Straits ferry Apollo iced in for Day 5

2018 eyed as big year for Labrador transportation — on land, underwater and at sea

It's Day 5 of waiting for people stranded on both sides of the Strait of Belle Isle as ice pushed inshore by high winds keeps the ferry Apollo grounded in St. Barbe.

An icebreaker was sent to the area Thursday, but ferry crossings were cancelled again because of ice conditions.

"Mother nature will throw this stuff at you once in a while," Labrador Marine manager Dave Leyden told the Corner Brook Morning Show. 

"There has been no possibility of crossing at all this week. [Last] Friday was a hard crossing — we had two ice breakers with us and it still took 14 to 15 hours." 

The extreme ice pressure was caused when sustained northerly winds blew ice from Labrador into the Strait of Belle Isle. Westerly winds then compacted the ice into the shore at St. Barbe. 

Leyden said some passengers have chosen to leave their cars and fly to Labrador, while others have had no choice but to wait. 

"Those people are still in hotels. Once we are finally able to move we will make those people a priority."

Changing winds

Things began to look up overnight Wednesday as winds began to shift from the east, with gale force winds from the north east scheduled for Thursday, but Rebecca Acton-Bond, a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the weather still poses challenges.  

"It's a perfect storm of bad weather and pressure for the Apollo. We're really at the mercy of Mother Nature until she shifts the wind direction the other way. Because the wind has been blowing from the west for so long, it's going to take a while to relieve that pressure."

Dave Leyden said Labrador Marine is staying on top of the situation.

"We've got an ice breaker on the way up there. They are going to be there mid-morning and they will assess the situation, but we have to make sure it's safe to get the vessel off the dock," said Leyden on Thursday morning.

"As soon as we're able to go we'll be moving right away. People need to keep an eye on the updates, because the situation can change."

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