BC Ferries has confirmed that the new vessel for the Central Coast, the Northern Sea Wolf, will have the capacity to carry 35 vehicles and 150 passengers.
“We can now confirm that the new vessel will carry 35 vehicles and up to 150 passengers,” said Darin Guenette Manager, Public Affairs with BC Ferries. “We have made modifications to the vessel to accommodate more overheight vehicles, such as RV’s, as this is intended to be a big tourism vessel.”
The Northern Sea Wolf, which is on its way from its home port in Greece this month, was modified overseas to remove two upper car decks on each side to better accommodate overheight vehicles such as RV’s and campers. Renovations to the interior of the vessel will begin once it reaches B.C.
“The ship is almost in the Panama Canal right now,” said Guenette. “She’s had one coat of paint over in Greece and will probably receive another touch up to the hull as well as the interior renovations once she’s home. We want her ready for June 2018.”
The vessel, a Greek ferry formerly named the Aqua Spirit, is considered an entirely new route – Route 28. It was purchased by the B.C. government for a reported $12.6M to revive the Port Hardy – Bella Coola direct sailing that was stripped from the coast nearly four years ago.
Communities from the Central Coast and the Interior banded together to pressure the government to reinstate the route, citing a major blow to tourism operators from the central coast all the way to the heart of the province.
Summer service is scheduled to begin in June 2018 and will run from mid-June through mid-September, with the possibility of extension. There will be five sailings per week from Port Hardy to Bella Coola. The ship will also provide service to other mid-coast ports of Bella Bella, Ocean Falls and Shearwater in the summer, as well as in the off-season.
The voyage between Port Hardy and Bella Coola will take approximately 10 hours and is planned to be conducted in the daytime to maximize tourism potential.