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Watch: There used to be a $7 hovercraft ferry between downtown Vancouver and Nanaimo

It only lasted for part of 1969.
This hovercraft spent a few months in the late 60s and early 70s as a ferry between Nanaimo and Vancouver.

One of the first regularly scheduled hovercraft ferries in the world operated out of Vancouver - but it didn't last long.

The Pacific Hovercraft route went from Vancouver to Nanaimo twice daily, zipping across the Strait of Georgia at up to 60 km/h (in calm weather) and making the crossing in under an hour. At $7 it cost about the same as a BC Ferries trip, which took about twice as long; that fare in 2023 dollars is about $50.

The company started with just one 35-passenger vessel making the crossings twice a day in February 1969. While there were plans to expand the service with more trips between Nanaimo and Vancouver, and adding trips down to Victoria, the company petered out before the end of '69 and went into receivership in 1971.

While it didn't last long, it did break ground (or is it waves?) as the first scheduled hovercraft ferry service in North America at the time, according to a United Press International wire story at the time.

The vessel itself, called the "Sure" (aka SR.N6), had a long career, despite only operating on B.C.'s Pacific coast for a short time. It was launched in 1966 and worked between England and France, even carrying famed French president Charles de Gaulle, according to a site that tracks ferries.

It was then sold to Pacific Hovercraft, who used it for part of 1969; while that venture didn't last long the hovercraft was still in good shape and went back to the UK where it was modified and used as a demonstration vehicle. It was also used for surveys.

The vessel now sits at the Hovercraft Museum in the UK, as part of their collection of historic hovercrafts, including a James Bond film prop (that actually worked), a Mini Cooper that was converted into a hovercraft, and military hovercrafts.

If anyone has a pamphlet from the short-lived ferry, it might be worth some money; someone is trying to sell a four-page brochure online for nearly $200.