Rudder problem puts ferry out of service for week

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WOOD ISLANDS — The peak tourist season may be over but an unusual number of breakdowns at the Northumberland Ferries service may have reduced July tourism numbers through that entry point.

Northumberland Ferries Ltd.

The 20-year-old flagship MV Confederation is out of service for the entire week as the company awaits replacement parts for a rudder problem.

That’s left tourists, and especially truckers, either lining up and waiting or heading for the Confederation Bridge. The NFL service here connects with Caribou, N.S.

It marks the fourth time this year NFL has had to augment its schedule and leave all traffic travel to the stalwart Holiday Island.

“It may be time for a new ferry,” says local MLA Charlie McGeoghegan. “I don’t know if the federal government has an appetite for that, but this hasn’t been a good year for consistent travel.”

The Confederation broke down on three other occasions during the height of the busy tourist season this summer, leaving the 43-year-old Holiday Island to handle the customers. The Holiday Island has had new engines installed and, according to crew, the vessel built in 1971 runs faster than ever before and with even greater efficiency.

“No one can predict a breakdown, but it was unfortunate to see this happen over and over again during the 2014 celebration summer which was designed to attract more tourists,’’ said McGeoghegan. “They knew more traffic was expected and the truckers were hoping they wouldn’t be caught up in even more delays.”

The ferry is the only water link to the mainland and with constant entertainment acts this summer, many visitors have had to turn to the bridge.

It might be the reason ferry traffic was down 4.9 per cent according to the July tourism numbers released by the province Wednesday.

As of September, ferry crossings begin a traditional and annual schedule reduction. No one from the company responded to enquiries.

The Confederation is expected to resume service sometime on the weekend or early next week.

Geographic location: Holiday Island

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