Tag Archives: winter boat ride

Nice day for a boat ride?

Not really.
It could have been worse, but it was a rough ride this morning between Islesford and Great Cranberry, with northwest winds blowing 25 to 30 knots. Still, I had planned to visit my mom in Bar Harbor, so off I went at 8:15.
My young friend Whitaker does not like boat rides like this. They make him seasick. So, he just sits by the open door, getting fresh air and keeping an eye on the horizon. Typical island kid, taking the boat ride in stride. We grow them tough out here.
Looking east through one of the boat windows:
Looking east through the same window a few seconds later:
Freezing spray. Good times.
I went into a little more detail about the winter boat rides in an article I wrote two years ago for the Working Waterfront.
In a nutshell, here are the 10 tips to consider when taking a winter ferry ride to the mainland:
1. Know the local weather forecast for the day. If a storm is predicted for the afternoon, you could be stranded on the mainland by a canceled afternoon boat.

2. Dress warmly and in layers. You may not feel the wind at your house, but it is almost always blowing at one of the docks.

3. Leave enough extra time before the boat leaves to scrape the windshield of the vehicle you are using to get to the dock. Also enough time to shovel, if there has been snow. Then take that shovel and scraper with you to the mainland because you will probably need them there.

4. Have a plan B in case you can’t get your island car started. As in: find someone else to give you a ride, or leave time to walk to the dock.

5.  Make sure you have the phone number of the mailboat and of Ted, the faithful crew member, in case you are running late. In the winter they are usually very good about waiting the extra few minutes, if they know you are coming.

6. Before boarding the boat, hang on to the railing and watch your step as you make your way down the stairs on the side of the dock. They can be extremely icy. Especially if the tide is going out.

7. When the wind and choppy water cause the boat to smash against the dock, or go up and down precariously, say “yes” to the person who offers to take your bags and reaches to give you a steadying hand as you board the boat. No matter how spry you may be, the moving target of a slushy boat deck is an unstable step.

8. The inner benches of the Sea Queen‘s cabin are the most comfortable seats. The boat windows above the outer bench seats have been known to leak in a few places, dripping slightly, and causing a wet bottom to the passenger who is unaware. This is not such a worry when the outside temperature is cold enough to freeze the spray before it leaks through the window.

9. Don’t sit at the stern end of the middle benches if you are a woman who is pregnant or of the age to experience hot flashes. The heater on the boat is just below those seats. On a cold winter day it runs at full blast. Conversely, do sit in those seats if you tend to feel cold, or you have poor circulation, or your thyroid is not quite working up to par. The new heater works very well.

10. Before you board, check the demeanor of those who are getting off the boat. If these people are shaky, ashen-faced, rolling their eyes, or looking stoically frightened; they may have had a pretty rough ride. This is your chance to reconsider your own plans, and go off the island on a calmer day.


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