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Story ID:1573
Written by:Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired RN/Freelance Writer and Photographer
Story type:Travel
Location:Clarenville Newfoundland and Labrador Canada
Person:A Beautiful Ferry Boat
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'The 'MV Caribou'

This is the 'MV Caribou', one of the multimillion dollar ferries that transports cars, trucks, trailers, people,and animals to Newfoundland and Labrador, and back to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The ferries give us a link to the Mainland of Canada. Many argue that it is an extension of the Trans. Canada Highway and should be a free service, however I doubt that will ever come to be.

I love this boat, she is a good sea boat and does not pound as much as some other ferries we have tolerated in the past. She even has a playroom for children and a great cafeteria. Her sister ship, identical to this, is called the 'Joseph and Clara Smallwood' after the last father of Confederation and his wife who are both now deceased. It was Joey Smallwood who engineered Newfoundland's entry into a Confederation with Canada with a mere 52% vote.

Of course to be obstinate I say that 'CANADA' joined us rather than the other way around. Many people still do not agree with the Confederation, but that was in 1949, I was born in 1948, so can't blame me for voting!

There was another 'MV Caribou' but she was sunk in 1942,during WW11 by a German submarine called 'THE LAUGHING COW'. The commander of that submarine attacked a ship that was no threat, and was the cause of the lost of so many lives of women and children who were heading to Nova Scotia to welcome a contingent of RCN sailors home from overseas. The tragedy was horrific to the people of Newfoundland.

I was definitely not in favor of naming this ship the 'Caribou', however I have come to like her.Nobody cared what I thought anyway!!! (Tongue in Cheek!!) Considering some of the rafts we crossed the Gulf of St.Lawrence on, this is pure heaven.

She has bow thrusters, and all the latest technology for navigation etc. but in those photos she is lying off Port aux Basques, her port of entry from North Sydney, NS, because of the high winds. She is so big that it is truly amazing how they get her turned around in Port aux Basques Harbour. But they do.

She is what we call 'lyin' to', waiting for the wind to lessen.

I am thankful I was not on the 'Caribou' at this time, and in this storm. However the passengers and crew, used to the sea, were not in the least bit sick. They were sick of waiting to dock but not seasick. I would imagine the bar was open and some talented person was playing an instrument with the crowd singing. She has a beautiful lounge called 'THE KILLICK', named after a type of anchor. In 'THE KILLICK' you can see a massive soapstone carving that done by an Inuit man from Labrador.

Newfoundland beer, high seas, singing,playing board games and spending money at her gift shop--what an adventure it all would be!!

You would have to be an Islander to understand it I guess.

The 'MV Caribou' is special, so many trips I have made on her I have lost count. She is our only link to the mainland of Canada other than flying.

So here's to the 'MV CARIBOU', and other ferries whose crews go down to the sea in ships to navigate them and serve the people of Newfoundland. They take great pride in their work, even as they are chaining the vehicles down and giving me the goose bumps! It is an accepted way of 'Crossing the Gulf' as it is referred to many times as in the question 'When do you cross?', and we all know what it means.

Newfoundlanders are used to the Ferry, and many do not mind the crossing in summer and fall. But once the October Gales start it can be a daunting trip.

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe.

An afterthought-Isn't it strange that we refer to ships as 'SHE'? Any thoughts on that?