Queen of Prince Rupert - Inside Passage and Queen Charlotte Islands

 

Trip: Route 10 Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, Route 11 Prince Rupert to Skidegate, Route 26 Skidegate to Alliford Bay and back to Skidegate, Route 11 Skidegate to Prince Rupert, Route 10 Prince Rupert to Port Hardy stopping at Klemtu Shearwater and Bella Bella.

Date: October 29th to November1st 2008

Objective of Trip: To ride the Queen of Prince Rupert on the inside passage in her native setting.

 

This article was written and photographed by Nick Berben.

Recap:

Day 2:

The next day we had breakfast and went outside to watch AMHS' Malaspina pass on her way south to Bellingham.



It was somewhere around here that we ran into Steve Poole and introduced ourselves. Brett had sent him a letter a few weeks ago explaining about this trip, so he knew about us, but he had forgotten we were going to be on that particular sailing. He promised to introduce us to the captain, and we talked about the forum and the kind of things we discuss. At this point, we passed Boat Bluff and did more exploring on the outside decks.



After going back inside, Steve Poole introduced us to Captain Bouchard, who by the way, has got to be the best/awesomest/coolest captain in the fleet. He invited us up to the bridge, and we talked a bit about the forum. He mentioned how nice it is to read something about BC Ferries that isn’t so full of negativity, and while there are certainly criticisms present, they are educated and well thought out (generally). He allowed us to play “dress up” with his uniform, so of course Donella went nuts with that.






From the bridge wing.

From this point, we just hung around the ship a bit, and talked ferries. We got to know the crew a bit, and let them know what we were doing. The common reaction was “why would you do that”, but once they saw how passionate we all were about ferries in general, I think they understood. We got to know both the night and day watches fairly well, particularly the catering staff and stewards, as well as a few deckhands that Brett and Donella had known from their trip on the Chilliwack earlier this summer. Joanne, the part-time gift shop cashier, was particularly enthusiastic about what we were doing. She told us about her experiences with the Queen of the North, culminating in her ordeal escaping from the ‘tween deck when the ship sank. She was very fond of the Queen of the North, as she had spent almost her whole career aboard her.

The last bit of the evening before we came into Prince Rupert we spent talking to Steve Poole about the future of the northern runs with BC Ferries, and he regaled some stories about the Nimpkish running the discovery coast in the winter. He told us about what he would like to see for the Northern Discovery, which is very similar to the general consensus on the forum. He would like to see a new, modernized version of the QPR. Something around that size would be economical to run on all the northern runs in the winter, and would be small enough to fit in all the discovery coast ports during the summer. As well, it would be large enough to have cabins and with a proper bow, it would be able to cross Hecate Strait without too many problems arising from extreme weather. He also told us a lot about the newer RADAR and electronic charting technologies, and how BC Ferries is planning on implementing them.

At this point, we came into the Port of Prince Rupert. We passed the Port Edwards grain and coal terminal, and also the new container port. I was somewhat surprised that I didn’t see a single ship at either port both times we came into Rupert. I was under the impression they were trying very hard to advertise that port. We noticed there was an AMHS ship in their berth next to the BCF berth, and after some discussion and squinting to read the name, discovered it was the Taku.

Eric, in the Purser’s office, said it would be OK if we left our bags on board, so we left the ship carrying only our cameras and check in information. We came into the Prince Rupert terminal, checked in for our trip over to the Charlottes, and hung around as we waited for the car deck to be unloaded and the drop trailers bound for QCI to be loaded. I’m not sure how many people are aware of this, but BCF shares the Prince Rupert terminal with VIA Rail, which although I knew about it before, I had forgotten. The Taku departed during this time as well, without blowing her whistle, I might add.



So, after we got the OK, we boarded the boat just before midnight. We knew, looking at the terminal lot and the waiting room that this was going to be a full boat. We were the first ones on the ship, and made sure our stuff was still there in the forward lounge. I checked with Eric at the Purser’s office to make sure my name was on the waiting list for a cabin, and after checking he gave me a cabin right then and there. A few minutes later, Eric called Karl and was able to give him a cabin as well. With such a busy sailing, that cabin was very nice to have.

After depositing gear in the cabins, we explored the outer decks a bit, and ran into a man on the stern. After hearing our conversation, he asked us what we were doing and introduced himself as Kevin. He was a member of the Haida First Nation, and was from Masset on the islands. He was working in Prince Rupert because he wasn’t able to find a job on the islands, and was returning to visit with his family for a few days. He had a very forward looking, pleasant, easy going philosophy. I enjoyed talking to him about some of the issues facing the Haida people; he mentioned drug and alcohol abuse was a big problem. Unfortunately, we started feeling a little bit uncomfortable with some of the crowd developing on the stern decks, as we could see some of the drug use Kevin had mentioned, so we left and went back inside. We hung out on the less-crowded forward portions of the outside decks for a while, and then gradually filed away for bed. I had a cabin for the night, so I slept there, after popping a couple of Gravol. I probably needn’t have taken so much, as I slept like a log and missed out on the rough sailing.