Now that Island Discovery has made her maiden voyage, taking over the BC Ferries route between Texada Island and Powell River, the region boasts two of the newest, and one of the more modern ferries in the entire fleet.
With Salish Eagle transporting passengers from Powell River to Comox, and vice-versa, and the recently rebranded Malaspina Sky doing the same on the Saltery Bay-Earls Cove route, onboard experiences have taken a positive step over the past couple of years. But, when will Island Discovery really be, for lack of a better word, discovered?
The rain on the parade, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak resulted in cancellation of an open house planned by BC Ferries prior to the vessel taking over for North Island Princess, nullifying an opportunity for anyone interested in checking out the shiny new ship to jump aboard, for free. How often does something like that happen? Once per ship per lifetime?
For those who have essential travel between Powell River and Texada, will they see anything besides the car deck? Travellers have permission to stay in vehicles on all routes currently, and the pandemic reduces chances that anyone will leave the safe confines of their vehicles.
As of June 15, leaving the vehicle will likely mean donning a face covering, which will be mandatory for anyone who comes in close contact with another traveller or ferry staff. For a 35 to 40 minutes crossing, staying in the car will alleviate that inconvenience, for those who still look at wearing a mask in that way.
The good news is, Island Discovery will be patrolling these waters for decades, giving travellers the opportunity to not only “discover” the ferry, but visit Texada and all it has to offer. Someday, of course, when restrictions are eased, or a vaccine is discovered.
So long to North Island Princess. Who knows what her destiny is? Will she be sold to another company in another country to continue ferrying passengers around, or will she be parked in a remote inlet somewhere along the BC coast? Let’s hope the latter is not the case.
Wherever North Island Princess ends up, she will be missed by some. Sandy McCormick, who represents Texada Island as qathet Regional District Electoral Area D director, has previously said she is excited about the new ferry, but has many good memories about the old one. Memories are all that remain now; that ship has sailed.
With one brand new, one fairly new, and one somewhat modern ferry serving the region, there is nothing to complain about now, other than high fares, sailing delays, cancellations due to weather and home porting, to name a few. You know, the usual.