Yesterday afternoon I boarded a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, and found a seat on the upper deck in the sunshine. Right behind me was a big poster about ocean creatures. A very cute little 7-year-old boy ran over, bursting with enthusiasm for seals and scuba diving and starfish and everything oceanic. It seemed impossible not to fall instantly in love with him, and so I did. I started talking to his mom, who explained that he watches ocean documentaries every day as part of his nighttime routine. They were from Calgary and so we commiserated about the plight of prairie people who love the ocean. I asked where they were headed and his mom said “Well, I don’t know actually… we were supposed to go to Victoria, but apparently that’s not where this ferry goes, so I’m not sure. We got on the wrong ferry. We might just come back to Vancouver”. Then her son interrupted “actually, We’re going to watch whales!” His mom, said, Well we might if we make it. I’m just not sure”. I felt bad for the kid, given his parents’ navigational confusion, it seemed unlikely that they were going to make it to anywhere they intended to go today. And he’d travelled all the way over the rocky mountains to try to see whales. So I said, “You know, sometimes you can see whales right off the ferry. I’ve seen them before”. The kid’s eyes lit up, ‘Really? What??”. I nodded, “it’s true” and he ran off to the side of the boat to look for whales. His mom chased after him. As I watched him, sticking his head through the gaps in the metal railing, fists clutching it intently, my heart sunk– I realized I’d just become the second adult in one day to raise his hopes of whales sightings without any capacity to deliver actual whales. The odds were not good. Counting the times I’d actually seem whales off a ferry I realized it had happened a grand total of one time over years of ferry rides. A pod of Orcas one New Years day off Salt Spring Island. It was totally magical and special and very rare. Oh well, raising hopes, dashing dreams, sinking into despair…kind of the way things roll these days. I sighed. I went back to my seat. And eventually, so did my friend. And then the Captain came on the loud speaker, “Attention passengers, there’s two humpback whales on the port side of the vessel.” I ran over and we watched in astonishment as two giant whales slapped their tails and blew fountain sprays of water into the air. The mom laughed; “I guess we got on the right ferry after all”.

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