Wednesday, 22 March 2006

M.V. Queen of the North

In the picture of me above, I’m leaning on the rail of the British Columbia Ferries’ M.V. (“motor vessel”) Queen of the North , heading north up the Inside Passage in July, 2002.

It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful place, on a beautiful ship, with my best beloved (who had been telling me for more than 20 years about her ride on the same route the summer before we met, and how we had to go back and do it together). As you can see, I was full of smiles. You would have been too, I think.

The Queen of the North was the pride of the B.C. Ferries fleet, and the Inside Passage service between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert is the second-longest ferry route in North America (after the Alaska Marine Highway service further offshore past the same stretch of coast between Alaska and Bellingham, Washington). The route goes through deep, narrow fiords, beetween steep slopes of forest and snow, with no signs of human habitation in more than 400 kilometers except for three or four tiny First Nations fishing communities.

Ferry service operates year-round, carrying passengers, cars, and cargo — the only other way to reach the communities along the route is by private boat or float plane. In summer, when the northern day is long, the Queen of the North makes the entire 16-hour run in daylight. In winter, it’s an overnight passage.

Shortly after midnight this morning, as most passengers were asleep in their seats or (for those with cabins) berths, the Queen of the North struck a submerged rock about 100 kilometers south out of Prince Rupert toward Port Hardy, and sank about an hour later in waters at least 200 meters deep.

Luckily, this happened near one of the few communities along the route. People in fishing and speedboats from Hartley Bay, alerted by radio, picked up the passengers and crew from lifeboats (in darkness, rain, two-meter chop and winds variously reported from 45 to 75 km/hour) and brought them to safety. Initial reports were that all were safe, but later reports raised questions about two missing persons who may or may not have been on the ferry.

(By the way, the recently-added caricature of me by at the top of the sidebar is courtesy of the ICANN Wiki folks, who commissioned Rhoda Grossman to sketch everyone they could buttonhole at the most recent ICANN meetings in Vancouver . What do you think? Do you prefer the photo, or the caricature? Let me know by e-mail, or in a comment.)

Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 17:18 ( 5:18 PM)

The Queen of the north was important to me. When I was a little girl, that was the only way off Queen Charlotte Islands, in Sewell Inlet, and I remember taking that ferry, so I will sadly miss my child hood memories of the Queen of the north

Posted by: Kristen, 12 April 2006, 22:16 (10:16 PM)
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