Summerside - Before being decommissioned, the MV Vacationland was the workhorse of the P.E.I. summer fleet.
The vessel, now rusting in a Quebec dock while waiting its fate, ferried up to 487 passengers per trip from P.E.I to New Brunswick and back, from 1971 to 1997.
Kevin Ranahan, one of the Vacationland captains, says it’s disheartening to see the vessel sitting idle and falling into disrepair.
“It’s almost like seeing a parent that has Alzheimer’s or cancer and coming to their last stages, and they’re not the person they use to be,” he said.
For almost 33 years Ranahan worked on the ferries. He started as a bus boy doing errands for cooking staff, then graduated to a waiter, deck hand, and then captain.
He experienced incredible sights from the dazzle of the Milky Way, nights where there was no divide between the inky sea and black sky, to severe winter storms.
“Those boats become a part of you, believe it or not. Sometimes when I was working on the vessels, and I wanted to get back against the wood or pier because of the wind, I would talk to the boat and say, ‘Come on over, just a little more,” he added.
“You spend Christmas and holidays with the crew too. It was like a second family.”
The MV Vacationland was a high-speed vessel with open vehicle decks to increase available capacity.
It could carry around 160 vehicles at one time. And its sister ship, the MV Holiday Island, was also built specifically for the summer tourism traffic. Both vessels were designed to help manage increasing traffic volumes to the Island.
Once Confederation Bridge was built, the MV Vacationland was decommissioned. It was sold to the government of New Brunswick, but never put back into service as ferry. It was then sold to a company in Quebec for service on the St. Lawrence River.
Now, the vessel is docked in Quebec waiting for what will likely be its final resting place.
According to the sale description, the old ferry is priced at US$1.5 million. The present owner was in the process of converting the vessel for a “dredging project before his plans changed.” It is now being sold as is, and where it is.
The vessel still has 15 to 20 good operating years left in her, according to the description on the www.boats.com website.
All engines, generators, pumps, and valves were rebuilt and inspected during the past 18 months.
And, with some elbow grease, it has the potential to carry equipment or, be used as a ferry again, notes the sale listing.
For more information on the vessel for sale, visit: http://www.boats.com/power-boats/1971-317-x-67-double-end-truck-car-pax-ferry-updated-in-2010-4136810/#.WgNVh46Kn-X