(Photo courtesy of Rick Stiebel)

Rickter Scale: Parking lots and sail pitches

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

Our virgin voyage on BC Ferries began a few days before in Montreal circa 1974.

We picked up a vehicle to transport to Calgary from a dealer, not the kind we were used to dealing with. Somewhere in northern Ontario another driver frantically alerted us that our tail lights were kaput.

Since George and I were in a windowless white van in the middle of a blinding blizzard, it seemed prudent to get that checked out.

The garage in Wawa was closing, but the owner kindly let us attempt repairs.

Because we had just gobbled down something to keep us wired for an all-night drive, rewiring the lights seemed like a smart decision.

We dropped the van off in Calgary and picked up a nearly new Mustang to deliver to the Lower Mainland.

An hour out of the Stampede City, we got to watch pieces of transmission careen across the highway in the rear view mirror, which is how we ended up on an all-night bus ride from Golden.

We headed out to Tsawwassen later that day, ignorantly unaware that what we believed was a 20-minute cruise would add another three hours to our ordeal.

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I’ve been lucky enough to be last on the Queen of something, but only because I blew through the last red light at 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

I’ve also experienced being the last vehicle to not drive aboard, a combination of Kharma and the jerk who passed me on the approach to the toll booths.

I’ve experienced delays caused by mechanical issues that forced my 10-year-old son to convince me not to confront four ferry workers having coffee at a picnic table during another three-hour delay.

Another favourite involves returning from an anti-crime seminar while working with the West Shore RCMP. We were officially informed that mechanical issues delayed departure, but the truth was everyone else was forced to wait for our Lieutenant Governor so he didn’t have to miss his preferred sailing.

That brings us to my most recent ride, when we cruised over to Coquitlam to pick up the bride’s new ride.

We planned to do the dreaded there and back in one day as painlessly as possible so we made a reservation, not the best financial move considering the boat was barely half full when we arrived at the terminal.

Of all the modes of transportation that could delay our return to the Island, it was ironically an iron horse in New Westminster pulling an E & Endless string of freight cars that quashed any hope of making the 3 p.m. We were confident we’d make the five o’clock though because we were in the first line of vehicles, and the cash-grab kiosks in the terminal resembled a ghost town.

When it was time to set sail, however, everyone who got there after us drove aboard while we barely managed to squeeze on.

I’m reworking the lyrics to an old Gerry and the Pacemakers tune that no one under 60 will remember in honour of that trip.

The title’s tentatively tweaked from “Ferry Across the Mersey” to “Ferry at Their Mercy.” It helps kill time while I wait for a response explaining what the hell happened from the admiral in charge.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

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