Thoughts,Songs,Writings,Rants,Encouragements, and Life

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Klemtu Update...

The Queen of the North Sinks

The Queen of the North sank last night off the coast of B.C. It was en route from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy (a 17-hour journey) when it apparently struck Gill Island. A mayday distress call went out at about 12:30 a.m., then all passengers and crew were quickly evacuated to lifeboats once it was apparent that the boat was lost. The passengers spent about an hour in the tossing ocean before being rescued by locals from nearby Hartley Bay and by a Canadian Coast Guard vessel in the area. They watched the ferry disappear completely from sight in just under an hour.

This is HUGE NEWS here since the Queen of the North is OUR ferry and the families in Hartley Bay are extended relatives of our families. There were three or four Klemtu residents on board (all fine) and everyone has either travelled on the Queen of the North or knows someone who has. An all-night VHF (radio) vigil was kept until it was learned that everyone was safe.*

There were approximately 100 passengers and crew on board (with a capacity of 900) and 15 vehicles. The focus is now on finding out WHY the ferry sank, containing the oil spill and resulting environmental damage, and finding a replacement for the only functioning ferry on the Inside Passage route. The ferry is a means of cheap transportation north-south for people, and the main means for getting groceries and goods into the local First Nations communities along the way, including Klemtu. The only other ferry that services this route is in dry dock until June undergoing repairs.

For now everyone is just recovering from the shock of the sinking and thanking the people of Hartley Bay for their prompt, life-saving measures in rescuing the passengers. It's said that if the ferry had been at capacity there would have definitely been deaths as the lifeboats could not hold all the passengers. And if the ferry had run aground at another point on the route, there would certainly have been more deaths as there are very few communities on that part of the coast to provide assistance. We were very lucky indeed for it not to be a tragedy of Titanic proportions.

* We have since learned that two people (a couple) did in fact go down with the boat. We have also learned that the ferry was off-course by at least 1 km and that it is most likely "human error" that caused the ship to run aground. We also found out that had the Queen of the North been equipped by modern standards, it would not have sunk as it would have had two compartments, not just one - which is why it flooded and sank so quickly when the compartment was damaged.

Found this article thanks to Dawn Clement. If you are interested in more Klemtu info, check out Klemtu Chronicles.

Kindove freaky to think that in August I will be on a ferry just like this one. I hope that one actually stays afloat.

I am freaking excited about the upcoming May trip as well as the August trip. The May team leaves on the 4th and we returns on the 8th. Please begin praying for our safety, struggles, health, courage, speech, walks, talks, social skills, stomachs, and various other needs.

I am looking forward to hanging with some of the students that I left five years ago. All of them waving on the dock...wondering if I would return as I had told them I hoped I would.

I still have a pair of sunglasses from one of my fellow Klemtuian friends. I cannot wait to see you again Brandon...


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