Guysborough County ferry out of commission until May

GUYSBOROUGH: Due to mechanical problems, the Country Harbour ferry is out of service and a new one will only be available in the spring.

The Stormont II, which had been making crossings for over 40 years, has been out of service since November, and according to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR), it cannot be repaired.

“This is disappointing news, especially during a year that has already been hard,” transportation minister Lloyd Hines said in a press release. “We had hoped the old ferry would take us through to the arrival of the brand new ferry. The Stormont II served the community well, but unfortunately the mechanical issues are significant.”

Municipality of the District of Guysborough Warden Vernon Pitts indicated a replacement vessel capable of carrying 15 cars was announced in 2019 to replace the outdated Stormont II, which can only cary 12 cars.

“It’s unfortunate for the municipality and the users of the ferry to have this disruption of service,” Pitts said. “But come May we will have a brand new ferry that can hold additional vehicles ready to make crossings in Country Harbour again.”

During this pause, Pitts said a new cable system will be installed and the ferry slips will be upgraded for the new vessel.

While there is an interruption in ferry service, the DTIR set up a detour, running from Port Bickerton on Route 211, to Route 7, and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road, and onto Route 316.

“The mechanical issues with the ferry were just too much for it, it didn’t last on the water as long as TIR thought it would,” Pitts said. “All we can do now is wait until the new ferry is ready and continue with the detour in place.”

According to statistics provided by the province, the Country Harbour ferry makes 13,000 voyages a year, carrying 25,000 passengers and 15,000 vehicles.