Ferry refit will make Strait of Belle Isle crossing more challenging

The ferry crossing between St. Barbe and Blanc Sablon will get a little more challenging beginning Monday when the MV Apollo is taken out of service in order to undergo a refit.

Limited accommodations on MV Astron means passengers will have to take flights

The MV Apollo will be taken out of service on the Strait of Belle Isle crossing beginning Monday in order to undergo its annual refit. (CBC)

The ferry crossing between St. Barbe and Blanc Sablon will get a little more challenging beginning Monday when the MV Apollo is taken out of service for its annual refit.

It will be replaced by the MV Astron, but it can only carry up to 12 passengers.

That means passengers not lucky aboard to board the vessel will have to take a 15-20 minute flight across the Strait of Belle Isle.

The freighter MV Astron will temporarily service the Strait of Belle Isle ferry crossing, beginning Monday. (Submitted by Dean Porter)

The company that operates the service, Labrador Marine, is confident the temporary measures will work.

Operations manager David Leyden said civilian passenger traffic is not expected to be very high, though he admitted things could be a little more complicated for commercial vehicles.

"We might have to do some extra crossing for that," Leyden said.

Motorists will load their vehicles onto the Astron, and then be transported to the airstrip at Sandy Cove on the Northern Peninsula or the Blanc Sablon airport in Quebec.

'Not something we're unfamiliar with'

Passengers will also be transported to the ferry terminal once they complete the flight in order to meet their vehicles.

"It's not something we're unfamiliar with," said Leyden.

A similar system was put in place in 2011.

He said the company will closely monitor the modified service to ensure it is working effectively and efficiently.

There will be no change in rates.

Leyden said one factor that may affect the service is ice conditions. He described them as "normal" for this time of year, adding that icebreaker assistance is being provide.

The Apollo is expected to be back on the service by the end of January.

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