Playing Chicken With A Ferry

in Ferry
Playing Chicken With a Ferry
Far off in the distance I could barely make out what I thought was a small town named Crofton. The town held no particular interest to us, but the Ferry that ran from Crofton to Salt Spring Island, was on the move. This Ferry provides automobile service from Vancouver Island, BC. We were on an intersecting course, thus avoiding a collision was high on my list of things to do in the next thirty minutes. Quintin was at the helm of Quartet our rented forty foot trawler. We were returning from the city of Nanaimo. Tomorrow we would dock at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island where we would clear customs. Quartet was plowing along at a slow but steady fuel saving four mph right down the middle of the three mile wide waterway that separates the two islands. Clear sunny weather and flat seas were the order of the day. No other boats were in sight and except for the occasional seal head popping up for a quick look around, we were alone. The Ferry was barely visible off to the side, but Ferrys move fast and not sure of the Ferrys course or intentions we were paying close attention as the distance between us steadily shrank. The inter Island ferries are double ended, they move forward or backwards equally well. They have propellers and rudders at each end, and both ends are rounded, with a vehicle ramp and cavernous open door. It is very hard to tell exactly where these marine monsters are pointed when moving, but this one seemed to be pointed at us. The discussion in Quartets wheelhouse was where is he going, what should we do The Ferry was moving at considerable speed, rapidly closing the gap between us. We continued straight on our course. I pondered what to do because something needed to be done, and soon. We had several choices, we could stop dead in the water and let this guy run over us, not good. We could turn away and try to out run him, not even possible. We could turn straight at him hoping he would chicken out to avoid scratching his pretty paint job, seems likely to be a stupid move. I yell over to Quintin, why dont you speed up a little. Quartet leaps forward and doubles her speed. Our once fuel saving lack of wake is now a three foot curl of water. If there were any small boats nearby, they would undoubtedly give us a big friendly thank you wave. It sure seemed like the Ferry was slowly changing course, still heading right for us. Maybe we should call on the radio, and say something like what the hell do you want us to do, you big bully, leave us alone. By now the distance is down to about half a mile, we are directly in front of this Ferry and we feel like we are soon to be run down. Once again I say to speed up. Quartet responds with a huge cloud of black smoke as Quintin pours on the coal, our wake is now suitable for surfing. The diesel motor is gulping fuel at an astonishing rate. The Ferry is no longer coming at us, they will pass well behind us. We pull away from certain death, the Ferry is letting us go. Quintin throttles back to our earlier leisurely pace and things settle down in the wheelhouse, when suddenly the VHF marine radio crackles to life so loud we all jump. This is the Canadian Ferry calling the American motor Yacht Quartet, over. I look over at Quintin and motion for him to answer the radio call since the microphone is right next to him. His response is, I didnt do anything, Its not my fault, Im not driving, and he walks out the door, leaving me alone with no one steering the boat, and a Ferry Captain wanting to talk. I walk over to helmsmans seat, and make my-self comfortable. Im pretty sure the Ferry Captain thinks we got in his way, so to not cause an international incident while we are in foreign waters, I speak into the microphone and simply say, This is Quartet, I apologize! No response from the Ferry, and there are no further radio communications. Quartet keeps on a steady course straight down the middle. John
this article and others are excerpts from www.triptalkusa.com
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Playing Chicken With A Ferry

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This article was published on 2010/11/01