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Manitoulin Island ferry delays planned May 7 season start

COVID concerns push back first Chi-Cheemaun sail indefinitely
The MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry sails Lake Huron between Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. (OSTC photo)

Concerns about COVID-19 have pushed back the start of the 2021 season for the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry.

Operating in Georgian Bay in the upper end of Lake Huron, the vessel runs from May to October between South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula.

Its season was scheduled to launch on May 7.

In an April 30 news release, the Owen Sound Transportation Company, the Crown agency that operates the ferry, said services have been paused indefinitely.

“In response to COVID-19, the Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) Service will delay the start of the operating season for the MS Chi-Cheemaun,” the OSTC said in the notice.

“Ferry services between Tobermory and Manitoulin Island scheduled to begin on May 7 have been delayed until further notice.”

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All reservations affected by the delay have been cancelled, and the OSTC said it would contact customers with reservations on sailings between May 7 and May 20 to reschedule.

Reservations will be unavailable between May 1 and May 15, but will reopen after that date the agency said.

This is the ferry's second consecutive year to be impacted by the pandemic.

Last year, the OSTC delayed the start of the season to June 1, and limited early traffic to essential travellers only.

The agency expanded access to leisure travellers on June 12.

Customers can get regular updates about the Chi-Cheemaun directly to their phones by texting “OPT IN” to 613-703-9026.