The Nov. 29, 2010 edition of the Gulf News covered the resignation and legacy of Premier Danny Williams, and Codroy Valley residents’ concerns over the closure of the Searston Gut Bridge. In Burgeo mineral exploration to find copper and nickel was still ongoing, and Margaree was still selling out its dinner theatre five years after its launch. Rose Blanche had gotten a new fire truck, and at the Isle aux Morts 50-Plus Club seniors were getting fit with the Wii. And after over two decades, the MV Caribou bid adieu to Port aux Basques and sailed off into the sunset.
Bon voyage, Caribou!
Dependable. Reliable. Outstanding. The Cadillac. A good old girl. A smooth sailor. These were only some of the adjectives crew used to describe the MV Caribou.
“It’s like a divorce that I just don’t want to face, but it’s coming,” said Reg Leamon.
Mr. Leamon, who works as a deckhand, has been on the Caribou for 17 years. His time on the vessel came to an end last week. The ship that’s been in service for nearly 25 years made its final voyage from Port aux Basques to North Sydney on Nov 26.
“I’ve been here quite a few years because I like the ship,” said Mr. Leamon.
But it’s not all about the boat. It’s about the memories.
“Meeting Willie Nelson,” said Mr. Leamon about one of his fondest memories. “I also met Stompin’ Tom Connors – he travelled on the Caribou.”
For crew who’ve spent time sailing between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, relationships they’ve forged also weigh a lot.
“We’re more like a family away from home, so anything that goes wrong with them also goes wrong with us because it’s close knit,” said Sean Lane.
Mr. Lane is no stranger to the Caribou. He said he’s been on the ship since she began sailing. As a cook, Mr. Lane is responsible for keeping passengers and crew well fed.
He said his fondest memory is working with those he’s been with for 30 years.
One is Pearl Hounsell.
She stood by the reception desk on deck five. She too knows all about life on the Caribou and was pleased to share. Originally from LaPoile and now living in Pasadena, Mrs. Hounsell boarded the Caribou in 1986.
She works as an assistant steward, which means she’s part of the passenger services department. In the summer she works in the bar. She said she likes being around people.
“That’s why I’ve got the gift of the gab,” she added.
Mrs. Hounsell thinks fondly of some of her earlier years on the boat. Back then, she was a seasonal employee and didn’t see her friends from the ship all winter. She said she looked forward to returning in the summer.
“There’d be four of us staying in a room upstairs, and everyone would be there with their stories,” she said. “We’d stay up talking.”
As she talked about life on the Caribou, Mrs. Hounsell’s eyes got misty. Crewmembers stood by her side reminiscing.
Although each of the crew is fond of the Caribou and life on the ship, they know she can’t sail forever.
“I’m sad she’s going, but we’ve got to move on,” said Mr. Leamon. “She did her duty.”
From the Vault is a look back through The Gulf News on items of interest. There will be some stories with news value, some will tell the stories of the people who have shaped the communities along the southwest coast, and some will be from the sports world, but all will have appeared in The Gulf News since its first inception as The Echo in 1967.