The Nova Star unloading vehicles and passengers at the Yarmouth ferry terminal. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
Four Nova Star ferry crossings are being cancelled next week to allow for the reinstallation of the ship’s permanent Marine Evacuation System (MES).
The system includes an inflatable chute and four life rafts that are deployed during an emergency.
Nova Star Cruises company spokesperson Sean Lewis says during an April inspection by the US Coast Guard, Nova Star was required to deploy its MES.
“It’s quite a big piece of equipment. (Once deployed) it takes time to get it repackaged. It has to go back to the manufacturer to be repacked and reconfigured,” he says.
This couldn’t occur in time with the manufacturer to reinstall Nova Star's MES prior to the ferry’s May 15 maiden voyage, so instead a fully-functioning loaner MES has been onboard the boat.
“It’s the exact same system, it just wasn’t the permanent system for the boat,” says Lewis. “The original system is now ready to be put back on the boat, it just takes time to do it.
“There’s no issues that are causing this to be happening,” he stresses, saying it’s just a matter of switching the loaner with the original system.
Lewis says the life rafts that are part of the MES are not the only life rafts on Nova Star.
As a result of the required maintenance, the following crossings are being cancelled:
• Tuesday, May 27: Portland departure
• Wednesday, May 28: Yarmouth and Portland departures
• Thursday, May 29: Yarmouth departure
Nova Staris scheduled to resume its regular service on Thursday, May 29, departing Portland at 9 p.m. EST and arriving in Yarmouth the next morning at 8 a.m. AST.
Passengers that are booked on any of the cancelled crossings will be refunded and given the opportunity to rebook passage on future crossings.
Meanwhile, since launching the ferry service Nova Star Cruises has made an adjustment in Portland and in Yarmouth to how the ferry docks to facilitate the loading and unloading of vehicles.
In Portland the ferry now sees vehicles loaded and unloaded through the stern of the vessel, as opposed to the bow, which is how things were initially being done in the beginning. This means in Yarmouth the vehicles are brought on and off the boat through the bow.
Steve Durrell, the company’s chief operating officer, says the docking change was necessitated by ramping issues at the Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland.
“We discovered it is easier to load unload from the stern in Portland,” Durrell says. He says the change doesn’t really have an impact in Yarmouth as far as the loading and unloading of vehicles goes.
He does say, however, the company will be making a modification to the door on Nova Star’s port side so that they can use the foot passenger pedway that links the vessel with the terminal building. Without doing this foot passengers are having to walk on and off of the ferry in Yarmouth via the vehicle ramp at the bow.