COUNTRY HARBOUR – Those who want to take the cable ferry between Country Harbour and Port Bickerton, whether to enjoy the scenery or shorten commuting time, will have to wait a little longer. Due to a delay in obtaining equipment, the return of the service has been pushed to mid-July.
The Stormont II served the route for more than 40 years and was scheduled for replacement, when it broke down in November. Prior to the mechanical failure, it was hoped that the Stormont II could keep the service running until the new ferry could be delivered in May.
May has come and gone, and the new ferry is not online. The hold up, Minister of Transportation and Active Transit Lloyd Hines told The Journal June 4, was the delayed delivery of a critical part of the ferry machinery.
“It’s the winch, which makes the whole world go round as far as a cable ferry goes. [It] is being custom manufactured in the U.S. and it was supposed to be here the middle of this month [June] and now it has been delayed for a month,” he said.
In the meantime, work has moved forward at the site, including the installation of new ferry slips.
Hines said, “The work started on April 10 or 11 and they have been diligently working away over there and they’re truly completed except they have this critical part … I wasn’t very happy when I heard about this delay and they have assured me that July 18 is the day.”
Next steps include moving the new ferry from Meteghan, where it was built, to Country Harbour by tugboat. Hines said, “We’ll get it on site around the 8th of July and then there’ll be some sea trials and then back into service once we get the crew all trained on this brand-new boat.”
Hines added that the replacement of the Country Harbour ferry had been “an odyssey. I must say, and I know it is inconvenient for people, but you know, there was talk, when I got elected in 2013, about abandoning that ferry altogether … then fortunately enough [I] became the minister of transportation and was able to have the entire faculty replaced, so we should be good for another 40 years. The old ferry that is coming out of there is 42 years old.”
When the new ferry does arrive, it will be christened with a name selected last week, June 2, at St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy. Names were submitted to the Name the Ferry contest held at the school. Out of more than 200 submissions, Alivia Mansfield, a Grade 2 student, was chosen as the winner. Theodore O’Hara will be the name of the new ferry. O’Hara was the first lighthouse keeper in Mansfield’s hometown, Port Bickerton. (see story on page 9)
While the ferry is out of service, a detour is in place. It runs from Port Bickerton on Route 211 to Route 7 and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road and onto Route 316.