Day Seven - Tuesday August 21, 2001

M. V. Queen of the North

Prince Rupert BC - Port Hardy BC

15:00 sailing time - 314 miles

South on 'Queen of the North' to Port Hardy

Prince Rupert - Port Hardy

By Gizmo

Beep beep beep.  Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Ding ding ding.  

Prince Rupert is a departure point 
for many destinations

We're awake.  

In order to be sure we didn't miss the ferry, we set the alarm clock and both of our wristwatches to sound alarms at 5am.  The folks at the front desk of the Prince Rupert's Moby Dick Inn warned us to get to the ferry at least 90 minutes ahead of the scheduled sailing time, and we thought that was a pretty good idea.  Ferries typically load motorcycles first, and that will help us get off the boat sooner than later at the other end.  When we arrive at the toll booth, there are already quite a few cars and motorhomes in line.  It's raining pretty hard, and we're glad that we're going to be able to stay dry today.

The ticketing process for this ferry is not particularly efficient.  Whizmo made reservations for this sailing several months ago, has our printed confirmation in hand, yet the agent at the booth can't seem to find our reservation.  When he finally locates it, our meal vouchers aren't with the tickets, so we have to go inside the terminal to find them.  Given that they load more than 100 vehicles per sailing, it's surprising that their check-in procedure isn't more efficient.

Waiting to check in

"I'm not finding a reservation for Whizmo"

The boat hands load about five motorhomes at the bow before bringing the first wave of motorcycles on board.  We have been warned that the bikes will be firmly secured to the deck, but we're surprised when they hand us some chocks and ropes and tell us to tie down.  I guess they figure we'll be pretty careful, and they're right.

Yoo-hoo, want to buy some bear bells?

Chocked in, tied down

We're going to be on this vessel for 15 hours or more, so we drag all of our stuff up to our cabin.  Now Whizmo likes only the best accommodations (so does the Giz), so when he arranged the booking he made sure that we had the best cabin on the boat.  "Spare no expense", that's his motto.  The total bill for our passage, including two passengers, two motorcycles, three meals and a cabin is about $400 US.  So we're expecting some nice quarters.  

Smaller than my daughter's dorm room!

Testing the bunks

It is small, very small.  But it will do.  We have a private bath and two bunks so we can nap during the day.  Which we do.

It was a dark and stormy morning ...

The weather isn't getting any better outside, so we decide to cash in one of our meal vouchers at the buffet.  The dining room was actually quite nice, and very comfortable.  Given the length of the voyage ahead, we stretch out each refill of coffee, and take our time with breakfast.

We learn that there are 58 crew on board to service approximately 500 passengers.  The boat is 410 feet long; with a beam of 63.5 feet.  It's 8889 tons gross, carrying 157 average sized vehicles.  She cruises at about 19 knots.  The crew works a twelve-hour day, and lives aboard the boat.  They work fourteen days in a row, then get fourteen days off.  Whew.

After breakfast, we start hunting for an AC outlet so we can prepare today's website.  We finally locate one in the forward lounge, and we immediately take over the area and set up shop near an impromptu art gallery run by an artist from Stewart.  I tell her that Whizmo beat up a bear in her hometown.  She looks at me a bit strange.

The only AC outlet in town

The weather doesn't get any better during the day.  There are a few sunbreaks, but for most of the day visibility is limited and it's raining.

Stern view Lots of Goretex

Down on the car deck I noticed this fitting called a 'Fog Nozzle'.  It seems to me that there is plenty of fog up here without them having to create it.  Can someone explain to me what a Fog Nozzle is?

Stand back, it's a Fog Nozzle

It seems that the majority of the people on this boat speak German.  We start chatting with a couple over lunch, primarily because they spoke English.  We trade bear stories, Hyder stories, and generally enjoy complaining about the weather.

Whizmo recounts the bear beating, this time 
claiming he did it with his eyes closed

Riding on a boat for 15 hours is a long, drawn out experience.  We end up watching a video in the afternoon, 'Titan A.E.' for lack of anything better to do.  The people next to us enjoyed 'Titan A.E.' as much as we did.


And speaking of boats ...

Many of you were introduced to 'The Jerks' through our previous adventures.  In 1997 and 1999, our destinations were JerkFests, so our activities with the Jerks were well-documented within those respective trip logs.  JerkFests happen every other year, at least until we get tired of seeing each other.  In the spring of 2001, JerkMaster Lyle hosted the 5th biennial JerkFest at Lake Lanier, near Atlanta GA.  We rotate JerkMaster duties so everyone has a chance to demonstrate their prowess at logistics and planning.  It's not easy keeping a bunch of Jerks happy.

Whizmo swears it's all true

What you're about to read is a factual account of the events of JerkFest '01.  The names have not been changed; the events have not been glamorized for titillation.  In other words, we're not making this up.

Lyle planned well for JerkFest '01.  In fact, he sent everyone a detailed spreadsheet before the event detailing the supplies he planned to bring along, right down to toothpicks.  More than anything, Lyle desperately wanted to avoid being tagged with a nickname for screwing something up.  At JerkFest '95, Tom was was doing great until we discovered he packed only one bag of chips for 6 guys on a 4-day trip.  Thereafter, he was tagged with "One-Bag Boyle".  JerkFest '97: "No Coffee Carl" earns his stripes by bringing <no|none|zip|nada> coffee supplies.  (His defense - he doesn't drink coffee.  Lame, seriously lame.)  JerkFest '99: "No Junk Shunk"  neglects to provide the all-important memorabilia - no commemorative T-shirt, keychain, not even a friggin' bumper sticker.  So in 2001, Lyle was bound and determined to avoid a derogatory moniker, and he figured his best defense would be a good offense.  The spreadsheet was his blueprint for success.

Jerks Afloat, 2001

JF'01 started out great.  Lyle rented a large houseboat for us on Lake Lanier, and we floated around the lake with Carl and Lyle at the helm.  

JerkFest '01, Lake Lanier, northeast of Atlanta GA


Lyle is quite the chef, and he prepared sumptuous meals for his Jerk brethren, with plenty of chips to snack on between meals.

Lyle cooking, or maybe he's just washing his hands

JerkMaster Lyle also planned some activities for us, including a morning fishing expedition with a local fisherman as our guide.  Wade has been living in the area since he was born, and worked as an extra in the movie 'Deliverance', or at least most of us were pretty sure that we remember seeing him in the movie.

No Deliverance (of fish)

So generally things were going pretty well for the Jerkmeister.  The most appropriate name we could come up with for the big guy at this point was "Excel File Lyle", in deference to his really excellent planning.  Even though we knew we wouldn't be receiving any memorabilia at the actual event, he assured us that the shirts had been ordered, and we we were inclined to believe him, given the fact that he was cooking all the meals and we didn't want to piss him off just yet.  But "Excel File Lyle" just didn't have the staying power of "No Junk Shunk" or "One-Bag Boyle".  

We shouldn't have concerned ourselves.

Saturday afternoon rolls around.  We're pulling out of the dock where we have just filled up with gas and some more chips, Captain Carl at the helm.  As Carl pulls out of the slip, he snags an aluminum brace on the side of the boat against a dock fitting and the Lake Lanier Burger Barge.  Rip.  Grind.  Bending, contorting, shearing screeching metal sounds.   We examine the damage, determine that it's not going to sink the boat, figure we'll deal with the consequences later.  Sail on.

That leg had been vertical ... not anymore

OK, so we've got a minor mishap, but it's behind us, and it's a beautiful day.  In spite of the many boats on the lake, there are over 700 square miles of water to explore, so there's plenty of room for everyone.  

Lyle has borrowed a jet ski boat from a friend, and Jim has joined him in the little Yamaha rocket ship.  They're buzzing around the lake, throwing up rooster tails, having a great old time.  They circle the houseboat, yelling and screaming at us ... "Hey you Jerks! Check this out!"  Lyle heads straight for the houseboat, veering away at the last minute, throwing a spray against the bow of the houseboat.  "You didn't get us wet!" we yell back.  Whoops.  
(Note to self:  Don't challenge a Jerk behind the wheel of powerful machinery.)

The jet boat loops around and lines us up for another strafing run.  Lyle gives it full throttle, and heads straight for the large, slow, rectangular target (us).

What happened next is a little unclear, but the results are not:  somehow the Yamaha T-Bones the houseboat in perfect weather and calm seas in the middle of a 700 square-mile lake.  The other boats in the area are looking on in disbelief.

The JerkMaster rammed the houseboat Fortunately no one was in the living room at the time

Fortunately the damage was all above the waterline. We sheepishly head back for the dock to show the fools that rented us Jerks this expensive floating condo what we'd managed to do to their property, all in less than the 20 short minutes since we'd pulled out.  We direct them to the damage on the side of the boat and watch successive layers of management parade out, shaking their heads, saying "Now tell me again, how did this happen?"  

I have to grudgingly admire Carl's brass cajones in proposing that we ask the marina for a replacement boat.  

The rest of the afternoon was spent filling out accident reports, explaining over and over again how it happened.  Because there was more than $500 worth of damage -- significantly more -- the Georgia Department of Natural Resources was summoned to the scene.  They're like the police on the water.  As soon as they arrived, they immediately administered breathalyzer tests to Carl and Lyle, the skippers of the houseboat and jet boat.  Neither registered any reading on the test, leaving only poor boating skills to blame.  The rest of us Jerks asked, no, in fact we insisted that Carl and Lyle be arrested, and the DNR officers (Billy and Fishhook) agreed that it was the best for all if these two desperadoes were taken into custody.  

The Indiana Clipper and RamBoat being cuffed by Billy and Fishhook of the Georgia DNR

After the last form was filled out, the last picture was taken, and the last incredulous head was shaken, we had the chutzpah to ask if we could stay on the boat one more night, since we had paid for another full day.  They reluctantly agreed, but only if we agreed to stay in the slip.  The took the keys away from us just to make sure we couldn't do any more damage.

It would be nice to be able to say it ended there, but when Lyle took the jetboat back to its slip in an adjacent harbor, as he was stepping from the boat to the dock, he ended up in the water.  When he finally clambered out and took inventory, he realized that his cell phone was now on the bottom of the lake, where it remains to this day.  His car keys were in the same pocket - he might still be there if they had found Davey Jones' Locker.

The legacy of JerkFest 2001 is that Lyle did end up with a new nickname, something he was desperately trying to avoid.   From now on, among his Jerk brethren, he is known as 'RamBoat' (at least until he tops this stunt).  And Carl graduated from 'No Coffee Carl' to 'The Indiana Clipper'.  And if you're at the docks of Lake Lanier, and you hear a cell phone ringing ... it's for Lyle.

Whizmo here.  Hard to top that account.  I do have a few pictures of our current boating trip I thought I'd throw in.  It is really quite a spectacular voyage.  The ship is German and you can tell - all polished steel, hard woods, muted colors, with minimal fabrics and upholstery.  With three out of four people speaking German, I feel like I'm in Bremen.

Waterfalls cascade down from shore
on both sides of the boat
A rare sunny moment...
A Proper German Boat Despite gloomy weather, many passengers
venture out

We are hopeful for better weather tomorrow for the trip to Tofino.  If it is as bad as today, we might just bolt for home.

Gutten nacht....