Nearly 6,000 people took advantage of Vancouver Island’s most northerly ferry in its debut summer.
They ate a lot of eggs, drank a lot of coffee, saw a few whales, helped resue plane crash survivors and generally left BC Ferries brass happy with the first season of direct service between Bella Coola and Port Hardy.
According to a media release, the Northern Sea Wolf travelled 14,286 nautical miles and made 130 trips between the two communities from June 3 to Oct. 10.
“This summer, the Northern Sea Wolf transported more than 5,750 passengers and 2,265 vehicles on this spectacular 10-hour journey past the Great Bear Rainforest, supporting tourism in the region,” the release states. “Wildlife spotted along the route included humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, otters and bald eagles. During this time, the Coastal Café on board served 5,305 coffees, 7,725 servings of eggs and 1,834 servings of bacon. “
The Sea Wolf summer schedule is designed to drive tourism by showcasing the fjords of the Great Bear Rainforest and allowing visitors to experience B.C. in a circle tour across the Chilcotin Plateau, along the Gold Rush Trail and through Vancouver Island.
“Reliable, safe ferry service is essential for our coastal communities, First Nations and tourism visitors, providing access and connectivity to unique and world-renowned experiences,” said Amy Thacker, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism CEO.
The Northern Sea Wolf also proved to be more than a transportation connection to the Mid-Coast communities. During its first season of direct service the vessel, its crew and customers played a key role in efforts to rescue plane crash survivors on Addenbroke Island on July 26.
Two doctors who were passengers joined one of the Northern Sea Wolf’s deckhands on Coast Guard helicopter and transported to the site of the crash. As the island is covered in dense forest, the three responders had to bushwhack to the crash site. They were the first to reach it and gave lifesaving medical attention to the survivors who were in serious to critical condition.
“We look forward to the vessel continuing to provide winter service to the Mid-Coast communities and another popular season of direct service next summer,” BC Ferries’ President & CEO Mark Collins said.
The ship will continue to provide connector service in the Mid-Coast from Bella Bella to Shearwater, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola in the off-season.
The direct seasonal service from Port Hardy for next year starts on June 3, 2020. For more information about the Northern Sea Wolf and the routes it serves, visit the BC Ferries website.