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B.C. Ferries vessel smashes into Mayne Island docks as windstorm wreaks havoc

A B.C. Ferries vessel smashed into docks at Mayne Island Saturday as severe high winds and rain forced the cancellation of ferries and flights throughout the region.
The B.C. Ferries vessel Queen of Nanaimo struck a ferry dock, seen in the foreground, and a private dock, behind, at Village Bay on Mayne Island during a windstorm on Saturday. 

A B.C. Ferries vessel smashed into docks at Mayne Island Saturday as severe high winds and rain forced the cancellation of ferries and flights throughout the region.

The storm was blamed for pushing the Queen of Nanaimo into a ferry dock as well as ripping apart a private dock near the terminal at Village Bay.

The extent of damage has not been determined.

There were two passengers and their vehicle plus 20 crew on board the vessel, B.C. Ferries said.

No one was injured.

The incident happened about 10:45 a.m.

The Queen of Nanaimo was out of service Saturday and was tugged back to Long Harbour on Saltspring Island.

The vessel’s hull was scheduled for inspection by divers Saturday night. It was expected to return to service today.

Environment Canada issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria Saturday as gusts of more than 70 kilometres per hour whipped through the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Strait of Georgia, caused by an intense low pressure system.

B.C. Ferries cancelled several sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay. The service between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay also experienced delays.

Harbour Air cancelled most of its 16 flights out of Victoria harbour to Vancouver because of the weather.

In Sidney, the windstorm damaged and dislodged a sailboat.

The boat, Lara, dragged her anchor until it became stuck underneath the pier at Bevan Street.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s motorized lifeboat Cape Naden towed the boat back to Sidney’s port.

The coast guard also assisted a vessel that was stranded on Sidney Spit island due to rough seas.

Environment Canada meteorologist Kenneth Chan described the conditions as a typical windy and rainy November day as the storm crossed B.C.’s coast. Today is expected to be sunny but small storms may reappear next week.

Emergency personnel reported the Queen of Nanaimo incident as a “soft grounding.”

However, B.C. Ferries said it was a positioning problem due to high winds. The ferry’s captain deployed both anchors “to keep the ship from being set onto the shore.”

Braedon Bigham, a crew member aboard the vessel at the time of the crash, said he and his friends were headed to Vancouver for the Vancouver Canucks game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bigham said the Queen of Nanaimo attempted to leave the Mayne Island dock when a big gust of wind caught the ship and forced it into the B.C. Ferries dock and a private dock.

The hockey fans made it out of Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen at 3 p.m. to see Pavel Bure’s No. 10 jersey retired.

B.C. Ferries did not believe the ship ran aground. Preliminary tests did not reveal any damage to the vessel, said B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall.

The Queen of Nanaimo, built in 1964, has a passenger and crew capacity of almost 1,000 people and can hold 192 cars. It operates on the Tsawwassen and the Gulf Islands route.

The vessel had a hard landing at Village Bay in August 2010. In July 2011, it was involved in another hard landing at the Tsawwassen terminal.

Mayne Island, with a population close to 1,000, is about midway between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.