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Low tides prevent loading of low-clearance vehicles like RVs on Quadra ferry

Extreme low tides that affect the severity of the angle of the ramp between shore and a vessel are preventing some vessels from loading for hours each day
B.C. Ferries vessel Island K'ulut'a a serves the Quadra Island route. B.C. FERRIES

Drivers of buses, RVs and vehicles with very low clearance travelling between Campbell River and Quadra Island are being warned they may not be able to board ferries for several hours a day this week due to low tides.

B.C. Ferries has been issuing daily service notices since Monday suspending loading of these vehicles for hours at a time.

They won’t be able to load from 12:40 to 5:50 p.m. Thursday or from 2 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Friday.

Extreme high and low tides can affect the severity of the angle of the ramp between shore and a vessel, said spokesperson Deborah Marshall in an email.

“On these infrequent occasions, some low-clearance vehicles are not able to safely transit the ramp until the tide rises or falls,” she said.

Marshall said the situation is not unique to the Island Class vessels, which began serving the Campbell River-Quadra Island route this year.

There were “isolated incidents” of the same issue with the previous vessel on the route, the Powell River Queen, and it has also happened on the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale route, she said.

The tides are especially low during the day this week because the moon and sun are lined up to make a larger tide range, said Dave Riedel, acting supervisor at Canadian Hydrographic Service.

This week has seen a combination of a full moon, the moon at its closest approach to Earth, an annual solar low related to its position and distance to Earth, and high air pressure, he said.

The tide this week in Campbell River has been about 13 centimetres lower than the lowest expected tide, said Riedel, adding there were similar lows last year in June, but slightly later in the month.

Tides tend to be lower in June, and higher in December and January, he said.

Jasson Thiffault travelled on the route in late May with a 33-foot travel trailer that he was renting out to travellers on Quadra Island.

“I started to go down the ramp. And I was like, ‘Oh my god’ — it was pretty steep,” he said.

He worried the back of the trailer would drag, and the ferry crews put wood blocks under his trailer wheels to give it some clearance.

Thiffault tried to time his return trip for high tide, but the back of his trailer still dragged. He’s now hesitant to bring the trailer over on the ferry and has cancelled a rental booking in September.

“It’s not worth the potential damage to my trailer,” he said.

Quadra resident Philip Stone said he can’t remember the previous vessel on the route having issues with large vehicles loading and unloading.

Stone recently saw an RV break down on the ferry, and a tow truck that came to pull it off the vessel got stuck because of the angle of the ramp, causing a delay of about an hour.

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