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Delayed BC Ferries passengers get time for cake, and time to eat it too

Passenger recalls picnic-like terminal party after faulty fire gear delays Northern Adventure
Finally the skies opened, a rainbow shone, and the delayed Canada Day sailing left Prince Rupert for Haida Gwaii, one day short of the Fourth of July. (Dawn-Ann Schneider/Submitted)

Getting stranded at the Prince Rupert ferry terminal can be a real picnic, at least on a summer long weekend.

Dawn-Ann Schneider got held up for hours at the Rupert terminal on July 1 and again on July 3 until a technician finally flew in from Miami and replaced some faulty fire-detection gear on the Northern Adventure.

After 21 years in Sandspit, it wasn’t her first time getting waylaid by BC Ferries.

But this time there was better food.

“I’ve got to say, it wasn’t that bad,” she said. “The staff were really positive and really open about what was going on.”

By 10 a.m. Sunday, when the Haida Gwaii ferry should have sailed, Schneider said BC Ferries staff were handing out bowls of apples, bananas, and oranges to the hundreds stuck in the terminal lot. That sailing and the following one were fully booked.

After the fruit came coffee, water, and apologies.

“By the middle of the day there were sandwiches and a great big Canada Day cake,” said Schneider, laughing.

“It’s like, where are you guys all winter when it isn’t just tourists waiting?”

After driving up from a medical appointment in Vancouver, Schneider was eager to get home. But she was glad to book the last room at The Crest while her husband lined up for their refund Sunday — many others scrambled for somewhere to stay.

“I think it puts a lot of pressure on Prince Rupert when that happens,” she said.

Schneider also met tourists who had to re-arrange or cancel their trips to Haida Gwaii.

“There were two girls trying to talk anybody else into sharing the Inland charter flight with them,” she said. “They had trips planned down into the national park and they needed to be here.”

The Northern Adventure finally set sail the night of Tuesday, July 3 after another four-hour, snack-fuelled delay at the Prince Rupert terminal. The next morning, Schneider finally arrived on island after a month away — just not the right one.

They docked just in time to find the 12:50 p.m. Kwuna sailing to Moresby full, so they waited again for the 3:40 p.m. to get home to Sandspit.

“It’s been rough,” said Schneider, speaking from the ferry halfway to Alliford Bay.

“All we want to do is get home.”