On October 18, 2007 we loaded the kids and the dog into the car and excitedly started out to take ownership of our new vacation home. Having only been to Pelee Island three times and always in good summer weather, we had no idea what lay ahead for us that long weekend. Leaving Burlington to catch the smaller ferry out of Kingsville, the thought of checking marine weather forecasts never crossed our minds. Blissfully driving towards our destination we received a phone call from Pelee Island Transportation, “Could we get there any faster as the winds were picking up and the Captain wanted to leave early?” Wow, we thought, that’s service! Suddenly jolted out of our lighthearted mood and feeling the pressure (the Captain was waiting for us after all) we hit the gas.
“What’s that?!” we thought as we approached the vessel tied to the dock. Having only ever sailed on the larger Jiimaan ferry the sight of the smaller, older Pelee Islander was a shock! We were greeted by a crew anxious to load our car and depart into the now gale force winds.
The Captain skillfully navigated the waves, each one crashing violently against the bow of the boat. Sitting in the small passenger lounge we bounced around all the while keeping a watchful eye on the water which was now seeping into the vessel through the windows and door. It wasn’t long before the constant roller coaster motion and smell of diesel became too much for me and I started to vomit. We sailed like this for approximately an hour, my children terrified, my husband and I too sick to comfort them. At that point, unable to dock, the Captain made the decision to turn around. Returned to the mainland and unable to get to our newly purchased cottage I thought, “My god – what have we done?!” Here we had just purchased this amazing vacation property and we couldn’t even get to it!
We spent the next two nights in a nearby hotel waiting for the 90 km/hour winds to die down so we could make the passage. We did get across eventually and if there’s one thing we’ve learned it is to always check the marine forecast before we head out!
I’ve learned to accept the sometimes inconvenience of owning a place on an island but like I always say about Pelee – if it was easy to get there then everyone would be there – and I’d rather keep it all to myself.