Thursday, April 10, 2008

Who's running the boats?

What's wrong with this picture? Two people, a man and a woman, are on the bridge of a ferry going the graveyard run from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy -- whether they were having sex at the time, no one knows because they still refuse to allocute or stipulate as to what they were doing. The ship misses a key turn, goes off course for 14 minutes, runs around and sinks -- along with a cargo hold full of trucks, buses and automobiles. Most on board manage to escape but two lives are lost. No sanctions and no charges -- not criminal neglience causing death, not depraved indifference causing death. Last I heard, BC Ferries is still looking for a replacement boat but no sanctions against the company.

That was in 2006. And apparently, no sanctions against the ferry company either.

Fast forward to St. Patrick's Day this year. A long time sailor, retired from the same ferry company but still on a part-time contract, took a forbidden route on the Vancouver-Victoria run resulting in a near miss with a freighter -- just 200 metres. Seems the captain took the south entrance to Active Pass, not the long way or around it. The captain was fired on the spot even though no lives were lost and the ship made it safely to port without an otherwise incident.

In this part of the world, we don't normally depend on ferries and that's a good thing. But there are some ferry routes here in Ontario, most notably those to Wolfe and Pelee Islands as well as the summer route between Tobermory and Manitoulin Island. God forbid something should happen to one of those boats but one can imagine what would happen if something did.

No one would get charged, naturally. After all, maritime law is different.

I've always wanted to take a driving tour of BC. Stories like the ones above make me think twice about that.

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