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Sailings to Tsawwassen reduced as Coastal Celebration sidelined for repairs

Four daily round-trips between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen will be cancelled until the ferry returns to service, likely at the end of next week
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Built in 2008, the Coastal Celebration can hold up to 310 cars and 1,604 passengers and crew. Via B.C. Ferries.

After experiencing a persistent mechanical problem, Coastal Celebration will be out of ­service until repairs are completed, likely at the end of next week, B.C. Ferries said Wednesday.

That means four daily round-trips between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen will be cancelled until the 525-foot-long ferry returns to service from dry dock.

Taking the ferry out of service in the middle of the summer season is a blow for the system. Built in 2008, Coastal Celebration can hold up to 310 cars and 1,604 passengers and crew.

But spokesperson Karen Johnston said B.C. Ferries will be able to accommodate all of the approximately 7,200 affected bookings on alternate sailings from July 19 through to July 26.

Customers will be notified of the change to their bookings and given the option to move or cancel at no charge, she said.

Three other ferries are on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route: Spirit of British Columbia and Spirit of Vancouver Island — the Spirit class ferries are the largest in the fleet — and Queen of New Westminster.

An extra round trip for the Spirit of Vancouver Island will be scheduled on Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 11 p.m., allowing for a return trip at 1 a.m. Those sailings can be booked as of Thursday afternoon.

Johnston noted that for travel between the Island and mainland, sailings are also available between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay, and between Tsawwassen and Duke Point in Nanaimo.

B.C. Ferries urged customers without bookings on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route to ­consider travelling as foot passengers, since the amount of space for vehicles with no reservations will be reduced while Coastal Celebration is out for repairs.

Coastal Celebration was removed from service on Wednesday afternoon, with all reserved traffic shifted to alternate sailings. B.C. Ferries was contacting passengers to give them a new sailing time.

Some sailings were also cancelled Tuesday. Prior to that, the vessel was out of service during the busy Canada Day long weekend, when its annual refit stretched past the original ­completion date.

The vessel will return to ­Seaspan’s dry dock in North Vancouver on Monday.

Crew members reported a suspected leak of hydraulic oil, a light mineral oil, early this week. It was confirmed after a dive team investigated, said Stephen Jones, executive director of engineering for B.C. Ferries.

The leak was caused by an ineffective blade seal — the vessel is equipped with controllable pitch propellers holding blades that move in relation to the propeller, allowing for a change in direction and in the amount of thrust.

Propellers are powered by hydraulics, the source of the leak.

It’s estimated that the ferry was leaking about seven litres per hour when it was operating, Jones said. The leak did not affect performance.

Before it goes into dry dock, a containment boom will be set up around the ferry as a precaution.

The leaking area will be shut down as the vessel waits for repairs to start. A spill-response team will monitor the situation.

B.C. Ferries is not yet able to confirm that the leak is related to the refit, but Jones said he expects that will be determined during repairs.

B.C. Ferries and Transport Canada monitored Coastal Celebration between Monday and Wednesday, when it was decided to take the vessel out of service for repairs.

For current sailing and departure information, go to Twitter @BCFerries, check current conditions or go to bcferries.com.

cjwilson@timecolonist.com

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