The Vancouver Sun 23 Jan 1992
VANCOUVER-VICTORIA FERRY'S FIRST TRIAL PASSES WITH FLYING COLORS: Nautical commute nearly ripple-free
ABOARD ROYAL VICTORIA - Just as advertised, it's fast, quiet, cheaper than flying, and vibration-free.
Most of the time, at speeds in excess of 70 kilometres per hour, it won't put a ripple in your morning coffee.
But in metre-high seas with a 20-knot southeasterly blowing across the Georgia Strait, hang on for a bumpy ride.
It's like flying in a jetliner during moderate turbulence - you're advised to stay in your seat.
Wednesday's maiden voyage from Vancouver to Victoria during sea trials aboard the 302-passenger "Flying Cat" Royal Victoria was a good test for the vessel and its trainee crew.
Both battled the weather and passed with flying colors.
On Feb. 2, the Royal Victoria and its sister ship Royal Vancouver, owned by Vancouver-based Royal Sealink Express, begin revenue service between downtown Vancouver and Victoria.
It's billed as Canada's "first high-speed ferry," but make that the first one since the short-lived Boeing jetfoil in 1986.
The two Norwegian-built craft will make three trips a day in each direction over the 135-kilometre harbor-to-harbor route. Scheduled travel time is two-and-a-half hours.
The craft arrived in Vancouver from Europe last weekend. Now RSE and its 80 employees have two weeks to get up to speed.
"The learning curve is straight up," commented senior captain Steve Schenck in an interview. "We've had lots of classroom time. Now what we need is hands on."
In the airline-style cockpit of the Royal Victoria, RSE's Canadian officers put the sleek 40-metre craft through its paces watched by a Norwegian training master.
"Its sea capabilities are excellent," said Capt. Darlson Flamond, as he steered a course into Active Pass. "As far as manoeuvrability is concerned, it's probably the best I have ever been on."
Flamond's last job was navigation officer on a 275,000 deadweight tons supertanker trading between the Mississippi and the Arabian Gulf.
Before that, he skippered private, computer-operated sailing ships in the Mediterranean.
In the first officer's seat, Capt. Gary Friedman agreed it's good to be home - and serving under the Canadian flag.
His last job was chief officer on an offshore towing and salvage barge in the South China Sea, based in Singapore.
The Vancouver Sun 20 Aug 1993
High speed ferry service to the Island runs aground
The Norwegian president of Royal Sealink Express said Thursday his company's failure probably means there will be no more attempts to operate high-speed ferry service between Vancouver and Victoria.
``I don't see how any private company can operate a fast ferry service because we know exactly how the competition is,'' Hans Jorgen Runshaug said in a telephone interview.
``We did a lot of research in the market, but what we experienced was something else than what the market told us.''
RSE, which operates a high-speed catamaran passenger service between downtown Vancouver and Victoria's Inner Harbor, announced Thursday it is shutting down effective Sept. 30, putting 89 people out of work. It cancelled its Nanaimo service earlier this year after only a few months of operations.
Former employees and business associates blamed the company's failure in part on the Norwegian managers brought in to replace a local management team after the initial start-up period.
They say the Norwegian managers spent lavishly, negotiated uneconomic deals and misread the market.
``They dumped tonnes of kronas into the B.C. market every month, that's what happened,'' said one member of the replaced local management team, former RSE marketing director Norman Stowe.
Stowe said the Norwegian executives ``were all operating engineer types'' brought in from the parent shipbuilding company, with no passenger service experience or understanding of the B.C. tourism market.''
Runshaug said the decision to shut down is ``one which we very much regret having to make.''