A Ferry Tale

Since our island passenger ferry started up here about 28 years ago a lot of people have chosen to make this little rock their home. It means that they could now live in this park like neighborhood without having to own and run their own boat.

They wouldn’t have to encase themselves in rain gear over their nice clothes during the wet winter months. It means they wouldn’t have to wear gum boots while carrying their “good” shoes in a knapsack to change into later. It means their hair would look the same as when they left their house.

It is convenient and reliable. Although if it it’s really bad weather it may sit out a few runs.

But installing some kind of shuttle to the island was always inevitable. More and more people moved on permanently, it was close to town, it was affordable where renting or real estate was concerned, it would certainly develop and grow.

The first attempt for a passenger ferry was 35 years ago by a property owner named Don. But it was hit and miss.

The story went something like this:

A group of residents would be waiting at the dock to return back to the island from town. Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting.

Al: Where is Don? Its been half hour.

Mike: Bet he’s in the pub, I’ll go check.

20 minutes go by…

Larry: I’ll go get Mike and Don

20 minutes go by…

You get the drift. Eventually they all end up at the pub until Don decided he was ready to go.

During the 50’s there was a much smaller seasonal population here, summer vacationers. They came in canoes, row boats or power boats of their own, staying in tiny cabins along the Lee Shore of the island just across the gap from the huge provincial park of Newcastle Island.

It was a rustic place then. A far cry from that now since opting out of the Island Trust and becoming part of the city and hooking into sewer and water, forgoing our wells and septic fields.

And especially after Bob and Hilda moved over and built the pub and Bistro here 28 years ago along with its ferry service to carry their customers over, benefitting the residents in the process. The boats they brought in, 3 of them, are retired B.C. Ferry life boats. They’ve had a few augmentations done and carry up to 29 people safely and comfortably warm and dry.

When my kids were school age they took the ferry each day at designated “School Run” times which meant the kids rode free of charge. The ferry was given a subsidy by the school board to bring all the island kids in to town where a school bus would be waiting to pick them up, so that worked well.

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There are occasions during peak times of the day all year through that this little boat is full to capacity; in the mornings with residents going to work, and after work around 5:00. In the summer sometimes folks might have to wait for the next boat if the pub is really busy, which it is all summer long. But they are quick to send a second boat, so everybody eventually gets to where they need to get to. The key is to relax and not be in such a hurry.

I used to ride the ferry more often than I do now, back when I had an open boat and opted for warm and dry instead of cold and drenched. I used to know the ferry drivers well. I had worked at the pub for a couple of seasons as a line cook, bracing for those “double boat runs” full of customers that would pack the bistro for another busy summer night.

Now when I do ride there are more residents I don’t know that have moved onto the island.

Once not long ago when I took the ferry home and I had a few bags of groceries one of the passengers offered me a ride in his golf car. We introduced ourselves. He said he lived next door to James. I said “Oh yeah, just around the corner from my house”.

He said, “so you know James?” An infamous resident who has lived here for 37 years.

I said, “yeah, I’ve known him for 25 years.”

“You’ve been here 25 years?! Part time?” He was surprised that he’d never seen me before.

“No”, I said, “Year round. My husband has been here 38 . How long have you’ve been here?”

“Five,” he says.

The island is 1-1/2 miles long and 1 mile wide. And yet it hides people well. That’s also the beauty of this place. You can keep to yourself – be a hermit, or jump into the community and engage.

Yet while having my own boat is part of the allure of living here, part of that self-reliant and independent nature belonging to many individuals who take on the task of living a slightly distinctive lifestyle here, there may come a day when I’m really old and not capable of using my boat any longer.  Then I’ll buy my monthly ferry pass and look forward to communing with my neighbors both new and long known while plying the waters that set this “moated suburb” apart from the rest.

It’s all good in the hood.

I love my little community ~ 🙂

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Back in the Saddle

SO grateful to have our commuter boat out of the shop and back home! Yes, yes there is a passenger ferry we can use to get to town BUT when bringing groceries home it’s a 20 minute walk. No big deal if one had a car or golf car, but our car is broken down too and awaiting a haul off the island.

Fast and efficient once again!

 

 

A new addition to the Flotilla

Twenty-five years ago when we bought our sailboat and took our first cruise down through the gulf islands one thought came in my mind: Kayaking through here would be perfect. All inside waters between the string of gulf islands, nice and sheltered. From that time onward it was a desire to own one. Bob was not interested in having to paddle any where the wind could easily take him with less strenuous effort, and anyway our focus during that time was in becoming competent sailors.

The desire to have a kayak slowly crept back into the forefront once again and when a neighbor posted that he was selling his 17′ Current Design Solstice I jumped at it.

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Happy camper. Now to get Bob in one.

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My new Chill

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Thought I’d share the arrival of the new appliance. Exciting I know.

This is one mode of transport by which many of the islands’ things come to us. They have a truck and boat trailer on the main island too and are able to take the skiff to any place to load directly, then simply launch and pull out on our island. And visa versa. Anything bigger than what the skiff can manage is brought over by barge- a large barge.

These guys are the bomb. Every other week they come around and do a garbage and recyclables collection for a small fee. Each spring they organize a Garden Run, bringing everything from fencing, manure, topsoil and potting mix, to what have you. Just put your request in and they’ll get it to your yard.

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Up the access-

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Up the slippery slope-

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Up the steps-

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And in. After the 2 hours it took flipping the door so it opens to the right, peppered with expletives of course,(Guy at Home Depot said, Oh yeah factory takes 10 minutes, you maybe 20, it’s easy!), I whipped up a pizza (I had dough I previously made, so no biggy) and Bob and I cracked some champagne and waited for the fridge to come to temp before I moved everything from the coolers we had outside.

And that’s how we do it. 🙂

 

Freeze up

Protection ice floe

This is rather a rare occurrence for us west coasters to have our bay iced over for nearly 3 days, but there have been tales told that in the far past people have ice skated out to this little island.

The above photo is the third day as it’s finally breaking up. Bob and I have a welded aluminum boat which means it can take pushing through the ice, and we did. (This also scraps clean the bottom of our boat brilliantly too.) We went out to where our sailboat is moored and did a few circles around her to free her up and then we went all around the rest of the bay to break ice for those that are living aboard their boats and would have difficulty getting to shore with their row boats.

Off to a good start since this happened on January 1st  making it our first good deed for 2016!

Our sailboat in the icy bay 2016

gulls standing on ice

Shrouded

The fog is back! Well, I suppose it’s a small price to pay living on the Wet, I mean the West Coast; those poor East Coasters still digging themselves out from under the ice and snow. Here’s my world this morning on my commute to work. Have to admit fog brings its own beauty to the table, but oh can hardly wait for the sunny days to come!

Log booms loom long, low and dark, town harbor beyond
Log booms loom long, low and dark, town harbor beyond
Coming into the inner harbor
Coming into the inner harbor, the Herring boats have been working the last few days
The gas docks
The gas docks