(BC Ferries/Twitter)

The Canada Day long weekend is fast approaching, and for those planning to travel between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, BC Ferries is warning passengers to expect busy terminals and potential sailing waits.

The anticipated increase in traffic is a result of an unplanned, extended refit that has temporarily taken a ship out of service, leading to decreased passenger and vehicle capacity.

The Coastal Celebration, one of BC Ferries’ vessels, experienced unexpected complications with its propulsion systems during its dry dock period, causing delays in its return to service.

As a result, over 6,600 bookings had to be reassigned to other vessels, namely the Spirit of Vancouver Island, Spirit of British Columbia, and the Queen of New Westminster.

“The service recovery effort undertaken by our team to mitigate the impact of refit issues
beyond our control has been exemplary,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO of
BC Ferries.

“I can assure all travellers that our engineers are working closely with shipyard crews to expedite repairs so the Coastal Celebration can safely get back on the water as soon as possible.”

There will be eight fewer daily sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay from June 28th to July 3rd.

Passengers with existing reservations will not be affected and will make up the vast
majority of those sailing this weekend. However, customers travelling without a confirmed booking are strongly encouraged to go as walk-on passengers given a limited number of spaces for standby vehicles on each sailing.

To accommodate the anticipated surge in traffic, all ticket booths at the Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen terminals will be open.

Passengers are advised to stay updated on the availability of standby spots by checking travel advisories on BC Ferries’ website and Twitter account frequently.

The company’s engineers are working closely with the shipyard crews to expedite repairs on the Coastal Celebration, aiming for a return to service by Tuesday, July 4th, pending completion of the repairs and successful sea trials.

During the repair process, shipyard crews discovered issues with the stern tube bearings and the rudder stock, both crucial components of the vessel’s propulsion system, according to BC Ferries.

The repair is intricate and will require significant crew hours, including overtime work at night and on weekends. Once the repair is completed, BC Ferries said the vessel will undergo sea trials before it can be cleared for service.

Residents living near the Swartz Bay terminal may experience extended periods of engine noise as the ship undergoes various tests.

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