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Photo: Windy day on Hecate Strait

(Credit: Isolino via Flickr)

My first time on the Queen of Prince Rupert ferry was at 19 years old. I was a green crew member for BC Ferries on the Northern Routes. We set sail out of Prince Rupert to Skidegate (on Haida Gwaii) on Oct 17, 1981. As soon as we passed the rock jetty we hit five-foot swells and kept going. I didn't even have my boat ticket or first aid yet. What normally took six and a quarter hours took nine.

We hit the worst storm and thank God it was daylight. We were about three hours out to sea when it hit us—25 foot waves. The Captain turned the vessel to head directly into it. I was on the bridge deck serving coffee and almost lost everything but managed to hang on to the railing. The Captain said "Go out on the bridge wing if you like". No thanks. I didn't want to be swept overboard. It wasn't the waves but the sand bars that were the hazards, I was told by a deckhand.

There was a crash on the car deck and then the alarm sounded. A big rental truck broke free of the chains and tipped over spilling pop bottles and fuel which was spilling into crews quarters down below.

We went to get the night crew out. Most of them were sleeping and a deckhand was stationed as fire-watch at the ready with a hose. He was green from the fumes. I had to tell crew and passengers, "No smoking on board!"

We were half way there and the storm did not pass. The Captain told us that we might have to turn back if the seas don't calm down in the next hour. More shallow waters ahead and those dreaded sandbars. I prayed like I never prayed before and about a half an hour later, we had sunshine! WOW!!

I was so grateful, what a rush that was for me, without my camera. I will never forget the power of Mother Nature or our wonderful Captain and crew.

Message to Canadians: Please help to keep our British Columbia Beautiful. Remember 'No Jobs on a Dead Planet!'

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/pacific-ocean-stories/windy-day-on-hecate-strait/

By Rolonne Mearie Ross

Surrey, B.C.

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2 Comments

Sep 25, 2012
10:16 PM

Thank-you for publishing this.I was so shocked to see it. No Enbridge!,For our birds, wildlife and communities ,we have to start now . No jobs on a Dead Planet!!!R.Ross!

Sep 17, 2012
5:06 PM

What a story! My heart is pumping because I have also sailed the Hecite Strait and have experienced how quickly the seas can build. I a vacation to Haida deeper changed my life by giving me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Natural world. Howa

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