COMOX, B.C. – Ferry users awoke to news that sailings between Comox and Powell River had been cancelled.

The affected sailings were the 6:15 a.m. departure from Comox, and the 8:05 a.m. sailing leaving Powell River.

The company said this was due to an employee not making it into work on the Salish Orca, the vessel that services the route.

The vessel resumed service for the day starting with the 9:55 a.m. departure from Comox’s Little River terminal.

“If we are short a crew member that’s in a critical position, we are not able to sail that vessel. We do have to follow Transport Canada regulations, and when we have employees in safety sensitive positions, we’re just not in a position to sail until we have a full crew compliment,” said Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries’ Executive Director of Public Affairs.

Marshall was not able to expand on why the crew member was not at work this morning. However, she said they do have relief personnel.

“I know our crewing department was working very hard this morning to try to find a replacement crew member. Unfortunately, they were not able to get somebody immediately so we did have to cancel that first round trip,” she explained.

“It’s very rare for it to happen, but we do have 4700 employees and on occasion, somebody may take ill and not be able to show up for a shift for whatever reason. Our crewing department does work very hard to try to back-fill employees in this type of situation.”

Marshall said although they do have a bank of reserve employees, sometimes in a rare occurrence like this, for the early sailings, it’s more difficult to find one of those employees.

“We certainly apologize to any customer that was inconvenienced this morning. Again, it’s a very rare occurrence that we would have to cancel a sailing due to a lack of crew members, and we certainly do our best to make sure everybody is on time and I know our crews work very at doing that as well,” Marshall said.

Photo caption: The Salish Orca serves the route between Comox and Powell River. Photo courtesy BC Ferries.