Sunday, January 14, 2007

BC Buries

There was another BC Ferries mis-hap (read: screw-up) recently. A guy driving a pickup truck was boarding - or at least attempting to board - when the ferry started pulling away. He braked, and the truck teetered on the edge: "It was surreal looking at ocean through my windshield". Shortly after he got out, the truck plummeted into the ocean.

This isn't the first time this has happened with BC Ferries. The above article mentions a couple of other cases, including "a 1992 accident that killed three people when the Queen of New Westminster pulled away early from Nanaimo's Departure Bay terminal, sending a van plunging into the water". (Not to mention the sinking of the Queen of the North, which had apparently been on autopilot. But that's another story.)

That a ferry can pull away prematurely even once is unbelievable to me. All it takes to prevent this is the same system that they have for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland; the person in charge of moving the vehicle does not do a thing until the person (or people) in charge of loading the vehicle gives the thumbs-up. Talking with my parents about the latest incident, I came up with an idea for when I next take a voyage. When it's my turn to drive on to the ferry, I will drive towards the ramp. Just before the ramp I will stop the vehicle and get out. I will then walk onto the ferry carrying the rope that I have brought, loop one end several times around a permanent structure, walk off the ferry with the remainder of the rope, and loop the other end around a landbased permanent structure. Returning to the car, I will drive on, park, get out, and retrieve my rope. Sound good?

The best part of the article is the very end, where B.C. Ferries president David Hahn is quoted as saying, "There are 180,000 sailings a year and things are going to happen. The question is how do we handle them and do we make it better?" Things are going to happen - seems like a shrugoff to me. How about being proactive and avoiding accidents and deaths? It just seems to me that it's a very easy thing to prevent: Tie the ferry to the dock and don't untie it until all the vehicles are on - what a groundbreaking idea! And I sure do hope that it was the article writer, and not Hahn, that left out the "how" after the "and" in his second sentence.

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