Residents of Powell River had to stay in Comox after a last-minute ferry cancellation Saturday night.

Bert Hogendoorn says the 7:10pm ferry leaving Little River was first delayed and then cancelled.

“We heard the announcement saying the vessel will be delayed, so because we also had to interconnect to the next sailing between Saltery Bay and Earls Cove I went to the attendant to make sure that they held the other vessel. By the time I got up there she indicated that the situation had changed and they were actually cancelling the sailing due to lack of crew members,” said Hogendoorn.

He added that it was weird to see a cancellation due to not having enough crew on board.

“I can understand sailing problems because of mechanical difficulties, I know that they try to maintain the vessels, but lack of crewing was kind of a shock to me.”

Hogendorrn says all the customers were refunded, but they had to find somewhere to stay before taking the 6:15am sailing to Powell River on Sunday.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall says a key member of the crew became sick last minute and the crew did its best to find a replacement.

“Our crewing department did their best to try to find a replacement worker for that one individual, but unfortunately they were unable too,” said Marshall.

“With our requirements for transport Canada licence and staffing all the different positions on the vessels there are certain key positions that we cannot sail without a full complement of crew, and unfortunately this was one of those situations Saturday night.”

She adds that these types of cancellations are extremely rare.

“We do over 170,000 sailings in a year and this happens on very rare occasions. We certainly apologize to our customers,” she added.