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Riding the ferries is usually a fairly pleasant experience. BC Ferries, up to this point, have been pretty prompt and efficient in our experience, however this past weekend “prompt and efficient” were certainly not words that came to mind. Lots of other words came to mind, but I won’t expand on that here.
Leaving Otter Bay at Pender Island was at best a frustrating experience. Due to the time of day we were departing we could not get the direct ferry to Tsawwassen (greater Vancouver area)so we knew we would have to make a connection through Swartz Bay (by Sidney on Vancouver Island, just north of Victoria). Having to go through Swartz was just fine, we do it about 50% of the time. The trick to going through Swartz is making the connection or you will be sitting at the terminal for a very long time (which isn’t that fun with a vehicle containing five children). What was not fine is the first ferry we attempted to get was late. As we sat in the ferry terminal no ferry showed up, 10 minutes late, 15 minutes late….no ferry. By the time the ferry arrived we knew there was no way it was going to make the connection as this ferry needed to stop at Saturna before heading to Swartz so we decided to consider “Plan B”.
We consulted a ferry timetable and realized a ferry going directly to Swartz was due to arrive at the ferry terminal in a short time. If the second ferry was on time, and there was no indication that it wouldn’t be on time, we still could feasibly make the connection. Time is a huge factor when we are leaving the island, our journey is 1152 km and we drive it in one shot in one day, delays are a huge issue. So we decide that the second ferry is the sensible option. We pull into the lane for the ferry we think is our best bet and we wait….and wait…..and wait…..and wait. Well as luck would have it this ferry was over a half hour late. Unbelievable. No chance of making the connection which meant we would be sitting in the ferry terminal at Swartz for a very long time (which we did). Eventually we finally got on the second ferry and made it across to Tsawwassen. We had arrived at otter Bay just before 11am to catch the first ferry and arrived in Tsawwassen just after 5 pm. Insane.
My husband and I pondered what was going on, we had never experienced this before in all the ferry travel we have done. Was it a work “slow down”? I guess it could have been that. Or was it all the holiday makers in “tourist mode” making it impossible to load the ferries? No kidding, we had a car load onto the ferry in front of us, everyone jumped out like they were getting on a ride at Disneyland, arms and mouths a flapping, and then the group proceeded to STAND IN THE CAR LANE AND VISIT ……..WHILE THE FERRY IS TRYING TO BE LOADED. I am still shaking my head. Seriously, what are people thinking? Perhaps they were discussing where to buy their mouse-ears!
So a disappointing ferry experience to say the least; all I can say is I am looking so forward to off-season. I will take a blustery February day with on-time ferries any day over sunny, tourist filled days and all the ferries running late.