Ice conditions looking good for ferry start

OWEN SOUND—Despite the heavy ice cover seen this past winter and in the early weeks of spring, the Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) is expressing confidence that the Chi-Cheemaun ferry will be making its annual season start this year on Friday, May 2, right on schedule.

“The tickets for the ‘Cruise up the Peninsula’ trip are very close to sold out,” cautioned OSTC CEO Susan Schrempf. “They have been selling very well as usual.”

The ice in the harbour outside her OSTC office in Owen Sound has cleared, she noted. “Reports are that the harbour at Tobermory is clear and there is just a bit of ice blocking the mouth of South Bay,” said Ms. Schrempf. “There is open water all the way up the peninsula and we have a couple of weeks yet to go.”

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The increased water levels, up a good 12 inches over last year, are a welcome bit of news as well, but Ms. Schrempf noted that water levels are not a concern. “We dealt with that issue last year when we had the bumpers fixed at the ferry docks,” she said. “But more room under the keel is always a good thing. The safety and comfort of our passengers is always paramount.”

[pullquote]The increased water levels, up a good 12 inches over last year, are a welcome bit of news as well, but Ms. Schrempf noted that water levels are not a concern. “We dealt with that issue last year when we had the bumpers fixed at the ferry docks,” she said. “But more room under the keel is always a good thing. The safety and comfort of our passengers is always paramount.”[/pullquote]

The ferry will be offering dinner cruises every Friday throughout the season on the 8 pm sailing from Tobermory and the 5:50 pm sailing from South Baymouth. “One Friday each month there will be dining with entertainment,” said Ms. Schrempf.

Another innovation recently announced is the introduction of a cruise excursion fare. This is a round trip excursion on the ferry where the passenger does not disembark, but stays onboard for the entire two-way trip. “It will be $25 per adult for the four hour trip, with a family fare option for two adults and any number of children between the ages of five and 16.

The excursion fare joins the accommodation and retail discount programs offered through the Destination Manitoulin program that will see a $5 discount at participating Manitoulin accommodations when paired with ferry travel and also a 10 percent discount offered at participating Island retailers.

From May 2 until June 19, the ferry schedule will see the Chi-Cheemaun make two return trips daily, Monday through Thursday, departing Tobermory at 8:50 am and arriving in South Baymouth at 10:50 am and departing Tobermory again at 1:30 pm to arrive at South Baymouth 3:30 pm. There are three Friday departures in the spring and fall sailing season. The extra sailing will depart Tobermory in the evening at 6:10 pm arriving, in South Baymouth at 7:55 pm. An additional spring sailing will take place on the Victoria Day Holiday, Monday, May 19, leaving Tobermory at 6:10 pm and arriving in South Baymouth at 7:55 pm.