Monday, June 29, 2015

In the belly of the beast

Port aux Basques, NL – We made it to New-foundland! And we were greet-ed with rain falling sideways and warn-ings of gusts up to 100 km per hour after a rough crossing. You gotta be tough to come out to The Rock!

There were already long lineups of cars and transport trucks at the mustering point for the ferry in North Sydney when we got there around 9:30. We were guided to Lane 21 on the large flat apron near the loading dock, where we sat for nearly two hours to get on board. It was raining the whole time, so we were quite content to stay in the vehicle, although some people went into the building for coffee or to stretch their legs.
Finally the PA system announced that it was time to get on board. Attendants dressed in high-visibility slickers guided the long line of huge transport trucks, holiday trailers with trucks, motorhomes and cars onto two different access levels. We marveled that this extremely heavy cargo of vehicles could all get into a vessel that would actually float and not go straight to the bottom.

Inside, more attendants showed drivers where to park their vehicles. We were packed in like sardines, with clearance between the rows that was less than a shoulder-width apart! We had to fold our mirrors in so we wouldn’t graze the sides of our neighbours’ vehicles.
Once our rig was settled in place, we left the loading bay and headed up to the passenger level. There, we found amenities of all kinds: a restaurant, snack bar, gift shop and various lounges with comfortable chairs and large TV screens. There was an internet station with several computers, plus washrooms and a play area for children.

We decided to have a mid-day dinner in the restaurant and save the sandwiches I’d prepared for the end of our trip. It was a tasty meal, and we had a window seat so we could look out at the waves. And waves there were; our server said it might be a bit rough crossing and advised that we sit near the stern for a less unpleasant experience. We also popped a seasick pill with our meal just in case.
The pills worked wonders. We were both konked out in no time in our comfortable chairs, blissfully unaware of the heaving vessel that carried us away from mainland Canada. The crossing took about five hours. When we regained consciousness and tried to move about, we reeled like drunken sailors, grabbing for railings whenever possible! So most of the time we just zoned out in our chairs. The driving rain pelted against the windows and all one could see through the wet glass were white-capped swells and grey sky, so we didn’t miss a whole lot.

Finally, we returned to our vehicles as we arrived at Port aux Basques, and filed onto shore. The John T. Cheeseman Provincial Park campground where we are staying was just 10 km from the town, and we arrived before a great horde of other campers, so we didn’t have long to wait to get registered and settled in our reserved site. With only electricity to hook up, we were inside in the dry in no time.

No comments: