The Queen of Oak Bay ran aground this morning. The B.C. Ferries news release is available here and the CBC report is here. At this point, it sounds like no one is hurt, but several boats were destroyed. The the ferry lost power during a turn into the dock and had to coast into shore.
I saw the report on the noon news. After my initial shock and awe, I got to thinking. Where would I have pointed the ferry in if I’d been captain at the time (and if I could have pointed the ferry without power, of course)?
If memory serves, there is a solid wall of rock on the east side of the dock. Would I go in there? Would I take on the dock itself? Or would I aim for the shore near the marina, like the captain obviously did?
Well, assuming I had time to think about it……
If I ran into the rocky bank under the highway, several hundred passengers and a similar number of cars on board would have been launched foward violently by the sudden stop. Same would hold if I hit the dock. Full speed to dead stop tends to do that. The cost would have been tremendous in terms of personal injury and property damage, as everything landed in a heap at the front of the boat.
That leaves the marina. Heading in there would damage a few boats, but the sloping shore might let the ferry grind to a halt. More slowly, and perhaps with much less force than a head on crash.
Time will tell. We don’t know the whole story yet, but it sounds like our good captain made the right decision.