NEWS

Ice-jammed ferry in strait off Newfoundland wears down passenger patience

03/10/2015 08:49 EDT | Updated 05/10/2015 05:59 EDT
Passengers who have already waited a week to board a ferry between northern Newfoundland and southern Quebec are growing increasingly frustrated by sea ice that has filled the Strait of Belle Isle.

Glynis Penney, who has been anxiously waiting for the ice to clear off St. Barbe on the Newfoundland side of the waterway, told CBC News she is is running out of more than just patience. 

"We left home on the 27th of February for a doctor's appointment, which took about 15 minutes, and we've been here ever since. I was ready to go back [last] Tuesday," she said.

"We've now run out of medication. Both my husband and I are on medication, we're both on blood pressure medication. [It's] stressful, very stressful."

She and her husband are travelling home to Labrador via the ferry terminal at Blanc-Sablon, Que., on the provincial border. It's a distance of about 45 kilometres and takes a little under two hours to complete in good weather.

The ferry MV Apollo has been stuck for over a week in St. Barbe, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, waiting for a break in the thick sea ice so it can sail across the strait.

The delay bubbled over on Sunday, with about 20 people staging a peaceful protest to voice their frustrations at not being able to get home.

- Police called to end protest on Strait of Belle Isle ferry 

Icebreakers have been unable to get through to assist the Apollo, and further south in the province Marine Atlantic ferries have been delayed due to heavy ice in the Cabot Strait. 

Worst ice in 10 years

A number of transport trucks are also stuck, including some that are filled with food waiting to be brought to communities throughout Labrador.

One truck driver told CBC's Jeremy Eaton that he was instructed to stop waiting and to turn around and return back to central Newfoundland.

Rebecca Acton-Bond, with the Canadian Coast Guard's ice operations, said the icebreakers will start clearing the way as soon as possible.

"Everybody's working as hard as they can," she said.

"Last year everyone was talking about how much of an exceptional year it is — and right now we're even a little bit above that, so everybody needs to take that into consideration as well." 

The Coast Guard says a larger icebreaker — The Terry Fox — is being dispatched to help ferry passengers stuck in St Barbe.

It's not expected to arrive until Wednesday, however, which means at least one more day of waiting for frustrated passengers. 

MORE:cbcNews