Commercial traffic backed up in North Sydney

Back to back weather systems create ferry service delays


Published on February 14, 2017

In this file photo, Marine Atlantic’s MV Puttees and MV Highlanders are shown docked in North Sydney.

©Julie Collins/Cape Breton Post

NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. - A weather system for the record books has caused extensive delays for Marine Atlantic ferries from both North Sydney and Port aux Basques.

“February has been a difficult month, the weather systems have been ongoing,” said Marine Atlantic spokesman Darrell Mercer. “With the latest weather system we’ve experienced this week, we lost both sailings on Monday and the morning sailing on Tuesday.”

Weather depending, Marine Atlantic loaded vessels in both North Sydney and Port aux Basques for the 11:45 p.m. crossing Tuesday.

“While we were several hours later, it’s not very often that the same storm system stretches from New Brunswick through to Newfoundland shutting everyone down at the same time — schools, government offices, everything was shut down.”

Mercer said the present backlog in both North Sydney and Port aux Basques is made up primarily of commercial traffic.

“Just when we get some of the backlog cleared, we get hit with another weather system,” he said. “For us, traffic patterns vary depending on the storm systems, and the day of the week. We are moving the traffic as best we can in trying to clear some of those backlogs, but we could sure use a break from Mother Nature to help this along.”

He said a snow system with little or no wind doesn’t usually cause any issues.

“It’s when the snow combines with high, howling winds that whip up the seas, that’s what causes issues resulting in delays.”

At present the MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders are handling traffic from both ports.

“If we could get a few days of good weather, those vessels can take upwards of 100 commercial units per crossing and we’d clear the backlog fairly quickly but we need a break in these weather systems to give us a chance to catch up.”

Referring to winter travel in Canada, Mercer said whether you are flying, travelling by car or ferry, weather systems can quickly impact travel plans.

“The thing about the winter season is that it changes from year to year. Last year we had a lot of weather systems and wind that set us back between October to December,” Mercer said. “This year October to December were good and right now we don’t have any impacts from ice moving in to the Cabot Strait but winter storms are setting us back.”

For Marine Atlantic, safety is the main guiding principle to ensure that people don’t make decisions where they are going to put themselves in danger.

“From our perspective, we want to ensure that all decisions are based upon the safety of our customers and employees and that everybody has a safe crossing.”

Visit https://www.marineatlantic.ca/en/ or call 1-800-341-7981 for up-to-date information on ferry crossings.