Living on the Sunshine Coast has afforded me the experience of a daily commute by ferry. This is not an unheard of thing around Coastal British Columbia. Each ferry route offers a different experience and potential encounters with marine life.
My morning starts with a sunrise over the Smith Range and the glassy calm waters of the Malsapina strait, or an angry windy day were the seagulls have all flown to shore to ride out the wind and turbulent waters somewhere else.
Looking out from my home in the morning, I can see the ferry heading to Powell River from Texada Island. I also note the state of the Strait and know how my trip to Texada will be in terms of whether it will be smooth or rough. If you are a person who suffers from sea sickness, the winter months would be a roll of the dice with regards to the weather. The Strait can be calm in the morning, but as the day progresses, the weather can scale up to a point where the ferry is canceled. There have been a few times while at work that a phone call about the weather turns into a mad dash to catch the next sailing because it might be the last one of the day.
Time on the ferry has been a time for me to reflect. I read on the open deck if the weather permits. I have gotten to know some of the ferry hands. My father worked on BC Ferries, and I have good memories of him here. Taking in the fresh sea air and the ocean vista really has a way of centering me every day. Looking at a tug pulling its load of barges North, I wonder about its destination. A sailboat with a full sail of wind quietly make its way South and I wonder which harbor it will stop in later that night.
A few weeks ago, we experienced a traffic jam on route. A pod of five Orcas were feeding on a school of salmon and the ferry had to come to a full stop as the Orcas moved closer and closer to the ferry. At one point, they came within twenty feet of us. Unlike on a normal highway, people on the ferry were happy and did not seem to mind the delay. Seeing whales is a special treat.
The commute is different every day. Like life, in general one never knows what the day will bring on a ferry.