A BC Ferries vessel and some of its cargo are thawing on the central coast after quite a night at sea.
“It was like something out of the movies,” said deckhand Travis Young of how the sea spray froze directly onto the Nimpkish as it sailed from Bella Bella to Bella Coola on Saturday.
“Waves were freezing all over the boat, it was building and building,” Young told Black Press Media Monday. “When you are training, you take courses and see things about de-icing, but I never thought I’d see it on the central coast.”
According to Environment Canada, the Bella Coola area received temperatures as low as -17.5 C and wind gusts up to 52 kilometres an hour on Saturday. Gusts were up to 81 kilometres an hour the next day.
“It started freezing about three hours out of Bella Bella,” Young said. “We made it to Bella Coola about 1:30 in the morning, which was later than usual. We were fighting a huge headwind on the Dean Channel and going slower than usual.”
The Nimpkish always has a captain, a mate and two deckhands on board with two people on the bridge at all times, Young said.
On Saturday, there were one passenger vehicle and seven passengers, and moving around the boat became increasingly dangerous.
“At one point, there was a foot thick of icy slush on the deck,” Young added. “We’d tell people when we thought it was safe to go to the washroom or tell them to sit down.”
Ice was also forming on the windshield of the bridge. When it was time to dock in Bella Coola, Young and the other deckhand, Todd Nickless, were scraping off the ice so the captain could see.
“The lines were all frozen when we were tying up at the dock too, but we got her done,” Young said.
Originally from Maple Ridge, Young has worked as a deckhand on the Nimpkish for two years. He moved to Bella Coola five years ago, following his brother who had moved there for an affordable lifestyle.
As for his first ice adventure, Young said it was neat to be part of it. “Our highest concern was safety,” he said.
The central coast has seen strong winds in recent days and is still under an Arctic outflow warning.