Two successive sailings from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay were cancelled Sunday due to sick staff, along with two return sailings. The midday cancellations came between the morning and evening shifts for ferry workers.

Early staff can’t always cover for missing crew in the afternoon, British Columbia Ferry Services communications manager Dan McIntosh said.

“Depending on the crew member that is either sick or doesn’t show up or whatever it could be, it could be either a minor inconvenience to the sailing or it could have major repercussions.”

For example, if the captain were ill, the other possible captain might be coming off an overtime shift on a different route. He wouldn’t be able to do another run, McIntosh said.

As for getting the late shift to arrive early—they did come in on Sunday, as they did run the boat—BC Ferries would have exhausted all options. “I can guarantee it,” MacIntosh said.

“You would be surprised how often someone calls in sick and we have to source another body, and how often it’s done within a half-hour, forty-five minutes. If plan A fails, plan B fails, and plan C fails, sometimes you don’t have a plan D. You just don’t have people.”

Ken Dickenson, of CMI Moving Systems, had a plan-A failure because of the ferry waits. Many drivers had to wait five to seven hours on Sunday, as did Dickenson, to get on a ferry.

Dickenson arrived on the coast with his girlfriend Saturday to deliver furniture to a customer. They stayed overnight and planned to hike Soames Hill the next day.

On Sunday morning, a friend called with news about the cancellations.

“So we headed down to the ferry terminal at 10 a.m. to be told that we’d be on the 3:15,” Dickenson said. “We had to park the car there and go walk the dog on the beach for hours.”

“We had to rearrange all our plans,” his girlfriend, blues singer Jamie Dale, said.

D.J. Wood waits with his mountain bike in the overflow parking lot.

D.J. Wood, from Port Coquitlam, spent the morning mountain biking on the Coast. He and his friends heard about the cancellations and scrapped their afternoon biking plans. They arrived at the terminal around 2 p.m. They had to wait for the 7:40 p.m. sailing.

“It was a hiccup,” Wood said. He and about a dozen friends were sprawled on the asphalt in the overflow parking lot, talking and waiting at 3 p.m. Sunday. By that time, the 7:40 ferry was full and drivers who had just arrived were forced to wait for the last ferry of the day, set for 9:50 p.m. That filled up by 8 p.m.

BC Ferries bought in water taxies, and no one was left at the Langdale terminal.