Friday, June 18, 2010

Ferry to Mainland British Columbia

Lynda and I enjoyed our brief stay in the Victoria area of Vancouver Island but we also wished we had time to see more of Vancouver Island.  As luck (?) would have it, we got our wish.

We had reservations to take Thursday's 1 PM ferry from Victoria-Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen and so we had plenty of time on Thursday morning to sleep in a bit and then get everything squared away to leave.  All was well until I hopped in the driver's seat just before 11 AM and turned the ignition key.  Guess what happened? 


The chassis battery was 80% discharged and did not have enough juice to start the engine. I quickly realized that this was entirely my fault: Not only had I left the backup camera turned on for 4 days, I had the GPS plugged in to the cigarette lighter, and also left the dashboard radio powered up to display the clock. Any one of these things by itself would probably not have drained the battery, but all three proved to be too much.  I guess that cold and cough made my head more foggy than I realized.

One of the maintenance men at the RV Park tried to give us a jump start but he could not get a good connection with his cables to the battery terminals and so I call BC's Triple A (BCAAA). I decided to give Coach-Net a break :-)

Within 15 minutes, a guy named Rob showed up but he could not get it going.  He kept asking if I had something powered up because he was getting a spark when he connected the jumper cables. I suspected he might be doing something wrong but the darn chassis battery is in a terrible location and its hard to reach or even see the terminals.  After about 30 minutes of fiddling around, Rob called his boss for help.  So Brian-the-boss shows up within 10 minutes and immediately realizes that Rob had his positive jumper cable on the negative terminal of my battery. 

("Lord", I asked, "please give me patience.")

Brian had little difficulty connecting his jumper cables and, within a few minutes, the Trek started up and was ready to go.  Yay!   I asked Brian how long I needed to drive the Trek to get the battery fully charged again and he said, "at least 3 hours."  

So, we drove that darn RV around the Southeast end of Vancouver Island for over 3 hours.  And that is how we got our wish to see more of the island.  You can view a few photos here.

Be careful what you wish for.

Obviously, we did not make the 1 PM ferry as originally planned, but we were able to get on the 5 PM ferry.
This ferry ride was different from the one we took from Port Angeles. The ferry that goes between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen is a much bigger boat that the Coho and is run by BC Ferry Services. There are three vehicle decks, and they hauled at least 8 RVs, several tractor-trailer rigs, numerous other large vehicles and at least 200 or so passenger cars on our trip over. This ferry company does not allow dogs on any of the passenger decks and so Barley and Sydney made the crossing in the Trek.  This was probably just as well as the ferry was crowded.

The crossing from Victoria-Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen also took about 90 minutes, but the water was much smoother than the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and the ferry was moving faster than the Coho.  There was also more to look at as the ferry wound its way between the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia.  We hoped to see one or more Orca whales, which are commonly found in this area, but settled for spotting a group of seals instead.  Photos of our ferry crossing are posted here.

We were both very nervous that when we got to Tsawwassen the Trek would not start up. I can only imagine how unpopular we would have been to have an inoperative 30 foot RV blocking who-knows-how-many vehicles from exiting the ferry.  Anyway, the Trek fired right up and away we went! 

We were now on the mainland of British Columbia. Despite arriving 4 hours later than intended, we decided to make our way to the town of Merritt as planned.  And so we did.  The light was fading as we drove but we could still see how pretty the area is as we made our way up and down mountainous roadways. Fortunately, the highways are very good and, although I was tired, I was happy to be on the move. 

We arrived in Merritt, a small city in the Nicola Valley, a little after 10 PM and found a gas station.  We filled the Trek up for the first time since landing on Canadian soil and discovered that gas costs over $4.00 a gallon.  Oh well, its not like we're going to turn back now! 

We spent the night at a Wal-Mart, excited to be on the mainland and looking forward to driving through the beautiful countryside the next day.

No comments:

Post a Comment