In the winter and spring, the ferry makes two trips a week. We left Port Hardy at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, stopped at Bella Bella at 12:30, then at Ocean Falls at 3:30 a.m., and arrived in Prince Rupert at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. On the Lumber boat boat were travelers on holiday from Switzerland, Belgium and Germany along with numerous Canadians who apparently make this run fairly often. We paid extra for a cabin and reserved seats, but still the fare was only $400 Canadian, which included the truck.
As the ship left port we noticed a most peculiar large ship, which we learned was a log carrier for sailing through the protected waters of the inside passage. When it reached its destination, it simply flooded its tanks on one side, the ship listed, and the logs rolled off into the water. Easy.
We met a man who told us a series of things, each one more improbable than the last, beginning quite credibly with the fact that he gave up fishing 9 years ago to work on the ferry as a diesel mechanic. Then he told us about using his fishing boat to tow in derelict logs, using the fact that he lived on the reservation (he didn't look it) to catch lots of fish to give to the elders for the winter, going out with a friend to hunt a family of bears that was too close to the town, and finally teaching his youngest, at five, to use a 22 to shoot moose, and he'd have to skin them too. He would have gone on, but we Waterfalls politely said our good byes. Afterwards we puzzled as to where the truth ended and the fantasy began.
The scenery along the passage is green forest coming down to the shore, with snow at the higher elevations, channels sometimes quite narrow between the islands, water cascading down the sides of the hills into the sea, sea birds and gulls, no marine mammals that we noticed, and absolutely no human habitation (we slept through the two midcoast stops.)
The photographs of the inside passage are always taken when the sun shines, which it occasionally does. It just didn't while we were on this ferry boat. So the combination of cool weather and rain kept us inside most of the trip, where we read and did crossword puzzles and played on the computer. We were bored enough to be happy to get off at Prince Rupert, and glad to find a nice big motel room with four prints of fishing boats on the wall, three of which are identical!