20 September 2015

Ferry Connections

Ferry whimsy. Who hasn't done this? Travelled on a ferry between point A and point B? It usually shortens the distance between two places, or enables reaching a specific place such as an island. For some people, a ferry is a daily ho-hum part of their commute. More fun are the holiday travels by ferry.
My first major ferry crossing was many years ago avec famille in a motor home over the Cabot Strait. I am convinced that at that time we boarded the ferry in Prince Edward Island to reach Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, although that route from PEI is not in operation now. Wherever we loaded on, it was a long overnight crossing. Did I say fun? Sleeping in a metal room with no portholes is quite an experience. The slightly shorter trip returned us from Argentia to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Timing did not allow us to go to St John's ... how shortsighted was that?!

My memories of the Rock are rather hazy apart from the demands of making beds, washing dishes, and cooking meals.

Cornerbrook was a lovely little town for a visit with friends. Crossing the main part of the island included an overnight in a gravel pit for lack of camping grounds. The scenery was amazing, unlike any other part of Canada.

However, my overriding memory is the fate of our ferry, the good ship MV William Carson, which sank not long after. It struck a small iceberg near Battle Harbour, Labrador; by good fortune, all 158 passengers and crew aboard were rescued.

All subsequent ferry journeys were peanuts after that. The Bay of Fundy: Digby to Saint John. The Chi-Cheemaun: Tobermory to Manitoulin. Gradually the massive motor home was no longer required.
Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Victoria; don't remember how long ago that was or the name of the ferry.

Cape Breton to Cape Breton; the Little Narrows cable ferry takes you from one side of a Lake Bras d'Or inlet to the other in five minutes. It's a shortcut if you are approaching the Highland Village from the north.

Not to ignore the Toronto Islands ferries ... or the almost-obsolete vessel that lumbers back and forth to the Island Airport.

Elsewhere in no particular order:

Istanbul to Uskudar; a short trip across the Bosphorus to Turkey's Asian side.

Tallinn to Helsinki; the end of a trip through Russia and the Baltics.

Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) to Newcastle, UK; this is a BIG ferry! But smooth crossing on the North Sea in July.

Oban to Coll, Scotland; ancestral excitement!

Spain (Algeciras) to Morocco (Ceuta); past Gibraltar to the land of royal cities.

Not exactly a ferry (!) but a significant water journey was on the Great Lakes from Port McNicoll near Midland on Lake Huron to the Lakehead, otherwise known as Thunder Bay. The ship was probably the SS Keewatin. They loaded my car on and away we went. Let me tell ya, it's impossible to look back on crossing Lake Superior without obsessively humming "Edmund Fitzgerald" (thanks, Gordon Lightfoot).

Not exactly as pictured in the 1970s!
Most fun of all was crossing the Ottawa River from Carillon, Quebec to Pointe-Fortune, Ontario. We were towing a race car on a trailer that had approximately four inches of ground clearance. The rig was going to take up all the space on the tiny ferry. Mr. Québecois Ferryman gave it close inspection before allowing us to board, then stated the obvious with some trepidation, "She's low like hell."

Thrilling, every one of them.

© 2015 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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