We often receive many inquiries when we post delays and cancellations; especially when it’s short notice. Our goal is to adhere to the scheduled crossings  and add extras departures as needed to clear all traffic by the end of each day. Unfortunately the weather has always played a significant part in the day to day operations and this is not always possible.

The captains on the Qajaq W and Kamutik W have considerable experience as regards operations in the Strait of Belle Isle and the Labrador Coast. Along with this experience there are a number of factors taken into consideration before departures are delayed or cancelled including:

  • Both the forecast for the Strait of Belle Isle and the Northeast Gulf  are considered since we are on the borderline of both. Because of this we sometimes get the weather for either area and it is best to pay attention to the worst forecast from both areas. The Labrador Service means we have several marine areas to consider.
  • The marine weather, land forecast, and any other means such as Windy.com are referenced.
  • The actual hourly weather conditions from Blanc Sablon airport and Ferrolle Point at referenced for the Qajaq as well as points on the North Labrador coast. When these are operational they give a good indication what is happening with the wind over the last 24 hours. Keep in mind that at the dock the wind speed we receive is sometimes 7-10 knots more than at the observing station.
  • The direction of the wind is a factor as well. Southwest winds bring bigger seas than Northeasterly winds affect the SBI service as the service is open to the Gulf. Sometimes when there are high SW winds in the Gulf-Port Au Port area there will be bigger seas here even though we may not have experienced the same wind conditions. The swell from Northeasterly wind generally tends to subside faster.
  • The time when the wind is forecast increase or decrease is considered as well. Sometimes it can be forecast for late overnight, early morning, late morning, near noon, etc.
  • Even when the wind does subside, especially with Southwesterly winds, the sea state is still considerable and this will decrease with time or a change in wind direction. Just because the wind drops out the sea state may prevent crossing.
  • Depending on the forecast we may move to the alternate port for the night to ensure safety of the vessel. For example, with high southwest wind it is best to overnight in St. Barbe for the SBI service. Refuge ports with the Labrador Service depends on severity of weather and ships proximity to those ports.
  • Any warning that are in effect, such as freezing spray warnings, are also considered.
  • During a crossing the actual conditions that we are experiencing are not always as forecast or conditions deteriorate sooner than expected. This can result in remaining crossings being delayed or cancelled.
  • When there are other ships passing through or in the area we can contact them for an update on actual conditions. For example, on the afternoon of December 9th, the CSL tanker Tuvaq W was off Blanc Sablon. The information given was that conditions hadn’t improved, the sea state was poor. This helped with the decision to cancel the crossings.
  • The Captains extensive knowledge and past experiences is key to determining what needs to be done.

While maintaining departures times is high priority and we understand that our customers need to get to where they’re going, we must ensure our operation is conducted with a safety as the highest priority.