The MV Confederation is back in its berth.
Passengers told CBC News that as of approximately 4:30 p.m. Sunday, they were back on dry land in Caribou, N.S., a full eight hours after the ship left dock for its scheduled 8:30 a.m. departure for Wood Islands, P.E.I.
The Confederation experienced a steering issue shortly after leaving the dock, Northumberland Ferries said in a release around noon. As a result, the ship's captain dropped both anchors.
The company said the steering was fully functional, but the ship couldn't sail due to "tidal conditions" and other factors.
Northumberland Ferries said in an update after 5 p.m. that the vessel returned to its berth with the help of a Canadian Coast Guard vessel. Passengers and vehicles were able to disembark.
There are no reports of injuries, nor was there any damage or risks of pollution. The company said the ship will undergo inspections in Caribou with Transport Canada representatives before it resumes operations.
"Safety and customer care remain our company's priority," senior vice-president Mark Wilson said in the release. "We sincerely apologize to the passengers inconvenienced today."
'We were told it may be an all-day affair'
All Confederation departures were cancelled for the day.
At around 11 a.m., Northumberland Ferries sent out a text notification advising customers that the 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. departures from Wood Islands, and the 11:45 a.m., 3:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. departures from Caribou, were cancelled, citing technical issues with the ferry.
Gary Nowlan was on the ship. He said customers were told the stop was due to "mechanical problems."
"We were told that it may be an all-day affair, or it will be an all-day affair, and possibly an all-night affair," he said while he was still on the ferry.
"Nobody seems angry.... There's some families here with a bunch of little kids and they're taking it in stride. And what else can you do, right? So we're just playing cards, my wife and I."
The Confederation is one of two ferries operating between Caribou and Wood Islands. MV Saaremaa 1, the ship that was brought in to replace MV Holiday Island, started service two weeks ago.
The Holiday Island has been out of commission since late July after a fire in the engine room caused extensive damage to the ship and forced the evacuation of over 200 people.