Nova Scotia

N.S. family makes the best of it after ferry troubles delay Christmas trip to Newfoundland

Hundreds of Marine Atlantic passengers have had their Christmas plans delayed after a ferry was unable to dock in Port aux Basques, N.L., due to a mechanical problem.

Weather, mechanical issues delay ferry to Saturday night

A blue and white ferry vessel sits near a dock.
A mechanical problem with the MV Blue Puttees kept it from docking in Port aux Basques, N.L., and forced a return to Nova Scotia for repairs. (Marine Atlantic/Twitter)

Richard Sansford says it is difficult to have his family's Christmas disrupted, but they are making the best of it.

Sansford spent most of Saturday in a North Sydney, N.S., hotel room with his wife and two kids, who are under the age of four, as they awaited a Saturday night ferry crossing to Newfoundland.

On Thursday night, they were on the Marine Atlantic's MV Blue Puttees that was carrying 446 passengers from North Sydney to Port aux Basques.

There was a generator issue as the ferry approached Port aux Basques and had to return to North Sydney, arriving Friday, to make repairs.

"There were just cries … and it just reverberated through the entire boat," said Sansford.

"I knew my wife would be upset. And as I walked back to the cabin, I could hear people in their own cabins, crying and upset."

Sansford is originally from Newfoundland but his family makes its home in Bridgewater, N.S. They are travelling to Newfoundland to spend Christmas with his wife's family.

He said his family faces about eight hours in the car to get to their destination after the ferry docks Sunday morning. 

Water with a city in the background.
The ferry was approaching Port aux Basques, N.L., when the captain announced it would be turning around. (Richard Sansford)

Marine Atlantic spokesperson Darrell Mercer said the generator is needed to power the bow thrusters.

"Without those bow thrusters, it makes the docking process difficult from a safety perspective," said Mercer. 

"So the captain, with the weather system that was approaching last night, made the difficult decision to return to North Sydney because they didn't want to be out in the open water with those severe weather conditions that were approaching."

He said repairs were made in Nova Scotia. 

Long journeys ahead

Sansford said most of the people are from the Avalon Peninsula and have a long journey ahead. He spoke to one person from Stephenville who had flown from Vancouver to Halifax and rented a car.

"So, there's people that have had bigger journeys … and everybody just wants to get home."

He said his family is trying to just enjoy the restaurant food and swimming pool and make the most of the situation. 

"We were excited that our destination was going to make our Christmas, but I think our journey may have as many memories attached to it as Christmas," said Sansford.