About BC Ferries

New Cable Ferry for
Buckley Bay-Denman Island Service

The Baynes Sound Connector is the first Cable Ferry introduced into BC Ferries' fleet. We are very excited about the positive environmental and economic impact it is expected to have on our operations.

With the introduction of the cable ferry, there are new transit light operations in the Baynes Sound Channel. The transit lights inform boaters when the Baynes Sound Connector is in transit and when it is safe to cross the channel. Safety is BC Ferries’ first priority, so we urge all marine traffic either operating or transiting in the area to be aware of these changes, as well as the Navigation Act’s Ferry Cable Regulations (SOR/86-1026)*

New Transit Light Operations**

A set of red and green transit lights have been installed at both Buckley Bay and Denman West terminals facing oncoming marine traffic in each direction. The lights are in place to indicate when the Baynes Sound Connector is in transit.

New Transit Light Operations - Lights Green image   New Transit Light Operations - Lights Red image
When lights are green, this means the cable ferry is securely docked at either terminal and it is clear for boaters to cross the channel. 
  When lights are red, do not cross the channel. This indicates that the cable ferry is in transit, and cables may not be fully submerged underwater.
 

*SOR/86-1026 - No person in charge of a vessel shall navigate the vessel across a ferry cable when the red lights are illuminated at the on-shore terminal ends of the ferry cable.

**Exact location and angle of Transit Lights may differ from illustrations. These are for informational purposes only.

See the full poster pertaining to the new transit light operations in the Baynes Sound Channel.

 

Project Highlights

  • Vessel integration and sea trials are complete
  • Buckley Bay and Denman West terminal upgrades are complete
  • Regular operations and service levels will not be impacted; both the current carrying capacity and the current sailing schedule will remain the same
  • The cable ferry construction was awarded to Seaspan’s Vancouver shipyards

Thorough analyses of the cable ferry’s impact on the ocean and environment have been completed; the cable ferry has the following certifications/approvals to operate:

  • DFO under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
  • Transport Canada under the Navigable Waters Protection Act
  • License of Operation from the province’s Land Management Branch
 

Questions and Answers about the Cable Ferry Project

Q: Are there any special boating regulations pertaining to a cable ferry we should know?

A:It's important for all marine traffic (either operating or transiting) in the Baynes Sound Channel to be aware of the Ferry Cable Regulations (SOR/86-1026) under the Navigation Protection Act, particularly section 8 pertaining to crossing over a ferry cable.

Red and green LED lights have been installed at both the Buckley Bay and Denman West terminals. For the safety of everyone on the water, when the Baynes Sound Connector is in transit solid red lights will be illuminated signifying the ferry is in transit and it is not clear for boaters to cross the channel. The illumination of solid green lights signifies it is clear for boaters to transit the channel.

Q: What does section 8 of the Ferry Cable Regulations (SOR/86-1026) state?

A: Navigation Protection Act regulations indicate, "No person in charge of a vessel shall navigate the vessel across a ferry cable when the red lights are illuminated at the on-shore terminal ends of the cable ferry."

Q: Where can I find more information about the Ferry Cable Regulations?

A: For more information regarding the Ferry Cable Regulations (SOR/86-1026) and the Navigation Protection Act, boaters can visit justice.gc.ca.

Q: Why the change from a standard vessel to a cable ferry?

A: The cable ferry will provide significant benefits such as:

  • reduced operational costs
  • lowered fuel emissions and a smaller environmental footprint

The new cable ferry will hold the same level of service standards as the current self-propelled vessels in our fleet; however, with no propellers and three times the fuel efficiency as conventional ferries, a cable ferry is a much more sustainable and “greener” alternative to marine transportation.

Q: How will the cable ferry be staffed and operated?

A: The cable ferry will be staffed with BC Ferries employees who will all have the same training and focus on marine safety and customer service as other employees on vessels in our fleet.

Q: How will the cables be configured?

A: The cable ferry will operate with one ‘drive’ cable and two ‘guide’ cables. In the unlikely event a problem was to occur with the either drive mechanism or one of the cables, the ferry is designed to have a tug tow the ferry to the nearest terminal and unload its passengers and vehicles.

Q: Is it true this is the world’s longest cable ferry?

A: With a crossing of approximately 1900 metres, this cable ferry will be the longest one in the world. However, there are several vehicles (gondolas and streetcars included) in operation over greater distances with similar cable-assisted propulsion technologies.

Q: Will the cable ferry be able to sail in extreme weather conditions?

A: The cable ferry has been designed and is being built to safely operate in the same weather conditions as the current vessel it will be replacing. BC Ferries has conducted a thorough analysis of environmental conditions and incorporated these requirements into the design of the cable ferry.

Q: Won’t the chance of a possible collision with other ships be higher because the cable ferry cannot manoeuver off course?

A: The environment in which this ferry operates (Baynes Sound) is a relatively low marine traffic area. Cable ferries operate safely in very high traffic areas around the world.

Q: If the ferry is attached to a cable, then it cannot react to other ships in distress nearby, correct?

A: While it’s true that the ferry itself cannot react to other marine emergencies, the crew may provide communications assistance and deploy the onboard emergency boat if required.

Q: Won’t the cable be harmful and destructive to marine life or plants?

A: No. There is little to no plant or marine life affected by the ferry or the cable system. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has approved this cable ferry under the guidelines set out by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Additional questions or concerns

Please contact BC Ferries Customer Relations at: customer.relations@bcferries.com.

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