Nfld. & Labrador

Province flying stranded ferry passengers stuck in Rigolet for 4 days

The provincial government will provide flights for 19 passengers stranded onboard the ferry in Rigolet since Monday.

The Kamutik W has been stuck in Rigolet since Monday due to poor weather

The Kamutik W has been stuck in Rigolet since Monday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Passengers who have been stuck aboard a Labrador ferry in Rigolet since Monday will be getting a ride to their final destinations, but it won't be by boat.

"The Department of Transportation and Works has arranged flights for the 19 passengers on the Kamutik W in Rigolet," reads an email from the department sent Friday afternoon.

Air Borealis will transport 17 of the passengers to more northern communities on the Labrador coast, and two passengers will be returned to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, according to the email.

"I'd say it's about time and I'm glad that it happened," said Charlotte Wolfrey, AngajukKak of Rigolet.

"It's really bad that people were on there and they're eating french fries and poutine and chicken nuggets … and there's people on there with children. It must be just awful." 

Wolfrey said she thinks the decision to get people out by plane should have come sooner.

"Especially when they came here on Monday, they knew that it wasn't going to get out for a few days," she said.

Ferry under fire

The Kamutik W's capabilities came under fire this week, with people questioning whether the new flat-bottomed boat is suitable for the rough waters off the coast of Larbador

The Nunatsiavut government met with provincial Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker in St. John's on Thursday to air their concerns about the vessel, and said he guaranteed them all the cargo destined for the North Coast would be delivered before the end of the season.

After the meeting, Nunatsiavut First Minister Kate Mitchell remained skeptical. 

Mitchell's email also references a situation early this year in which the department made a similar decision to helicopter stranded passengers across the Strait of Belle Isle when the Qajak W isn't able to navigate the ice.

Both the Kamutik W and the Qajak W came into service this year and both have faced fierce criticism from people in the regions they are serving.

The vessels are both operated by Labrador Marine, a company owned by the Woodward group of companies. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker reports on Labrador for CBC News from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

With files from Malone Mullin