogo Island route.
Delays, blown deadlines
The Tory government's vessel replacement strategy has been plagued by a series of delays and blown deadlines since being first announced in 2006.
Only two new ships have been put into the water, despite promises of more.
The Progressive Conservatives made building new ferries in Newfoundland and Labrador a plank of the election platform that swept the party back to power a decade ago.