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.

13254421_10154034090510733_6457763299602170940_n

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 ~ 🙂

fullsizeoutput_16c0

 

 

When it rains it pours

Living on this little island has its charms by the cart full yes, but when things go off track the repercussions can be far reaching. Case in point, to begin we have an old van on the island, (barged over as all vehicles and golf carts are since there isn’t a car ferry here, only a small passenger ferry), which we use when we have to bring home large or heavy items or a big grocery shop day.

In the past 18 years when we didn’t have a vehicle here we used a wheel barrow, or if the item was really huge we enlisted a neighbor with a truck.

Except the time Bob, in a conduct that I can only label as masochistic, brought all the lumber and other building materials needed to build the large workshop adjoining our house by wheelbarrow. Bags of cement, 6×6’s 2×4’s, trusses. I was there, I watched it happen, I steadied the long lumber as he grunted down the road. But this type of behavior has been common when there were less vehicles over here. Once several years back Bob and a few other guys picked up a house and walked it down the road to another property.

Anyway the van is broken down, something to do with the steering column. Bob had fixed it, after spending a full day searching out the part in an auto wreckers. It worked for a couple of weeks, now not working. And because he hasn’t a clue now how to fix what he thought he fixed, and can’t simply take it to a mechanic for repair, it sits.  All right we’ve been carless before, and we have two wheelbarrows now (moving up), so it’s back to that for time being.

Now today heading down the road with wheelbarrow in hand we got to our boat, started the motor and shoved off, only to find the steering wasn’t working, hydraulics issue? We managed to get back to the dock, and when Bob looked below the console and touched a wire it sparked.

Luckily our neighbor was just then climbing into her boat and Bob got a ride to town. He needed to drop off the transmission for our sailboat today at the mechanics because that’s another thing that isn’t working.

Van down, commuter boat down, sailboat down.

After dropping the transmission off Bob drove to the marina where we moor our sailboat and picked up the three horse we use for the dinghy, brought it down to the harbor in town and put it in another neighbors boat to bring back to the island on his way back home after work.

I’ve probably lost you by now but I’ll carry on-

Bob jumped on the little ferry and came home, followed by a twenty minute walk in pouring rain.

After he rested and our neighbor called to say he deposited our three horse in our boat down at the dock, Bob then headed down to put it onto the transom as a kicker so we can at least get the broken boat down the channel where the marine repair guys can pick it up with their trailer and take it into the shop.

Bob came back an hour later. The three horse isn’t working either.

All righty then-