SeaLink adopts weather strategy for KI service

DAWN DEPARTURE: The SeaLink ferry Sealion 2000 prepares to depart Cape Jervis to Penneshaw in the early morning of Saturday, August 25.
DAWN DEPARTURE: The SeaLink ferry Sealion 2000 prepares to depart Cape Jervis to Penneshaw in the early morning of Saturday, August 25.

Following a number of cancellations in Kangaroo Island ferry operations between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw, with SA reportedly experiencing more severe north and north westerly winds this year, SeaLink has discussed its weather disruption plan.

SeaLink SA general manager Damien Gallacher said SeaLink had a very vigorous weather disruption plan. “The experienced masters of our vessels spend many hours monitoring weather, sea and wind conditions daily,” Mr Gallacher said.

Mr Gallacher explained that masters of the vessels were responsible for advising on weather conditions and liaising with him regarding the safety of SeaLink’s services, which has occurred as early as 3am in the morning, and keep in touch with him regarding any changes to conditions.

“Our structured disruption plan has been designed to ensure consistent and clear communication to our customers with as much notice as possible,” Mr Gallacher said.

“This then allows our valued customers to make informed decisions about their travel plans and gives them time to take earlier sailings or defer their travel.”

As weather is susceptible to change throughout the day, Mr Gallacher said decisions were normally made, regarding the operation of services, on a sailing by sailing basis to ensure that they were ready to operate as soon as the weather and sea conditions safely allowed them to do so.

With modern day developments in communication, Mr Gallacher said communication with customers had vastly improved over the years, with text messaging, website notices, Facebook and Twitter updates.

“We have demonstrated that this has enhanced the more public form of communication and has made ferry disruptions more noticeable to a wider audience,” he said.

“However, we do experience disruptions to our services every year and there has been years whereby more days have been affected than what we have dealt with so far this winter.

“We are very aware of the inconvenience that is caused to the Kangaroo Island community and our business partners and we sincerely thank them for their patience and understanding during these weather events.

“These times are also extremely stressful for the SeaLink team who work tirelessly to ensure all customers are contacted, have alternative arrangements confirmed and are inconvenienced as little as possible.”  

SeaLink’s South Australian operations meanwhile reported a 2.3 per cent increase in earnings to $18.2m in 2018 ($17.8m in 2017) was primarily attributable to continuing strong demand for the PS Murray Princess and the growth in passenger volumes on the KI ferry service.