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  • Writer's pictureJason Weening


Hey dads! Have you ever been stranded on a ferry and your van just won’t start? Ha ha! Didn’t think so.

Well I have.

Our family recently adventured to western Canada all the way to Vancouver Island. Now as the name might suggest Vancouver Island is an island and can only be accessed by air or by water.

We opted for water access as it would be a bit pricey for the 11 of us to fly over.

Our trip to the island on the ferry was relatively uneventful except for the opportunity we had to see a few whales along the way. We saw the sights on the island and headed back the next day catching the 7pm ferry from Nanaimo to the mainland. Everything was going hunky-dory until we reloaded into our giant van to drive off the ferry.

Turn the key.


Try again.


Cars all around us are starting to start and start to move and start to drive off the boat. But not us. We do not start. Dozens of cars beside us and behind us look at us sitting there. Perhaps a morsel of pity stirs through their hearts.

The nice ferry man comes over with his battery booster and asks, “Is your battery dead?” I don’t think it is so I respond, “Nope, I don’t think it’s the battery. I suspect fuel pump.” He wants to try anyways and so we tried boosting it. No luck. By now everyone has left the ferry and it’s just the Weening family and the nice ferry man trying to get the van started. He tells us not to worry this happens all the time every day. He tries boosting it again for about 11 seconds and then radios for back up.

Apparently the ferries have these fancy little luggage-mobiles similar to what you see at the airport. A different nice ferry man drives his luggage-mobile behind me, bumps into the back of my van and one minute later he’s pushed us off the ferry.

Then does the van magically start? Negative. I pull out my wallet and reach out to the trusty

Canadian Tire Auto Club with whom I’ve developed a rather serious relationship with over the past ten years. I arrange a tow as the sun sets romantically off the coast of British Columbia.

So we’ve got the van taken care of and now we need to transport 11 people out of the North Vancouver ferry terminal.  Five of these people need car seats or booster seats so we unload those out of the van. We also unload 11 suitcases, a half dozen sleeping bags, a playpen, a cooler and 11 water bottles. Now our van is taking up a parking spot and beside it a mountain of luggage fills another spot.

We were blessed to have met some new friends in Vancouver a few days earlier and they offer to borrow two vans and drive an hour to come rescue the Ontario refugees. True friends indeed. 

While we waited for tow trucks and borrowed vans I lead the kids in some calisthenics out in the ferry terminal parking lot. I’m sure the hundreds of ferry passengers waiting to load over the next few hours were very intrigued by the pile of car seats and the group of misfits doing jumping jacks in the parking spot beside it at 10:00pm. I’m sure you all understand how I felt, right?

At the end of the day, literally, our friends showed up in the borrowed vans. The tow truck driver came shortly after that and a few days later our journey back to Ontario began. Things don’t always go as planned do they dad? Be encouraged! Keep your chin up! Keep your stick on the ice! Time flies. Make every moment count, even the problematic ones!

You’ve got what it takes.

I’ll have to tell you in the next post about a dad who failed to book a hotel on Vancouver Island and the adventure that ensued after that. Memories were made. New friends were met. Fresh B.C. fruit was eaten.  

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Timothy Fosteman
Timothy Fosteman
May 25

was unload the van immediately a precaution taken against …?

jumping jacks to stay warm was a smart move

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