Monday, November 26, 2007

A tale of two ferries

Today's Toronto Sun carries a story about the long and troubled effort to bring regular ferry service across Lake Ontario between Toronto and New York State.

The latest effort, which went into service in 2004 in the form of a gleaming new "fast ferry" called alternately the Spirit of Ontario and the Breeze, was a bust two-times over, going bankrupt under the stewardship of both a private company and the city of Rochester. The major obstacle was too little passenger traffic, largely due to competition with freeways and trains, a lack of official permission to carry trucks, and indifference to the whole project on the Toronto end, where it took more than two years to build a suitable customs terminal for the boat.

In its usual better-late-than-never style, Toronto finally got around to finishing the facility. But it wasn't enough to save the beleaguered Spirit. Now little more than a curiosity, the multi-storey, futuristic-looking customs terminal stands not far from Cherry Beach, where it waits in silence to welcome a ferry that will never come.

The Spirit, meanwhile, has been dispatched to Spain, where she carries passengers on to Morocco under the catchy name Tanger Jet II.

To read the Toronto Sun story, click here.

Meanwhile, down Lake Erie way, late-season troubles are bedeviling the massive car ferry MV Jiimaan, which plies the waters between Kingsville and Leamington and Pelee Island. Last week, the rather top-heavy looking craft was lashed by high winds and, depending on who you believe, was either blown off course and ran over a fishing net or the net was blown into the boat's path. In any case, one of her engines was disabled by the net, which had tangled itself around a propeller shaft. Worse, the engine went down just as she was attempting to dock at Kingsville, where the harbour is a tight fit for the Jiimaan to begin with.

Down to only one engine, docking in Kingsville was no longer possible, so the captain wisely decided to divert to the larger Leamington Dock, several kilometres to the east. There, the Jiimaan unloaded a human cargo consisting of twenty-one undoubtedly shaken passengers.

But it didn't all end well. A spokesperson described the cost involved in repairing the Jiimaan's propeller shaft as "significant."

To read the Windsor Star story about the Jiimaan's troubles, click here.

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