Last fall my daughter, The Smurf, and I flew out to Alberta to help my son and his wife drive across Canada and back to Ontario. It was a great trip but our very last day became an amazing adventure and somewhat scary.

Let me explain.

We all decided we wanted to take the Chichimon from Port Baymouth to Tobermory. The ferry ride is about 2 hours in length and the Lake Huron crossing from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory saves a lot of white-knuckle rock-cut driving through Northern Ontario.

This would be our touristy- last kick at the cat. We had driven by so many interesting places but didn’t have time to stop. Many suggested that the drive through Sudbury really wasn’t that bad but, we were determined to take the nautical route.

I actually received a text from my nephew, Justin , saying, “Maybe you’d better take the road route because it’s going to be windy and the ferry might be closed.”

He was worrying about us from a great distance. The only problem was that I got that message just as we were pulling out of port.


As the ship pulled out, we were in the shelter of some islands so all was calm, cool and collected. Indeed, the cafeteria opened and a huge line formed to purchase greasy-spoon type dishes and the like. Mounds of fries and poutine were being consumed at an alarming rate. Bellies were being filled to the max and all of this washed down with soda and strong coffee.

So what happened was our little touristy side trip turned out to be much like a ride on the Edmond Fitzgerald or the Titanic. Once out of the protection of those islands, all hell broke loose. Twenty-eight knot winds from the Northeast whipped up waves of mammoth proportions. The weather reports later described this as NEAR GALE FORCE WIND.  That kind of wind can churn up 15 to 20 foots swells, I’m told.

As the rocking turned to barrel rolls, I was beginning to think that the ship’s name was given from a Jamaican expression, as in, “You look like you’re gonna Chi Chi, mon!”  Remember our passenger manifest included those who had wolfed down massive amounts of food and drink and what goes down, must come up, right.

When I was standing in the gift shop I had to scramble to keep by balance; literally running to get my feet to stop.

The trip over open water was incredibly rocky and so the voyage soon produced a, “Puke-nam-ee” of major proportions.

Small children were screaming, and people were lying on the benches or crouched over barf bags. When Matt went to the washroom every stall contained a bowl hugger.

The ferry support staffs were handing out barf bags and cold J-clothes to those that were feeling ill, which was about 90% of the people onboard. Most people’s faces showed the skin colour of a cadaver. This would be a roller coaster ride that would last OVER two hours.

The lady in the gift shop told me this was the worst possible wind direction –North East. The only wind that would be worse would be Southeaster. In that case the ship would be left sitting in port.

While we were holding on in the gift shop a huge banging sound and a bump occurred.  The ship lurched and went up and down and sideways all at the same time. As you might imagine we all went white. I said what was that and the little old lady behind the counter said, “Don’t worry that’s just the huge waves crashing on the side of the ship.”

OMG! Get me off of here.

This was reminiscent of a ride we had a few years ago on the Diamond Princess as we navigated Alaska’s Inland Passage. However, the ferry we were riding now might have fit nicely into one of that cruise ships pools. And, at least on the Diamond Princess, passengers could retreat to their cabins to regurgitate.

Not here, my friends, as the entire scene was in-your-face and up close and personal.


Poor Dolly, the young couple’s dog, was required to remain down in the hold in the truck for the trip. It was 6 degrees and we would have had to stay on deck with her for the voyage. With all that rain and rocking and rolling I think we would have been washed overboard anyway.

Near the end of the trip I felt as if we were in a disaster movie. People were screaming and moaning and had looks of terror in their eyes. That’s about the time they told us to head down to our vehicles because we were heading in to port.

The Smurf was feeling sick and now that we were sitting in the car, she felt claustrophobic. You could still feel the ship rolling, the cars were moving, despite their E-brakes being engaged and the banging and crashing sounds were echoing all around us.

She said to me, “I gotta get out of here, dad!”

The panic in her eyes and the fear her voice had anxiety attack written all over it.

I was hoping my daughter wasn’t just like my wife. You see, a few years back the good wife jumped to the dock from a dinner cruise ship before it had landed. It was a broad jump of mammoth proportions. Indeed, I guy at a table near me said, “Wow, did you see that broad jump?”

And, by the way, her last words to me that day were, “I gotta get out of here, Grumpy!”

In the end, we disembarked in Tobermory in hurricane force winds. Nevertheless, we all came out of this experience unscathed. We did sit in our vehicles for about 45 minutes after disembarking. Many others I fear were dis-em-BARFING on a regular basis.

Some of you might feel I used dramatic license in writing this little piece. Well, if you click the link below, you too can experience the “Puke-nam-ee” and feel like you’re are about to, “Chi-Chi, mon!”

Call it reality BLOGGING, if you will. LOL




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