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Foot ferry makes long-awaited first sailing from Nanaimo to Vancouver

Maiden voyage for Hullo ferries delayed two days due to winds and power outage

After gale force winds and a power outage caused delays earlier this week, foot passenger ferry service from Nanaimo to Vancouver has finally gotten afloat.

The false start earlier in the week meant sailings did not depart until Wednesday, Aug. 16, with the first sailing at 10 a.m. from Nanaimo. The Sthuqi set out on its inaugural sailing to Vancouver with 189 passengers, and the return trip, departing Vancouver at noon, had 126 onboard, said officials.

Rupesh Amin, Hullo co-founder, said adjustments were made over the past two days in preparation for the start of business.

“It was just giving ourselves some time to be thoughtful and methodical in terms of going over all of our systems, our procedures, our processes, and making [minor mechanical] tweaks and adjustments where we needed to to make sure that the team was ready to properly manoeuvre and sail the vessels,” Amin told media after the noon sailing arrived in Nanaimo.

Speaking to the News Bulletin last week, Alastair Caddick, Hullo CEO, said decisions to cancel sailings aren’t taken lightly and wind and weather conditions and wave height are factors considered by the company’s marine experts.

“Certainly, safety is the No. 1 priority for our operations,” he said.

Passengers who were on the noon sailing were pleased with the ride, including Julie Watkins, from Courtenay, who booked a premium seat.

“It was very smooth, there was hardly any change, just a couple of little [instances], it felt like you were on a horse and that was only for a few minutes … comfortable, spacious, it was lovely.”

Garth Ross from Nanaimo, who had comfort seating, also enjoyed his trip.

“It was smooth, clean, fast, surprisingly fast, we were booking along,” Ross told the News Bulletin. “Great views of both Vancouver and Nanaimo, good first impression.”

Amin said Hullo will work to regain consumer confidence after the rough start.

“I think it’s really just building up that trust through demonstrating to everyone that we have safety and reliability at the forefront of our minds, we’re never going to do anything that jeopardizes that,” he said. “And we will demonstrate through the service and the consistency of the service and reliability of the service that we’re here to stay.”

Hullo announced earlier this week that it was cancelling half its scheduled sailings through Aug. 30, moving to two round-trips a day, as a “deliberate and measured approach” to ensure long-term viability. Amin said the decision on when to return to a full schedule is forthcoming.

“And really, that’s because the biggest feedback that we’ve had is that guests want to know well in advance if there are potential cancellations,” he said. “And with the conditions that we’re looking at … we said, let’s make sure that we can take the two most popular sailings … Beyond that, we’ll be back up to four and then we’ll slowly move into a fuller schedule.”

For more information or to make an online reservation, go to https://hullo.com/.

RELATED: Nanaimo-Vancouver foot ferry cancels half August sailings



karl.yu@nanaimobulletin.com

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