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.


Day 4:

I woke up around 8:00, and had my final breakfast on board just as we were arriving in Klemtu. Brett had been talking about the sketchy ramp arrangement at Klemtu earlier in the trip, and I was looking forward to seeing what he was talking about. Turns out, he’s right. It’s pretty darn sketchy. The “berth” consists of a barge with a small ramp attached to it, with a fishing pier beside it. The ship comes alongside the pier, using it as a dolphin of sorts. The ship discharged a few passengers, and loaded a few more, as well as some more cargo, and we were off again. As we departed, we saw Gary Coons waving from the fishing pier. While we were in Klemtu, I saw the Big House that Mike (Flugel) mentioned in his report from his ‘Chilliwack trip in June. I liked how they have the front lit up at night, so the design on the front stands out. I wish we were there long enough to explore the community a bit. Maybe that means I have to do a route 40 trip next summer.

As we continued south, Captain Bouchard found us, and told us we could go to the engine room if we wanted. Of course, we accepted, and the Chief Engineer escorted us down. It was great to see her big Mirrlees engines at work, after working so hard, for so long. The engine room tour was short, but we did get to see just about everything: prime movers, CAT generators, and the control room.

When we got back upstairs, Joanne offered to take us down to the ‘tween deck, which is normally closed off to public, so we could get some photos. She said we had to wait until we were in the berth at Bella Bella, but we could go down. At this point, we stopped at Shearwater, where we loaded a couple of cars, and the crew had to shoo a kayaker away from the boat.

When we got to Bella Bella, Joanne took us down to the ‘tween deck. She showed us a few unused cabins (aside from no portholes, and no head, not much different than those upstairs) and the gym that was put in a few years ago for crew to use in their off time. I was surprised with the gym, in that it had laminate flooring, with nice bright lights and a good stereo, so it was nice and cheerful. She told us about how after the Estonia sinking, TC mandated that all watertight doors be kept closed when the ship is in transit. Because there are watertight doors separating sections in the ‘tween deck, they had to be closed off to public because it would be too dangerous to have Joe Q. Public operate the watertight doors.

We came upstairs again, and had a bite to eat for lunch, and while we were eating we departed Bella Bella. Almost right after we finished, Captain Bouchard invited us back up to the bridge. Donella started rooting round the drawers, and found a few little trinkets from the old days. Of course, Donella also started playing dress-up with Captain Bouchard’s uniform, and made the rest of us do the same.

Previously in the trip, Donella had asked if she could blow the horn at some point. Captain Bouchard had said that she could when we departed Bella Bella, but he forgot. So, while we were on the bridge, Captain Bouchard made an excuse to blow the horn during a course alteration to port (it was going around a point, kind of like around Whytecliff Park on route 2). That brings me to my only disappointment about this trip. I was looking forward to hearing the QPR’s 3 tone horn, but the middle tone wasn’t working for some reason.

While we were in the bridge, we passed the Malaspina on her way north, and watched a couple tug-and-barges pass. Talking with the officers in the bridge, it seemed that there wasn’t a single person who wasn’t attached in some way to the Queen of the North. The third officer mentioned that he had been a deckhand on the QotN, and when he saw the footage the ROV took of the stern and her name, he cried because he had just repainted it two weeks before.

We had a final dinner that evening, and Donella got a little bit tipsy with a Corona as we reminisced about the awesome trip. We slowly made the last rounds around the ship, and napped a bit in the forward lounge after it got dark. Once we got out into the Queen Charlotte Sound, the weather started getting bad, and the wind kicked up to 40-50 knots. The seas weren’t too bad, I guess because the wind was coming from the right direction, so the ship wasn’t rocking and rolling too badly. Brett and I parked ourselves outside at the bow again, as we had done when crossing Hecate Strait, to enjoy the wind in our faces and the salt air.

We didn’t make very good time crossing the sound, and we arrived at Port McNeil about a half hour later than scheduled. We said goodbye to all the crew that had been so welcoming to us, and disembarked for the last time, lingering a little bit on the ramp to say goodbye to the ship that served the province so well.

We drove through the torrential rain to our hotel in Port Hardy, where we found a few postcards and fridge magnets featuring the Queen of the North in expo colours. We checked in, got cleaned up, and logged into the forum for the first time in 4 days. That was when we created a new member (CutePR) and posted a photo of the ship pounding across Hecate Strait (one of Brett’s photos). I went to bed around 1:30, and for once wasn’t swaying from side to side.