quinta-feira, março 23, 2006

Queen of the North sunk in Wright Sound

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Click to EnlargeClick to EnlargeMany and many the trip I took on this ship when I lived in Ocean Falls, and many the time Mike and I tied her up at the wharf; in freezing snow and wind and rain, all hours of the night and day. She used to take on water too sometimes.

And now they have gone and sunk her - ai ai ai.

Click to EnlargeClick to EnlargeClick to EnlargeAll hands safe but two: Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette. B.C. Ferries vessel Queen of the North, southbound from Prince Rupert under Captain Colin Henthorne, failed to make the turn from Grenville Channel into Wright Sound at Sainty Point, struck the shore of Juan Point at full speed and fetched up on Gil Rock just after 12:30AM on Wednesday March 22 off Gil Island in Wright Sound, rapidly took on water, began listing, slipped off the rock and sank within the hour. Fishermen and members of the Gitk'a'ata in Hartley Bay, alerted to the disaster by radio phone, jumped into their boats and pushed off into the dark stormy waters - blowing a gale, 40 knots or so (75 kilometres, 45 miles). Capt. Mark Taylor of the icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier heard the call and sent a fast boat and arrived himself about 2AM.

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge"We heard there was trouble and we went out."

First there were: Karl Fisher and his mother, Marty Dudoward, Danny & Mona Danes, Eddie, Marven Robinson, Jessel Bolton, Helen Clifton, Suzanne Johnston, Karen Clifton, Ernie Westgarth and his wife's mother, Nicole Robinson, Wally Bolton, Shelby Robinson, Chris Bolton, Clare Hill, Belle Eaton, and all of the people of Hartley Bay; and then there was the nameless Coast Guard numpty who said, "wait till we get there."

"They just all got together, they organized this thing without one person in charge," said Ernie Westgarth - there is a lesson in that. They didn't listen to the Coast Guard either, they did what they had to do and took the survivors in out of the cold and wet.

Click to EnlargeClick to EnlargeClick to EnlargeNow people are saying, "Oh, I'm so proud to be a Canadian." I am proud of these people alright, name the replacement ferry after them, call it the Queen of Hartley Bay or the Spirit of Hartley Bay, they deserve to be honoured; but I hope nobody gets sucked into thinking that being Canadian had anything to do with it. Canadians can look at them and see what they, the Canadians, have lost, given up; and the people of Hartley Bay can laugh since the ferry never stopped there anyway, never served them. And Canada? Canada took their land and resources and squandered them, remember?

B.C. Ferries site with many photgraphs of the scene: Queen of the North Sinking

Collection of photographs of the Queen of the North in better days: Stena Danica - Queen of Surrey - Queen of the North

Maps above copied from: BC Fishing Resorts & Outfitters Association, Encarta, and Google Earth.