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Coastal Renaissance to be out of service for busy holiday season

Motor repairs are taking longer than expected for the vessel, which typically takes passengers between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen.
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Coastal Renaissance. BC Ferries

The Coastal Renaissance won’t be back in service for the busy holiday season as hoped, since motor repairs on the ferry are taking longer than expected.

The vessel, which has been out of service since August, had been expected to resume sailing in mid-December in time for the peak travelling season.

It’s currently undergoing a scheduled refit at Departure Bay, said B.C. Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

B.C. Ferries said Wednesday it does not yet have a date when the Coastal Renaissance will return to service, but remaining ferries will be able to handle the high demand next month.

Four vessels will be in service between Vancouver Island and the mainland next month and will be able to carry more than 55,000 passengers and 10,500 vehicles between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen on the busiest days of the season, the company said.

The Salish Heron will be sailing the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route for the first time during the first two weeks in December, the company said.

Any customer affected by schedule adjustments will be notified, B.C. Ferries said.

The 525-foot-long Coastal Renaissance can carry 1,604 passengers and crew and 310 vehicles.

While work continues on the 2007 vessel, the Coastal Celebration will sail in its place on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route.

After the ferry was parked in Nanaimo during the busy summer season, its number two drive motor — all Coastal-class vessels have two drive motors — was shipped to Indiana for repairs.

The delay in returning to service came as a surprise to B.C. Ferries, which said in a statement that it had just learned repairs will take more time.

“When they were conducting final testing, the motor indicated a short circuit. They are investigating the cause,” Marshall said.

Wednesday’s news is the latest blow to the German-built Coastal-class ferries. All three were out of service at some point this year due to mechanical issues, affecting many passengers through the busy summer months.

After issues arose with the Coastal Renaissance’s drive motor, engineers conducted inspections and determined that all drive-motor rotors on the three Coastal-class ships should be replaced due to wear, in advance of next year’s peak season.

The rotor replacements will be done under an insurance claim, Marshall said earlier.

In 2022, 911,000 passengers and 428,000 vehicles travelled by ferry during the holiday season.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com