Written by TN Blogger Helga
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not a big fan of boats. My personal philosophy is to stay as far away from them as possible (totally logical for me to move to an island, right?) Last time my grandma came visiting us from Germany, my mum and I decided to take her on the MV Frances Barkley for her birthday present
We had to be in Port Alberni for 7:30am, which made this an early start to the day. So one Starbucks drive-through and approximately 1:15h drive later, we made it to the Lady Rose Marine Services Building to check in. (*Reservations are recommended and free parking is available around the corner from the pier)
It takes about 4.5 hours for the Captain to navigate the Frances Barkley through the narrow Alberni Inlet all the way to Bamfield. The scenery is amazing, even if the weather is not picture perfect. We stopped counting all the different bays and beaches after a while, because there are so many. The caption will also point out some highlights along the way like eagle nests or mills, etc. What is really neat to see is that the Frances Barkley is an active Packet Freighter, meaning that on any given trip they will be delivering everything from mail to building supplies along the way.
I get seasick really easily (hence my dislike of boats), so I dreaded being on a boat all day, but the inlet is so narrow for most of the way that you don’t really feel like you’re on the open water. The inlet opens up just before you hit the west coast of the island, and you have views to the horizon.
We had about an hour to explore the town before the ship made its way back towards Port Alberni. We stopped into the corner store right next to the pier and had a lovely chat with the store owner, grabbed an ice cream and wandered along the boardwalk. Both my mum and grandma are both garden fanatics, so they were in heaven when the walkway took us past all the different houses and gardens, with huge Fuchsias and great garden designs (as you can tell, I’m not too into gardens). My mum exchanged a book in the free community library before we headed back to the Frances Barkley. We only did a day trip, but this service runs every second day throughout the year, so next time we might spend some more time in Bamfield and take a later ship back.
We arrived back at around 5pm in Port Alberni and decided to grab some dinner before we made the way back to Nanaimo. A local recommended to try Bare Bones Fish and Chips, and it did not disappoint. The restaurant is located in an old church and still has the old stained glass windows and just all together a great atmosphere. The food was great and our server fantastic which made it a perfect end to this adventure.
Til next time,