A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Terry Fox was called out Thursday to help the ferry that runs between Souris and the Magdalen Islands when she became stuck in ice which is the heaviest since 1994.
In fact extreme ice conditions in the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait have caused delays and a busy schedule for five Coast Guard icebreakers in the region.
This has been the scenario several times over the last few weeks and has led to delayed crossings for the M.V. Madeleine, which makes on average three round trips per week in February and March.
Passenger Dana Quinn, 23, was travelling from her home on the Magdalen Islands through PEI to UNB in Fredricton where she attends school. She said the boat was stuck multiple times in the ice, stretching the journey to eight hours. The sailing usually takes five hours.
“I told my friends in Charlottetown I would meet them around 2:30 or 3pm,” she said after 4pm in Souris.
Ms Quinn said the ferry left the Quebec port at 8am, but became stuck different times.
Ms Quinn uses the ferry several times a year, including around Christmas to visit family, so she is accumstomed to the delays.
“This year there seems to be more ice than usual so it’s (the ferry) getting stuck almost every trip,” Ms Quinn said.
Meanwhile, an Irving tanker, the Nanny, sailing to Charlottetown, was making slow progress through the Cabot Strait and waiting for the Terry Fox to make its way there.
Paul Veber, superintendent of ice operations in the Atlantic region, said they try to accommodate the passenger ferry quickly.
“As we receive requests, we respond and deal accordingly,” he said from his office in Newfoundland.
Mr Veber said every year is different, but records show there is more ice this year.
Some areas have ice more than 120 cm thick (roughly four feet) and most in the 70 to 120 cm range.
“The westerly wind creates pressure along the coastline,” he said.
While in the past few years there have been lighter ice conditions, there is no melting in sight yet this year.
“There were similar conditions in 2003, but not over the whole region like this year,” Mr Veber said adding it doesn’t look like things will change soon as forecasts for the next week are continous cold temperatures and westerly winds.
Passenger Dana Quinn, 23, was travelling back to school from the Magdalen Islands Thursday when the M.V. Madeleine ferry, which sails between Souris and the Magdalen Islands became stuck in heavy ice.
The Canadian Coast Guard dispatched an icebreaker to free the ship which arrived in Souris hours past schedule. Ms Quinn, who frequently uses the ferry, said this is a fairly common occurrence in winter, but the eight-hour trip was a definite inconvenience. Angus McPhail photos
This isa picture of ice conditions in the Northumberland Strait looking north from the Confederation Bridge on March 4. Sibmitted by Coast Guard