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Archives: Hovercraft ferry service to Vancouver Island launched

This day in Vancouver history: Feb. 23, 1969

A new passenger ferry service between Vancouver and Nanaimo launches with a Norwegian-made, 35-seater hovercraft that had previously been used to cross the English Channel. Pacific Hovercraft offered hour-long crossings across the Strait of Georgia aboard the "Sure"  for $7, less than half the time it took much larger B.C. Ferries vessels which charged the same rate. Powered by a 900-horsepower Bristol Siddeley gas turbine, the 15-metre-long SR-N6 was capable of speeds of nearly 100 km/h regardless of whether it was travelling on land, snow or water, and was chosen because of its ability to float over the many logs found in the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland

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The transit service lasted only four months before the company declared bankruptcy, and the amphibious vessel was sold for seismic survey work in the Beaufort Sea. It was the first of three failed attempts in total to provide reliable passenger-only ferry service to Vancouver Island, with yet another currently under negotiation.

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