Baseline Ferry sails past the “Colwood Crawl”

Harbour ferry Grey Selkie

The Grey Selkie is one of two Victoria Harbour Ferry Company vessels that transport base employees between Colwood and Esquimalt. The money and time saved using this service is phenomenal says A/SLt Ron MacDougall.

Every weekday morning I ride downhill on my mountain bike to D-Jetty in Colwood to catch the Baseline Ferry, a service offered by the Victoria Harbour Ferry Company.

I am one of the more than 300 passengers who ride the Grey Selkie or the Linda May II to Dockyard or Naden daily. Instead of sitting in my car driving in the Colwood Crawl, I’m happily avoiding the 40 minute nerve-racking drive by taking the ferry.

Upon arrival here last February from Eastern Canada, I was surprised to see the sheer volume of traffic funnelling into Esquimalt, causing stop and go traffic on weekday mornings. The return trip can be even worse often taking at least an hour.

On the other hand, the ferry trip across the harbour takes a maximum of 15 minutes, so for me it’s a no brainer. The cost of a one-way ticket is $2.50 and it is even cheaper as a regular commuter to use prepaid punch cards or a monthly pass.

“I use the Baseline because of the frustration of being in traffic and it’s better on the environment,” says Anita Didrich from Shop 171 at the Fleet Maintenace Facility and fellow commuter. “Also, while we sit on the boat every day we meet new people – it’s very social.”

As a friendly Nova Scotian, I find it’s easy to strike up a conversation in the relaxed atmosphere, which is obvious by the numerous conversations heard during the trip. This open atmosphere is also felt by the ferry staff.

“We feel like they belong to a larger family. We transport the same people day in and day out, twice a day, so things often run on a first name basis,” says Barry Hobbis, Vice President of Victoria Harbour Ferries. “The staff is amazed at how warm and fuzzy the people are at 7 a.m. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Another one of my fellow commuters, CPO1 Robert Anderson from MARPAC Headquarters energetically adds, “People often don’t believe in the savings until they try it for themselves. I can also get some work done on my Blackberry and there is plenty of parking on the Colwood side – a real bonus.”

After purchasing a ticket from the friendly staff at the small ticket building, I typically wait under the large tent with the other passengers – much appreciated on rainy days. After boarding, the ferry pilot, known to commuters as “Captain Bill”, gives the two minute departure signal (four short blasts) and confirms via walkie-talkie that no one is left behind. It is obvious that the comfort, safety, and well-being of the Baseline passengers is priority number one.

The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company recently expanded its service to include Victoria Shipyard workers, leaving Colwood at 5:40 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. to accommodate the early shifts. Regular ferry services run from 6 a.m. until 8 a.m. and includes three hourly runs during lunch. Service resumes at 2:50 p.m. with the last ferry departing at 4:50 p.m.

When asked why Baseline Ferry is the first choice for many commuters, first mate Ian Roberts says, “It usually comes down to two major factors for the passengers: the horrendous amount time it takes to drive that short of distance and the higher cost to commute by vehicle.”

-A/SLt Ron MacDougall, BPAO Trainee

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  1. Bob Whalen says:

    The Blue Boats were GREAT and thank Goodness there is still Transportation to the Dock Yard this way…Thank You everyone…We hope to get posted back to Esquimalt and we will for sure use this…THANK YOU FOR KEEPING SOMETHING RUNNING….

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