The mayor of a small island community off Newfoundland says a new ferry that started service on Friday is a godsend.

"It was like a dream come true," said St. Brendan's Mayor Veronica Broomfield.

She said residents are thrilled to see the newly launched MV Grace Sparkes arrive.

"Over the years [we have] never, ever had a new boat. It was unbelievable."

The Grace Sparkes, named after a pioneering educator and political activist, was launched in March with a sister ship, the Hazel McIsaac. They are the first vessels to be completed under a plan to refurbish the provincial ferry system.

Broomfield said residents hope the reliability of the new vessel — which can carry 16 vehicles and 80 passengers — will boost tourism. The island's connection is with Burnside on the Eastport Peninsula, which draws thousands of visitors each summer for its beaches and proximity to Terra Nova National Park.

The Grace Sparkes replaces the 45-year-old Hamilton Sound, which is being decommissioned.

Broomfield said having a brand-new ferry is like winning a lottery.

"The [Hamilton Sound] was delayed, the boat was broke down and had trouble or had to go somewhere else," she said.

"But this summer," she said, laughing, "no, it's not going anywhere."


A new ferry has started on the run between the island community of St. Brendan's and Burnside, on the Eastport Peninsula. (Google Maps)