Ferry sailing on Friday

The Chi-Cheemaun ferry.

Vital transportation link begins this week

SOUTH BAYMOUTH – This Friday, dozens of people will gather on the ferry docks at South Baymouth to welcome the Chi-Cheemaun back for her 45th season. The cheery sound of the vessel’s horn, as she rounds the bend into the South Baymouth harbour, is a harbinger of spring and the busy summer to come.

“Everything is wide open and the water is high,” says Susan Schrempf, president and CEO of the Owen Sound Transportation Company when asked about the passage from Tobermory to South Baymouth.

The Chi-Cheemaun received a few renovations during her winter berth, including the stairwells leading from the car deck to the passenger areas, which are now colour- and animal-coded. The animals will match the Woodland-inspired creatures found on the ship’s bow. The crew can also look forward to a new lunch room too.

Speaking of lunch, Ms. Schrempf notes that new menu items will be introduced over the sailing season gradually, with current items swapped out each time. The cafeteria is also attempting to lower its use of single- use plastics and will be sourcing compostable or biodegradable containers and straws. The vending machines, too, will not contain items in single use plastics such as bottles. The water fountain will also be replaced with a water bottle refilling station, Ms. Schrempf adds.

The Chi-Cheemaun’s entertainment programming is almost set, so visit the ferry’s website for more information on this program, on the sunset dinner cruises and on special Sunday programming in July.

New this year for travellers coming from Tobermory is the option for those with enclosed RVs, (meaning those with toilets and water), can now park overnight to be on board for the first sailing from Tobermory. Ms. Schrempf explained that the OSTC received a special bylaw exemption from the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula to allow for this which, she explains, will help to free up the popular second sailing at 11:40 am.

Fares have increased by an average of two percent.

Engine and ramp work was also completed throughout the winter, with just one issue remaining: during its annual inspection, the 45-year-old elevator was noted to have a cracked gear which needs to be replaced. This work is scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks, so in the interim those with mobility issues should make it known they will be requiring assistance while making a reservation and at check-in.

“We’re looking forward to a good season,” says Ms. Schrempf, “the phones have been ringing off the hook with interest these past few weeks.”

The first official sail from the Chi-Cheemaun’s home port of Owen Sound to Tobermory takes place this Thursday, with the first sail of the season getting underway this Friday, May 3 and leaving Tobermory at 8:50 am, to arrive in South Baymouth at 10:50 that morning.

For more information, visit ontarioferries.com.