BC Ferries deckhands Travis Young (left) and Todd Nickless sit on the back of an ice-covered semi-truck aboard the Nimpkish en route from Bella Bella to Bella Coola on Saturday evening. Photo submitted

Extreme weather covers BC Ferries’ Nimpkish in sheet of ice as it sails

Frozen vessel thawing in the Bella Coola harbour

A BC Ferries vessel and some of its cargo are thawing at the Government Warf in Bella Coola after quite a night at sea.

“It was like something out of the movies,” said deckhand Travis Young of how the sea spray froze directly onto the Nimpkish as it sailed from Bella Bella to Bella Coola Saturday night.

“Waves were freezing all over the boat, it was building and building,” Young told Black Press Monday. “When you are training, you take courses and see things about de-icing, but I never thought I’d see it on the Central Coast.”

According to Environment Canada, the Bella Coola area received temperatures as low as -17.5 C and wind gust speeds up to 52 kilometres an hour on Saturday, Feb. 2 and gusts up to 81 kilometres an hour the next day.

Read more: Extreme cold warning issues for B.C. Interior

“It started freezing about three hours out of Bella Bella,” Young said. “We made it to Bella Coola about 1:30 in the morning, which was later than usual. We were fighting a huge headwind on the Dean Channel and going slower than usual.”

The Nimpkish always has a captain, a mate and two deckhands on board with two people on the bridge at all times, Young said.

Last Friday the ship had sailed the eight hour trip from Bella Coola to Bella Bella, where the crew spent the night, and then left for the return sail to Bella Coola on Saturday afternoon.

There were one passenger vehicle and seven passengers on the ship Saturday and moving around the boat became increasingly dangerous, Young said.

“At one point there was a foot thick of icy slush on the deck,” Young added. “We’d tell people when we thought it was safe to go to the washroom or tell them to sit down when we knew it would not be safe.”

Ice was also forming on the windshield of the bridge and when it was time to dock in Bella Coola, Young and the other deckhand, Todd Nickless, were scraping off the ice so the captain could see.

“The lines were all frozen when we were tying up at the dock too, but we got her done,” Young said.

Originally from Maple Ridge, Young has worked as a deckhand on the Nimpkish for two years.

He moved to Bella Coola five years ago, following his brother who had moved there for an affordable lifestyle.

“I was working at the harbour as a wharfinger and met the ferry captain who told me I should come and work on the ferry.”

Young studied the bridge watchman program at BCIT as well as the Marine Emergency Duties course from Transport Canada and applied.

He’s a casual employee for now and will be working on the Northern Sea Wolf when it goes into operation this summer.

As for his first ice adventure, Young said it was neat to be a part of.

“Our highest concern was safety.”

Young said the Nimpkish’s next sailing is Thursday, Feb. 7, which is earlier than normal because they will accommodate passengers needing to connect to travel by ferry to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament.

Read more: Lax Kw’alaams prepares to lead All Native opening ceremonies

The Central Coast has seen strong winds in recent days and is still under an Arctic outflow warning. The warning is in effect for the Central Coast and inland sections.

Environment Canada said the bitterly cold conditions will persist through Tuesday, but should improve by Wednesday.

Residents should be prepared for unusually cold temperatures and strong winds.



[email protected]

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Icy slush was building on the deck of the Nimpkish Saturday evening at it sailed from Bella Bella to Bella Coola.

The Nimpkish back at the Government Wharf in Bella Coola. Photo submitted

Just Posted

New MP Taylor Bachrach makes his first trip to Bella Coola

Bachrach said he is keen to get to know his riding and the members of his constituency

Bachrach rejects calls for police action against demonstrators

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says only way out of crisis is “true nation-to-nation” talks

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

‘A long way to go’: UNBC hosts Moose Hide Campaign gathering on Feb. 24

The event is a part of a movement to stand up against violence inflicted on women and children

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Most Read