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Chi Cheemaun Departure Delayed - Again

Chi Cheemaun Departure Delayed - Again

Posted by Admin on May 05th 2014

The start of the Chi-Cheemaun’s sailing season, which had been set for last Friday, has been postponed for the second straight year.

The start of the Chi-Cheemaun’s sailing season, which had been set for last Friday, has been postponed for the second straight year.

This time the delay is only expected to last a couple of days instead of a couple weeks, as was the case last year when low water levels were to blame.


Susan Schrempf, chief excecutive officer of Owen Sound Transportation Company, said the problem this year is ice buildup in Georgian Bay, which has blocked the ferry’s route between its winter berth in Owen Sound and the port at Tobermory.


“We’re disappointed because we work all winter to get the ferry ready to start a season. We don’t like sitting here. We want to be moving. But we don’t move when it’s not safe to do so and it’s definitely not safe at the moment,” she said in an interview Tuesday.


OSTC hopes to start regular service between Tobermory and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island Saturday afternoon, she said, but the first trip won’t likely be until Sunday.


The agency will continue to monitor ice conditions and communicate with the Canadian Coast Guard and Environment Canada, she said. It will know Friday if the season will start this weekend.


She said the ferry will head up to Tobermory as soon as it is safe to do so. Ice conditions are not expected to change before Friday. Schrempf said a significant shift in wind direction overnight Monday pushed ice from eastern Georgian Bay to the western half.


“For most of the season, the ice is attached to the shore. At this point in the season the ice is still thick but it’s let go of the shore and it’s actually broken up and it moves in a mass. So what’s happening now with gale-force winds is not only is it moving in a mass across to our side of the bay, but it’s piling on top of itself as well. That’s going to make for more difficult melting conditions,” she said.


OSTC has cancelled its annual spring cruise fundraiser, which had been scheduled for Thursday, due to the ice conditions. A portion of the money raised from the Owen Sound-to-Tobermory trip is donated to a local community group.


This spring, the money was to go to the Grey Bruce Sauble Sno-Riders club. The group will now be the sponsor of the fall cruise.


Schrempf said people who paid for the cruise can either keep their ticket and use it for the autumn trip from Tobermory to Owen Sound or return it to OSTC for a refund.


Last year, the Chi-Cheemaun sailing season began two weeks late -- just before the Victoria Day long weekend -- due to low water levels in Lake Huron which had left the dock fenders too high to accommodate the ferry during docking.


Water levels rose high enough for the season to start. New fenders were also installed

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