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Low tides, power outages pull plug on North Island ferry run

Ferry turned back from Sointula because ship-to-shore power cord was too short

A low tide, a power outage and a ferry all converged on Dec. 30 – and the ferry had to leave because its power cord was too short.

A power outage on the North Island had cut power to the ferry dock on Malcolm Island, meaning the loading ramp couldn’t be lowered. BC Ferries are equipped with ship-to-shore power backups, but in this case the tide was so low the cord couldn’t reach land. The Island Aurora turned back to Port McNeill.

BC Ferries offered to reimburse those passengers who needed accommodation in Port McNeill. Some found hotels, and at least one passenger told the Gazette they were prepared to sleep in their vehicle.

In the meantime, BC Hydro crews were able to get power back online — it had been knocked out by a tree that fell over a transmission line during a storm that day — earlier than anticipated, so BC Ferries made a last run to Sointula that night with any passengers who had stayed.

Spokesperson Deborah Marshall said engineers are looking into extending the ship-to-shore cable for extreme low tides.

READ MORE: A fallen tree cut power to 7,000+ customers

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