British Columbia

B.C. Ferries passengers stranded for 10 hours near Gibsons finally disembark

After spending much of Tuesday trapped on a boat tantalizingly close to shore, passengers of BC Ferries' Queen of Surrey are finally on dry land.

No injuries reported; service suspended between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale until evening

Tugboats move in on the Queen of Surrey near the Langdale terminal in Langdale, B.C., on Tuesday afternoon after it was stuck on a dock to the right of the berth. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

After spending much of Tuesday trapped on a boat tantalizingly close to shore, passengers of BC Ferries' Queen of Surrey are finally on dry land.

Vehicles started rolling out of the ship's car decks onto the asphalt of the Langdale ferry terminal at around 6 p.m. PT, after the ferry "had an incident while docking" near Gibsons around 8:10 a.m..

"The ship came into contact with a berthing structure and is caught on a pontoon," BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said earlier in the day. "Part of the ship called the rubbing strake, which acts like a fender on a car, is hooked on."

That incident left passengers stuck on the ferry for about 10 hours as BC Ferries tried to get the ship free.

Tugboats arrived on the scene around noon, Marshall said, but weren't able to move the vessel into berth until about 5 p.m. after regulatory agencies had given the OK.

Marshall said the Queen of Surrey had 285 passengers on board.

The dock is a small area jutting out to the right of the terminal.

Video from the beach shows the ferry sitting atop the dock, far from where it should have berthed. (Credit: Lynn Chapman).

The Queen of Surrey crashed into a dock at the Langdale terminal around 8 a.m. on March 26, 2019. BC Ferries said 285 passengers were onboard at the time, though no injuries were reported. 0:12

A Coast Guard hovercraft was on scene to assist Tuesday afternoon.

Passengers relieved, frustrated

StephHalmhofer said she and other passengers were just getting ready to disembark when a crew member frantically spoke on the intercom.

"She says, 'brace brace brace!' And then she repeats it and says, 'brace for impact!'" Halmhofersaid.

"All then all of a sudden, bam!"

Halmhofer said most of the people on board kept calm. They were fed. They even had the long delay punctuated by a moment of levity: an intercom message that someone had lost their pants. 

"That was kind of the oddest thing that's happened," she recalled.

Lynn Chapman and her husband, who were on their way to Vancouver, were waiting for the ship when the docking went wrong.

"[My husband] saw and said it was coming in pretty crooked," said Chapman, standing on the beach near the dock. "It's tried to reverse to get itself off the dock, without success."

The Queen of Surrey sits atop a dock at the Langdale terminal on Tuesday morning after missing its approach to dock around 8 a.m. Around 285 passengers are stuck on board, with sailings between Langdale and Horseshoe Bay delayed for hours. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Chapman, who lives in Roberts Creek, had been trying to get into the city for an appointment.

"We have not a hope now," she said, adding, "I've lived on the coast since 1975. Never seen anything like this."

The ferry ended up latched on the dock after running into it just after 8 a.m. (Lisa Gordon/Facebook)

Marshall said no injuries were reported, but service between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale — linking West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast — was suspended.

Karen Robinson was also trying to leave the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday morning and heard about the delay on her way to the Langdale terminal.

"They said we could take lane 17 and wait or lane 20 and go back," she said with a laugh, adding that she and her family decided to wait it out. "Maybe we'll go into Gibsons and have some lunch, or sit and wait in the car and read a book."

Transportation minister concerned

B.C. Transportation Minister Clare Trevena said the incident is "obviously" worrisome.

"I'm concerned, obviously, we have a ferry that's hit a dock [but] people are safe, that's the main thing," she said. "We are still waiting for more information to find out the cause."

BC Ferries says by juggling its fleet — including pulling the Coastal Celebration away from a scheduled refit — service will be back to regular schedules by Wednesday morning.

The Queen of Coquitlam will take over the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale sailings.

With files from Yvette Brend, Tanya Fletcher and Justin McElroy

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