I first travelled as a coastal steamship commuter sixty years ago. A city kid, I spent summers with a cousin 10-miles south of Powell River until my family moved there when I was 10. Before the 1954 opening of the highway and ferry link from the Sechelt Peninsula, that paper-making town situated about 85 miles north of Vancouver was linked to the outside world by the Princess Mary, a CPR coastal steamship. Passengers moved by steamship, automobiles by barge and trips to the big city took advance planning and much time.
Both Quillayute and Bainbridge had full dining facilities and old-timers, including me, remember happy anticipation of eating on the ferries. It helped pass the time and since this was before the days of pervasive food outlets, for many it was one of very few dining-out opportunities.
Today's 35-year old vessel is rated for 362 cars and it underwent refit in 2002, extending its life until 2022, according to plan. The ship though is showing signs of fatigue with what to a layman seems excessive rust in the visible steelwork of the car decks. I also put the non-functioning elevator down to poor maintenance. The ship, I'm told, runs occasionally below required manning levels. If traffic is heavier than expected, crew should be added to meet Canadian safety standards. This is not always possible on short notice but the ship might sail anyway.
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