frozen Boblo Island ferry replaced by airboats


published: 27 January 2014
by: Aadel Haleem

The ferry service between Amherstburg and Boblo Island, Windsor Essex County, Ontario, Canada, has been cancelled.

For the first time in at least a decade the waterway linking the mainland and the island has frozen solid. The icebreaker and ferry that serve the small island community of approximately 70 people are frozen in place at their dock on the Detroit River.

Boblo Island  airboats

Ferry service between Amherstburg and Boblo Island has been cancelled so four airboats are being used instead.

“Despite our efforts with our icebreaker we are not able to keep the channel open to let the ferry go back and forth,” said Cindy Prince, spokesperson for Amico, the company that operates the ferry.

Normally, the ferry runs every 20 minutes. Beginning Sunday, Amico began offering on-call airboat service. Airboats, of fanboats, skim across the ice. They’re popular in the Florida Everglades.

“We’ve always had the contingency plan in place. This is the first time we’ve actually had to implement it,” Prince said. “People that want transportation … they’ve been advised they can contact the ferry captain and he’ll make arrangements to bring them across.”

Joe Meloche took an airboat to the mainland Monday morning. He called Plan B “terrific.” “It’s cold, as you can imagine. You’re right out in the open. But it moves right along. It’s not a bad ride at all,” he said. Meloche estimates the trip from island to Amherstburg to be approximately three minutes. “It zips right along,” he said.

Islanders are given free coffee and a car service when they reach the mainland.

“Service has been terrific. We’re in the know all the time. They’re doing their darnedest to be here,” Meloche said. “Instead of viewing it as an inconvenience, residents are viewing it as a unique experience,” Prince said of the airboat service. Meloche said he’s not worried about service should there be a medical emergency on the island. “I’m not sure what they’ll do. But with the airboats and the coast guard next to us, I don’t think there will be a problem,” he said. Prince said ferry service will be restored as soon as possible. “It’s very much weather dependent,” Prince said.

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit on Monday issued a cold weather alert, in place until Thursday, when temperatures are expected to be warmer.

View Boblo Island ferry in a larger map

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