April 11, 2014






Adventure taking toll on islanders with breakdowns
by Arlene Benham


     Frustration peaked among stranded islanders on April 4, when the Grand Manan Adventure experienced mechanical problems, resulting in cancellation of the last two round trips of the day. The ferry remains docked in Blacks Harbour.
     The Adventure had recently returned to service after a cracked oil line on March 3 caused the engine to overheat, damaging a turbocharger, which had to be replaced. The island was without ferry service again until Saturday evening, April 5, while the Grand Manan V was hurried out of winter storage.
     Coastal Transport General Manager Gregg Ryder says, "Our chief engineer heard a noise in the turbocharger and decided to tie up and investigate." A problem was identified with the new turbocharger, but Ryder says the details must await an analysis at the factory in Illinois. This one will follow its predecessor back to the manufacturer. "They need to test it for their quality control process, to understand where failures occur," Ryder says. "The manufacturer has been very cooperative; they had a guy there [Sunday]." Coastal is presently looking for another turbocharger, with the help of the manufacturer. For such a large item, "there isn't a shelf with lots of them in stock."
     He adds, "When we heard the issue might be the turbocharger, we decided to bring in the Grand Manan V team," so they could begin working on the backup ferry, which had been laid up again, "not as thoroughly" this time, but all the water is drained from systems for storage and ferries must be inspected before going back into service. "By the time they determined it was the turbocharger, [the other crew] had put in a good many hours on the Grand Manan V."
     "Every crossing we miss has an effect on the travelling public," Ryder acknowledges. "We don't know where people are going or why, but we assume everyone is travelling for a very important reason, so there's a lot of pressure on us to get the boat running." He explains that Coastal's "performancebased" contract with the provincial government "is set up to make sure the province gets what it paid for, scheduled trips, on time. Our priority is taking care of the travelling public."
     While many islanders praise the Adventure's smooth ride in rough weather, others are increasingly vocal about the number of breakdowns. At the April 7 council meeting, Mayor Dennis Greene said he emailed provincial Premier David Alward on Saturday afternoon "expressing Grand Mananers' frustration" with the ongoing problems. He says Alward phoned him "within eight minutes. He said he was frustrated, too. He was very sincere. I take him at his word that he will look into it." Greene says Coastal Transport will be asked to prepare a full briefing for the premier and minister of transportation, and that he is hoping for another meeting with the deputy minister.
     The Adventure has been plagued with mechanical problems since its arrival in 2011, including issues with bow thrusters and other turbocharger breakdowns last summer. Ryder says, "There is an exercise under way currently to examine how the engines run, to figure out the optimal way to run them ( to make sure equipment is not run in a way to shorten the life of the engines. Our director of vessel operations is a first-class engineer, and we also rely on the manufacturer." He describes the process as "complicated," with the load on the engines being a key factor, "which doesn't always translate directly to speed."
     The Grand Manan V is scheduled for a twoweek regular maintenance period in Newfoundland in midMay. Currently, Ryder says, "all the schedules are still standing unless we find out something that indicates the Adventure won't be in service."
     With the search for another turbocharger still in progress, no timeline for the completion of repairs had been set by press time.

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