Sunday, June 11, 2006


Getting there (alive) is half the fun

Our sojourn in beautiful British Columbia began on Wednesday, as we drove from the airport to the BC Ferry terminal at Tsawassen for the ferry to Swartz Bay, on Vancouver Island. The round trip (we ferried back on Saturday) was reasonably priced at $50 for a car and two passengers.

You line up on these long driveways, and rather than having to sit in your car while awaiting boarding, you can walk over to a new "public market" -- an oblong food court with a few gift shops thrown in, but a pleasant place to wait, with good coffee and chocolate treats.

They call everyone back to their cars with a polite pre-boarding announcement. A few minutes later the announcement, while still polite, takes on increased urgency: "Several cars do not have their drivers. Kindly return to your cars."

Finally, they get specific: "Will the driver of a white Chevy Malibu with license plate number ABC-123 please return to your car to board the ferry."

Here is our route, indicated by the yellow line; the red arrow shows our destination.


As you can see the route is dotted with small islands. If you're wondering what it looks like to be on a boat weaving through this maze of little islands, it's quite beautiful.


DSCN7868 DSCN7901


The whole ferry was very pleasant, efficient and worry free, other than that little ferry-sinking incident last March, which is back in the Canadian news these days owing to the public inquiry. Check out the story here: the underwater photo of the ferry in question is very Titanic.

Perhaps due to the ferry sinking issue, which is now being blamed on insufficient safety training for the crew, the ferry rides in both directions featured rather ostentatious safety instruction sessions for crew members -- like this one on use of life boats.


They were also very solicitous to head off unnecessary passenger concern, such as when the crew had to go down to our car deck on the outbound voyage to put out a car fire -- described initially over the loudspeaker as a "situation on car deck four that is, or will soon be, under control."

Even before I had heard about the March incident or the car fire, I found myself strangely drawn to checking out the lifeboat situation. These compact, numerous cannisters roll off their racks like depth charges and burst open on contact with the water surface, releasing self-inflating life-rafts.


Clever! If only Titanic had these babies! (If you're like me, you sometimes daydream that they had enough lifeboats on the Titanic, and Leo Dicaprio's character, Jack Dawson, survives to live happily ever after with Kate Winslet. Though I suppose many of you gals simply daydream, not that there were more lifeboats, but rather that it was Kate Winslet who drowned leaving Leo as the surviving available guy in need of consolation. But I digress.)

For reasons I can't explain, ferry passenger lounges tend to be set up as though they were a large theatre facing the bow of the ship -- as though we were all watching a performance consisting of the ship's forward progress, but for the fact that walls (or "bulkheads" as we say at sea) block any such view.



Still, the views out the side windows are stunning, and it's one of those quirks of human nature that regular ferry travelers grow quite jaded and indifferent to it.



While my mouth hangs open at the scenic beauty, the locals bury their noses in sensationalistic local newspapers. As though a report of some plot to "blow up Parliament Buildings in Canada, storm the CBC, take over the CBC, as well as, among other things, behead the prime minister" were more interesting!

storm seize

What a beautiful travel story. I particulary liked the last paragraph and last pic--it is a nice view!

Have fun, keep posting!
We took the ferry from Seattle to Victoria once, and you're right - the view is wonderful. I also have not figured out the theater-like sitting area ...
*sighing with happiness*

I wish you could get a MacArthur to just travel blog for a year.
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