Notice from the Ferry Crew re Covid-19

Due to the increase in traffic, it is harder than ever to social distance onboard. On the advice of public health, we are recommending passengers wear facemasks while onboard.  This recommendation does not apply to kids under two and those who cannot wear one due to health issues

We also ask passengers to please respect the crew while they are carrying out their duties by giving them 6 ft of clearance. Don’t crowd the after deck and stairs while waiting to get to the upper deck, clear a path when the crew needs to get by and wear a mask if you can.

TIR Meeting re Ferry Service

This is a meeting concerning the current and future ferry service – not the condition of the roads.  The TIR staff who will be meeting with us are from the ferry service – not road works.
To help TIR staff prepare for the meeting,  we would like to send them questions in advance.  (Deadline for questions is Dec 13.)

If you wish to submit a question(s) in advance, you have two options:
1. You can leave question(s) in the comments below, or
2. You can leave (question)s anonymously at the Post Office.


The Tancook Island ferry runs daily year-round on a predetermined schedule. The William G. Ernst vessel transports passengers from the mainland to the islands. The ferry departs from Chester and services both Little and Big Tancook Islands. Visitors should arrive at least fifteen minutes before the scheduled departure time. If you have any questions regarding your sailing be sure to ask one of our friendly ferry crew for assistance.
Please Note:
To all the day care operators and teachers that use the ferry for day trips and class trips to the island. Our policy is a minimum 1 adult chaperone for every 6 children that come onboard.

Day Departs Tancook Departs Chester
Monday to Friday 6:00 am 7:00 am
8:00 am 10:20 am
1:30 pm 3:40 pm
4:30 pm 5:30 pm
Friday Evening 6:30 pm 8:30 pm
9:30 pm 11:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am 1:00 pm
6:00 pm 7:00 pm
Sunday & Holidays 9:00 am 10:00 am
5:00 pm 6:00 pm

* Ferry Contact: 902.275.7885

The Sailing
The ferry usually sails first to Little Tancook and then on to Big Tancook. You will know you’ve arrived on Big Tancook because of our cement wharf (Little Tancook’s wharf is wooden). The duration of your sailing will be approximately 50 minutes. There will be lots to see during your trip, including many of Mahone Bay’s 365 islands. You’ll notice that some are even privately inhabited. Past visitors have been lucky to see sea birds, seals, porpoises and even the occasional whale on their journey.

As of June 19, 2021, the Nova Scotia government has permanently removed fees from all intra-provincial ferries to help make transportation more affordable and accessible for Nova Scotians. This includes the ferry servicing the Tancook Islands.

Vehicles and parking
The William G Ernst is primarily a passenger ferry, which means you will need to park your vehicle in Chester for the duration of your visit. There is limited parking available directly across from the wharf, and passengers can alternatively park on the harbour side of the Water Street just past The Rope Loft Restaurant, and in the parking lot for island residents located on Valley Road. Visitors should be careful not to park in front of private wharf entrances. Parking is not permitted directly on the government wharf.

Visitors are welcome to keep carry-on size baggage with them in the passenger cabin. Any additional belongings should be placed in the large silver freight boxes. These boxes will be sitting on the wharf prior to departure, and are hoisted onto the ferry by crane for the sailing, and then off on the island side. Visitors should check with a ferry crew member before loading belongings, to ensure the box you are using is destined for Big and not Little Tancook.

Bikes and strollers
Passengers are welcome to bring larger items like bikes and strollers aboard the ferry. These items should be carried on by way of the gangplank, and stowed in the freight area. Please ask a ferry crew member for direction on where to stow these items.

Tancook is dog friendly, and so is our ferry. We do ask that you keep pets outside of the passenger cabin unless they are in a carrier.