Saturday, May 1, 2010

Water Taxi Neighbors

On the Dock

There's always something going on at Discovery Harbour Marina, something of interest to draw my attention away from the task at hand. The wake from a seal gliding by, the motion of a surfacing merganser, the raucous cry of gulls harassing an eagle in flight, the delighted laughter of children who spy an otter or glimpse the flashing silver of a moving school of fish, the rough revs of a cold diesel engine firing up, or even a squeaky cart piled with interesting stuff -  these sights and sounds are frequently just beyond the window. It's all part of the fun of mooring along the main pier.

One of our neighbors on the main pier is Way West Water Taxi. WW operates a fleet of half a dozen aluminum crew boats that service small island communities, logging camps, lodges, resorts, etc. Weekdays begins with the sounds of passengers gathering or offloading, engines firing up, delivery vans arriving and freight moving up and down the ramp from the parking lot. 

I can’t begin to count the number of daily commuters, logging crews, and other passengers that rely on these vessels to go about their lives.  But Way West keeps track of passenger count and freight tonnage.

Thursday's freight load alone totaled over 14,000 pounds of groceries and supplies - that’s 7 tons folks! That tonnage included over 5000 pounds of tree seedlings. Try to visualize the quantity of boxes it took to package those evergreen starts. Impressive stacks of white cardboard boxes were piled high at the top of the ramp, a sight impossible to ignore. So I pestered the crew for details. Each box held 250 to 300 individual cedar or fir seedlings, and there were 150 boxes weighing 35 pounds each. You do the math. I get tired just thinking about the energy it takes to get the groceries, miscellaneous freight and the seedling boxes down to the dock and then loaded onto the various boats for transport. 

They just smile and shrug it off as all in a days work.

How do they stay so upbeat, so positive everyday? year round? in any weather? when the tide is low and the ramp is steep? 

Water taxi passengers are a varied and interesting mix of ages, attire and baggage. Chain saws, guitar cases, bird cages, potted plants, long runs of computer cable trays, plastic storage containers, barbecues, whole estates worth of landscaping materials… it all moves via water taxi. 

On Friday morning one surfer (with surfboard) was a passenger, and later on half a dozen gray-haired seniors carried their snow skis aboard another boat. We're sitting here at sea level, so what's up with the skis? Will they be heli-skiing from a resort? Or did they just come from Mt. Washington here on Vancouver Island and now are off on some different kind of adventure?   

We moor in town, within easy walking distance of grocery stores, restaurants, hardware stores, etc. The car is parked nearby for longer errands or when I need to transport heavier loads. Everything is so convenient that I take for granted the ease of shopping and the ready access to services, even wi-fi internet. Okay, maybe not so much the internet access since the reception and connectivity comes and goes at our location. But here at the dock I do catch a wee glimpse of the life in the more remote areas, those small communities not serviced by roads or the large BC ferries. It certainly takes a lot of planning ahead when everything travels on the water.

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