Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Spirit of British Columbia

In the middle of our holiday with our daughter's family, we headed out for an adventure, aiming ultimately to see the Tulip Festival in the Skagit Valley.  Step one was a trip on 'The Spirit of British Columbia', one of the two ferries plying the route between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  I enjoy ferry crossings, so I stayed outside and took lots of pictures.

This is not the ship that we sailed on, but its sister ship, 'The Spirit of Vancouver Island', which we passed going the opposite direction.  Two ships keep busy on this route every day in the summer.  As you can see, the route is pretty scenic.

This map shows the small parcels of land on the Gulf Islands that are part of the Gulf Islands NationalPark Reserve, but it also shows the ferry route if you can see the faint white line.  The ferry left from Tsawwassen just south of Vancouver (upper right corner of the map), sailed across the Strait of Georgia, and then in between several of the islands to dock at Swartz Bay, where #2 is on the map.

While still tied up at the dock in Tsawwassen, we were just across the bay from one of the big industrial docks in Vancouver, three container ships and a coal carrier (on the left) lined up at the docks.

These looked some large ocean-going ships. though the coal carrier is not the self-unloading kind that I see on the Great Lakes.

In the far distant haze to the north you could see the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver, but the mountains behind were lost in the clouds.

Before long we were pulling away from the empty dock.  This was one of the drive-on/drive-off ferries like the Chee-Cheemaun here in Ontario.  We drove in the bow, and drove straight off the stern.  Several full-size transport trucks were aboard.

There was a cold breeze blowing and I dressed warmly to stay outside under the wildly flapping B.C. flag.  Took several pix to get this one that actually shows the flag.

About halfway across we entered the channels between the islands, as you can see quite narrow in places.

We passed the sister ship going the opposite direction.

And we disrupted a flock of gulls, which simply whirled around and settled down again.  If I enlarge a bit of this photo, I can clearly see that these gulls have black heads, and that means they are Bonaparte's Gulls, a species I have never seen before.

This photo over the islands reminded me of the distant view of ridges in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The islands are a popular place to live, and this is the warmest corner of Canada, so you only get a minimal dose of winter.  We look forward to exploring more - tomorrow, our visit to Butchart Gardens, just over those hills.


  1. I am so glad you are getting to experience my little part of the world. I especially like that last picture, one that looks like many that I've taken myself over the years. :-)

  2. Beautiful ships, beautiful images!! Awesome capture of the sea gulls and breathtaking views of the mountains!! Family vacations, always the best!!

  3. When you enjoy traveling the pictures seem to be a tease only inviting you to see more. Great Pictures.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  4. What great ferries, and a wonderful scenic place. Love those gulls,wonder if they had found some food there.

  5. yes I can see why you stayed outside and enjoyed the scenery :-)

  6. Whenever we have ridden on ferries or even taken scenic boat trips, our favorite place to be is outside because like yourself, we don't want to miss seeing anything­čśŐ Looks like the weather cooperated as well.

  7. I've ridden ferries in the Puget Sound before and they are a lot of fun. It's amazing all the large vehicles they can fit on those vessels.

  8. I love ferry boat riding and when you live on the coast one does that a lot. Excellent pictures and info. thanks.

  9. Friends' son lives in Vancouver so they visit often, I can see why they like it there -- in addition to visiting family.

  10. I enjoy ferries too, FG. Great gull photo!

  11. I would have enjoyed that ride! I can understand that last view reminding you of the Smoky Mountains!