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Crossing the Gulf of Maine

Not being connected to trustworthy or fast internet has its advantages. We don't hear all the ridiculous political commentary and activities from home. We get to experience our surroundings without distractions and enjoy nature. But, there are obvious disadvantages, too. It takes forever for photos to load when we publish a blog post. We don't always get messages and emails in a timely manner. And, we don't receive updated weather reports. That's why we didn't know about the bad storm off the east coast until the late afternoon before we were scheduled to take the early-morning ferry back to the USA from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Concerned about how our constitutions would fare on a boat during a storm, we decided to stop at a pharmacy near the town where we were spending the night. The pharmacist said that she could prepare for us the same capsules they provide to the seasickness-prone fishermen in their small fishing community. Who could turn down that tried and true remedy? We purchased two doses each and went on our way.

The rain started that evening, so we found place with internet and checked the website for the ferry company to make sure the trip was still a go. It was, so we hunkered down for our last night in Canada at the campground in Shelburne.

It was still raining in the morning, so we headed over to Yarmouth at 6 AM. We took our professional-grade medication for seasickness as directed, an hour before sailing.

Waiting in the rain to go through the first checkpoint for the ferry

Ferry from Nova Scotia to Maine

We were among the first passengers to arrive at the ferry terminal, but ours was the last vehicle the rain-gear clad staff ushered onto the vessel. They squeezed us right up to the car in front of ours and left only a small space between the bikes on the hitch in the back of our RV and the briny drink below. They advised us to engage the parking brake and to leave the doors unlocked before getting out. They claimed the movement of the ferry often sets off car alarms and this was the easiest way to prevent an alarm symphony.

That's when I vividly remembered the scene in Double Jeopardy where Ashley Judd's character drives a car off the edge of a ferry into the water. Surely if you can drive a vehicle off a ferry, then a vehicle can fall off during a bad storm. Especially the tall, heavy vehicle on the end. I grabbed all our electronics, passports and extra cash, and headed upstairs to the passenger area.

All the window seats and sofas were occupied

Obviously, being the last vehicle on board meant that all the good seats (i.e., the sofas and window seats) were taken by the time we got upstairs, so we settled for a table and chairs. With comfortable sleeping spots no longer an option, we figured that we would read and write during the almost seven-hour crossing. I probably should have reconsidered that ambition when I overheard one of the ferry workers tell a colleague, "It's gonna be a rough one today." But I stuck to my plan because I was feeling extra confident in my good-enough-for-a-professional-fisherman medicine for seasickness. About an hour later as the storm intensified, I needed the second dose of it.

Shortly after that, the ferry heaved to one side and items in the duty-free store behind me loudly crashed to the floor. I saw the door to the galley in front of me swinging wildly on its hinges and heard loud gasps all around us. The upheaval caused the captain to announce that no one should leave their seats unless necessary, and then only if they held onto the railings along the corridors. Passengers in various states of intestinal comfort jerkily walked toward the rest rooms as the vessel pitched and heaved over the three to six-foot swells in the Gulf of Maine. Those people were followed by members of the ferry staff who pushed buckets and mops, while other staff offered the seated passengers packets of saltines and cups of ginger ale for their nausea.

Later on, the captain announced that he would be ringing the ship's foghorn every two minutes due to the low visibility. Bars of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald rang in my head, complete with the references to "fellas." I tried to keep one eye on the galley door in case the cook came running out with a spatula in one hand and a PFD in the other. Realizing the futility of that task, I decided to ignore all the commotion and try to sleep.

Hiding under a blanket, hoping to sleep and stave off the nausea

Bruce thought this was hilarious.

Mercifully, the seas calmed down, as did my stomach and my overactive imagination, and the ferry sailed into a beautiful, sunny dock in Portland, Maine! We were grateful for the sunshine, calm seas, and the sight of peaceful sailboats and happy people.

Sunshine greeted us in Maine

We headed back downstairs to the RV and found it in tip-top shape despite all the turbulence of the international crossing. We backed off the ferry (yes, as in reverse!) and were the first people to make it to Customs.

Preparing to back off

We anticipated a swift review at the border since we had dumped out the fridge's veggie drawer at the port in Yarmouth, eaten our fresh wild Nova Scotia blueberries early in the morning, and purchased only refrigerator magnets, designer soaps and some books as gifts. Unfortunately, we had forgotten that there was an apple on one of the shelves in the fridge! Yikes. The customs agent boarded our vehicle, saw the apple on the shelf, and pitched it into a compost bin. His thoroughness in protecting the borders offset my embarrassment somewhat, so I wasn't too shy to ask for directions to the interstate. (Our map wasn't that great and the GPS sometimes sends us in circles in cities.)

The officer's directions turned out to be much better than the way the GPS would have had us go, so we were quickly and without event on our way to visit extended family down in South Dennis, MA on Cape Cod. On terra firma. In our little home on wheels.

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