Dear Elly G,
The biggest reason A and I went north last weekend was the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun. Ojibwa for Big Canoe, the ship is the only way to get from Tobermory, which is a town at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, to the island of Manitoulin. We didn’t know anything much about it other than its prow being heavily decorated with colourful Native American art, and an advertised relaxing view. (Most of this research was done via quick, cursory glances at ads on the subway; pretty boat, Adirondack chairs, white people in shorts holding beer? Advertising works!)
We stayed at the Grand View in Tobermory, which as promised, had a grand view of Little Tub harbour and the place the Chi-Cheemaun docks at. Our room had a good view of the docks, and I was suitably impressed when the ship arrived (“It’s huge…”) but not as impressed as I was when its prow opened wide like a patient at the dentist. I did not expect that at all. Note that my experience with ships has been limited to George & Peter lines, Cokaliong, the pumpboats of Sibulan and two protracted Superferry trips, so I am easily impressed. Lowered expectations: making people happy since the Dark Ages!
Anyway, I had no idea the Chi-Cheemaun would open that way. I thought it would take on the cargo through its side or thorough its rear (the stern, aren’t I nautical right now?), its butt bumping against the dock every so often. But no, this was so smooth, so easy, and the cars and RVs just started rolling out of its belly like an Autobot throwing up in the best possible way. Just a really elegant display of bulimia. The piece de resistance was when a ten ton tractor trailer just rolled nonchalantly out. Like it was nothing! A wondered aloud at the actual size of the Chi-Cheemaun. The next morning, we learned it holds 143 vehicles and over 600 passengers.
To be continued,