Ferry passengers home for the holidays

Brodie Thomas
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Happy Marine Atlantic passengers disembarked at the dock in Port aux Basques Thursday when the Joseph and Clara Smallwood arrived safely in port after crossing the Gulf in unfavourable sailing conditions.

Earlier this week, due to heavy seas and  high winds, Marine Atlantic was forced to keep the ferries at port delaying the transport of passengers and goods across the Gulf which had many people fearing they would not get home for Christmas.

Among the dozens of people waiting for loved ones to exit the ferry was a young boy named Kane Patey.

While others sat in the seats or stood against the wall, Kane and his grandmother, Bertha Strickland, stood at the edge of the security door at the Port aux Basques terminal.

Kane was waiting to see his mother for the first time in a year.

He craned his neck around a security guard, who showed the boy how to cross his fingers for good luck. Kane’s grandmother Bertha said she didn’t know for sure if his mom would be on the boat or not.

The ferry docked around 11:45 a.m. Thursday for the first time since Monday afternoon. There were tired but happy faces at the Marine Atlantic terminal in Port aux Basques as about 80 walk-on passengers came though security to collect their bags and make their way home.

A windstorm, which started on Monday, caused the Crown corporation to plan for a 72-hour shutdown in the three days leading up to Christmas Eve.

A break in the weather saw the Joseph and Clara Smallwood make a run for North Sydney, departing at

6 p.m. on Dec. 22.

Hundreds of vehicles full of ex-pats heading home for the holidays as well as tractor-trailers full of food and Christmas parcels rolled off the boat just moments after it docked in Port aux Basques Thursday.

Inside the terminal, taxi drivers were lined up against one wall, waiting to get fares from travellers who had missed the DRL bus by about four hours.

Candace Cains ran to embrace her mother, Mary.

“I didn’t really know for sure if she was going to make it home,” said Mary Cains. “I got my Christmas gift.”

Alvina Halbot sat down in the terminal after retrieving her bags. She said she was tired after waiting three days in North Sydney. She had set out from Toronto hoping to get home to Barachois Brook. She said she now needed a ride for the last 150 kilometres of her journey, but she had no doubt she would be home for Christmas.

Finally, 45 minutes after the boat docked, Kane’s mother, Kelly Strickland, ran to embrace her son. There were a few tears but mostly smiles as the family went to collect her bags from the carousel.


Weather persists

For the Avalon Peninsula and east coast of the province, Environment Canada has rainfall warning in effect. Between 50 and 100 millimeters of rain has already been recorded over much of the province.

Additional rainfall amounts of 20 to 40 millimetres are expected by this evening with the highest amounts expected over northeastern sections.

The strong persistent northeast winds will generate a storm surge of 50 to possibly 60 centimetres along coastal areas of Placentia Bay and along the east coast today.

These surges will coincide with a high run of astronomical tides and will produce unusually high water levels.

In addition, large waves will impact Newfoundland from the east-northeast.

These waves and pounding surf, combined with the high water levels may result in minor flooding close to the shoreline.


The Gulf News

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Environment Canada, Gulf News

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, North Sydney, Toronto Barachois Brook Avalon Peninsula Placentia Bay Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Alphonsus Roche
    December 29, 2010 - 12:12

    I agree with the Cornor Brook Landing it would knock off 218 Kilometers on the trip to St Johns less pollution, safer driving with less distance,goods could be cheeper with less fuel and driver time

  • jason
    December 25, 2010 - 09:54

    if Marine Atlantic had the ferry terminal in Corner Brook, there wouldnt be as many of these bad weather delays as the problem is docking in Port Aux Basques. Sure the seas were rough but most of these boats can handle the weather just not the docking when they get here. You will not see this changed until someone in Government has the skin to make the change.