BC Ferries will hold a naming ceremony at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, February 19, for the first two Island-class ferries. Texada Island resident Sandy McCormick will attend as the community sponsor for the ship that is destined for the Blubber Bay-Westview Terminal route.
“It’s tradition for BC Ferries to have a christening ceremony for any new ships,” said McCormick, who also serves on the qathet Regional District board. “Because I recently retired after 10 years on the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee, and because I live on Texada Island, BC Ferries asked me to be the community sponsor for the new ship.”
The name of the ship remains a secret until the ceremony, which will take place at Port Hope Maritime in Victoria. Following the ceremony, the ship will continue a schedule of recommissioning, inspections and crew training before coming north to take over the route from the North Island Princess in late spring 2020.
“Having sponsors for ships is a long-standing maritime tradition, and they are usually women,” said Darin Guenette, manager of public affairs for BC Ferries. “The new Texada Island ferry will have two sponsors, with someone representing BC Ferries’ staff and Sandy representing the community.”
Texada Island will receive the first Island-class ferry, with the second heading to Port McNeill to replace the Quadra Queen II later in the spring.
“The Island class will help us standardize ships in the 20- to 50-car range,” said Guenette. “They will allow us to be more efficient in training, maintenance and parts for the ships, and will also allow us to put the same hull on a route when a ship needs a refit, so service will remain the same for our customers.”
The new ferry has a slightly higher vehicle capacity at 47 automobile equivalents (currently 39 on the North Island Princess), an accessible 101-seat visitors lounge on the car deck with outlets for electronic devices, and a quiet hybrid diesel/electric engine with the option of going fully electric when charging technology advances to make electricity available in the quantities required.
“We’re excited to bring a new vessel to Texada Island,” said Guenette. “We know the residents love the North Island Princess, but once they see the new ship operating, we think they’ll see it as an improvement that the community deserves.”
McCormick said although she is looking forward to the new ship, it will be a sad day when the old vessel goes.
“It is exciting to get a new ferry, but I am one of those people who loves the North Island Princess,” said McCormick. “I have so many good memories about her, like seeing pods of porpoises and orcas playing from the deck. She’s not responsible for those events necessarily, but she’s a big part of the experiences we as islanders collectively share.”
As the North Island Princess enters her last few months of service, residents who have stories or memories about the ferry to share are invited to email email@example.com.