The family in the minivan left IKEA Richmond well after 4 PM, with flat boxes standing up inside the van, and bungee-corded snugly to the roof racks. Would they make the 5 PM sailing?! Not so, judging by the Hwy 99 backup, that stretched all the way up the ramp and onto Hwy 91 westbound. Argh!
Hopes for the 5 PM sailing were dimming, and that stout flat box on the roof was getting drenched in rain! What if the packing tape unglued, releasing the (metal!) flat box contents all over the highway?! Oh the horror!
Luckily our intrepid travelers zig-zagged onto the HOV lane on Hwy 99 southbound, took counterflow through the Massey Tunnel, and bombed under the BC Ferry travel advisory sign on Hwy 17, which menacingly declared “5 PM – POSSIBLE WAIT”.
The driver’s heart was gripped with panic as hydro-planing opportunities presented themselves on the Causeway. What did that road sign say?
Please ignore the posted speed limit if you’re rushing for the ferry!
Weaving around commercial trucks on the way through the final traffic light, the driver’s spirit leapt with joy upon spotting an open lane at the fare booth, inviting travelers to VICTORIA. Without fumbling any of the point-of-sale handoffs, fare payment was completed in record time, and the minivan was directed to LANE 42.
Which is where the agonizing wait began.
Lanes 43 and 44 were already loading the Coastal class vessel! Each of those vehicles appeared to wink back at our hopeful travelers as they confidently drove up the ramp, and onto the waiting vessel.
With the motor still running, the panicking voyagers strained for hope as the upper deck filled to capacity – from their position well back in Lane 42, they could see the car counter tick annoyingly toward the capacity limit for the Coastal Celebration.
There was clearly no reason to Celebrate as several BC Ferry commercial fleet vehicles then dragged 4 large semi-trailers into position to board the vessel. Our travelers watched in horror as the last possible free spaces on the lower deck must have been consumed by 18-wheelers stacking themselves onto the deck.
A proud union worker then walked slowly over to the bottom of the upper car deck ramp and dutifully closed the gate.
Our travelers looked sadly over at the Tsawwassen Quay market, wondering if pizza slices and gelato would soon be in their disappointed grips.
As the clock ticked closer to 5:00 PM, all hope had been drained from our travelers’ well.
Resigned to their 1-sailing wait, our driver reached for the keys, to turn off the ignition – but then noticed a flashing light at the head of Lane 42!!
Could it be!?!? A ferry worker waving their safety lantern to usher a few more cars onto the waiting vessel! 1 car, 2 cars, 3 cars, 4 more cars, and the lane kept moving….the lantern kept waving…..the minivan slowly accelerated, and confidently mounted the speed humps on the way down Lane 42, getting ever closer to the ultimate coastal glory – becoming the LAST CAR to board a waiting ferry!
On this rainy evening, all vehicles waiting in Lane 42 were invited aboard the vessel, to enjoy the many services aboard!
On deck 6, the Coastal Cafe lineup would soon include our relieved ferry travelers!
And back down on deck 2, a very wet box would receive respite from the rain, during the 95 minute voyage to Swartz Bay.