The Ferry

I knew it’d come to this. The ferry can be a bit of a preoccupation sometimes along with the ferry schedule. The ferry comes to you in your dreams. Will it be on time? Is there room? Have you got your reservation in your hot little hand? You better. Ferry lady’s going to want to see it. Ferry man. Depends who’s on shift. How long are you willing to wait and then you keep on waiting. That’s the ferry.

And that’s just when you’re leaving the island. You’re in a desperate fight to get away before the boredom and solitude get you. May I speak in the third person here? How do you feel about it? Is it going to be okay? Will the ferry make it or has the whole schedule been destroyed by weather and all the ferries have gone down with no survivors. It’s just terrible. What is a guy who just wants to go to town going to do? Does this sound like you?

But those days are over. I’ve got my family with me in 2019, all two and a half of us. But we’re all getting used to it. Sort of. Pretty much.

The ferry makes you feel silly some times. Like when you thought you’re getting on the “Bowen Queen” but it’s really the “Mayne Queen” and there isn’t a nice lady to take your money for a coffee at her tiny, perfect, little live-action snack-food and coffee dispensary there. Instead it’s a bank of vending machines. That happened once.

Riding the ferry for years can be a terrible experience. All I need to do is exaggerate a lot. But when you get back on your regular “Mayne Queen” the vending machines, you realize quite quickly, are your friends. And if there was an actual person behind a tiny service counter like on the “Bowen” it’d probably drive you insane with upset.  I feel a hypothetical  example coming on:

“Excuse me, Ma’am. Where are the vending machines?”

“There are no vending machines, sir. I’m it.”

“What? No vending machines? This is awful. I’ll have a coffee and one of them little “Toasty Toasters””.

“Will that be all then? $13.47 is your total.”

“That was a good year.  Thanks very much.”

You can’t really say too much about the ferry but that doesn’t stop a person from talking about it. Where it is. What it’s doing. How long’s it going to be? Is it here yet? Why’s it taking so long? What’s going on? Ah gee. It gets a bit repetitive and it’s just all part of the mix with the ferry.

You’re brain goes soft on the ferry. I know mine does. It starts to melt when I’m in line. You have a car and you’re lined up with everybody else in the order you arrived to wait for the ferry.

We always like to get here a bit early just to say we did and because it often works but not always. Being first in line feels like a champion but that doesn’t happen too often. If I’m walking on like the rest of the refugees I don’t really have to be here much ahead of departure time, if there is one. There’s advantages to that but I forget what they are. I haven’t been a walk-on for awhile but I think of those days. I know it’s still out there for me. That’s something.

I’m either coming on the ferry or leaving on it. That’s how it works. No other way. The ferry is the ferry and it’s best that you just get used to it. That’s what I’ve found. The ferry goes at its own pace. It won’t speed up for you and it won’t slow down for you. It’s not about you, us, or me. It’s what the ferry needs.

It goes in its ancient steady way, plodding from island to island and if it’s really lucky, like if it’s going to the mainland on one of those rare voyages, one of these antediluvian so-called “inner-island” ferries out there in a game attempt, the tiny ferry that it is, to breech Georgia Strait and get to Tsawwassen or whatever they call it, it’s a happy ferry. How could it not be? What a brave ferry!

I only saw the ferry once out there. I wasn’t on it. It was the “Bowen Queen” again. It looked small and vulnerable rolling slightly as it chugged on in the middle of the strait, but it didn’t look lost. I took one last look as I headed for the vending machines. Chips, man. Chips. Potato chips. In the bag. In the vending machine, man. Get them now. It was my inner voices compelling me again to act. I was on the “Queen of Nanaimo” at the time. What a fine old tub.  It was a shame her going down like that.

Or “Swartz” bay. That’s a really ridiculous name. It must be tough working there. Rather too many Swartz lying about. But it’s just a shift. You get through it like all the others, and it’s okay. Actually what’s not to like about working for the ferry? It’s just a machine. It’s doing the best it can and trying to be the best ferry it can be which is so admirable and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I like the ferry myself. I feel like a child again.

So that pretty much wraps it up with the ferry. There’s more to the ferry of course. And it’ll be along in good time. The ferry is memories and the future and impressions each and every time I’m privileged to tread these hallowed decks. Chug chug. We’re getting there. The ferry makes it look simple.


Miami Sunset courtesy CS Nicol