Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A day trip on the Labrador ferry

In early October 2014 I visited Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland for about a week for the purpose of driving around and taking photos of some interesting ferries in these areas. Rarities for us Europeans, specially some which are more remote. The most remote was for sure the APOLLO, built 1970 at Meyer in Papenburg. She was one of the famous Papenburg Sisters, ordered by Viking Line cooperation partners Rederi Ab Slite and Rederi Ab Sally. The APOLLO was the first of the series, and, at the time of writing this blogpost, was still going strong in her service for the Woodward Group company Labrador Marine Inc. between St Barbe on Newfoundland and Blanc-Sablon in Quebec. The ferry berth in Blanc-Sablon is just 2km away from the border to Labrador, which apparently qualifies the service as being called the Labrador Ferry.

But first get to St Barbe! Arriving with the ferry in Port-Aux-Basques, Neufoundland you have a six hour, 563 km ride to get through to get to this remote ferry port.
Highway #430 on the west coast of Newfoundland. Endless road, hardly any traffic. But moose on the move!
In the middle of nowhere: turn from Hwy #430 left into St Barbe, Labrador Ferry is signposted.
Eventually, after eight hours of driving and decent rests, I arrived at St Barbe, where the sun was shining gloriously.
The unpretentious ferry terminal in St. Barbe, located in the premises of the Dockside Motel. It is here where I purchased my ticket for the outbound journey.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, you'd better know your limits!
What a moment! APOLLO slowly approaching St. Barbe in the morning of 7 October 2014.
What a moment! APOLLO slowly approaching St. Barbe in the morning of 7 October 2014.

APOLLO has arrived and opened her bow visor.

On the way to Labrador.

On the way to Labrador. The view over the outer decks is somewhat strange with a ferry of this age (built 1970) missing "real" lifeboats after a modernisation in Canada in the earlier 2000s.

A sitting lounge at the aft end of the vessel.

Forward looking dance bar.

Also forward looking, one deck below the dance bar: the buffet restaurant.

The Cafeteria, the only service on board which was open on my crossings.

Another view of the Cafeteria.

The Cafeteria.

The Cafeteria.

The information desk.

Reclining seats.

View of the former perfume and cosmetics shop.

Main staircase. Note the Finnish Beer advertisement in the upper corner of the staircase. Assume there will be only very few passengers understanding what this means... "Maailman parasta olutta" KOFF - "Best beer in the world".

Approaching Quebec and Labrador.
The port of Blanc-Sablon.


Cars queueing in the marshalling area at Blanc-Sablon. Also I had to get off and buy my return ticket at the ticket office in Blanc-Sablon. Only very rarely "day-cruise"-passengers find their way to the APOLLO, which is why such a ticket isn't even available.
APOLLO berthed at Blanc-Sablon.
View into the empty car deck between arrival and departure at Blanc-Sablon.

View of the bridge which is largely in original state, with some more modern computers added.

View of the bridge which is largely in original state, with some more modern computers added.

Arriving back at St. Barbe in Newfoundland in the afternoon.
On the way down to the car deck... more signs of the Finnish history of the APOLLO.

On the way down to the car deck...
more signs of the Finnish history of the APOLLO.

APOLLO discharging in St Barbe


APOLLO berthed again in St. Barbe, loading for another crossing to Blanc-Sablon.

Ferry photographers delight: after a while APOLLO backed out from her berth and turned her bow towards Labrador again.

This view marks the final glimpse after my visit to this highly interesting ferry.
On 29 April 2017 the APOLLO will have been in active service for 47 years. An impressive time-span for such a ferry. When I drove back southwards to Port-Aux-Basques that afternoon/evening, I was in a heavily nostalgic mood, and very very glad to have taken the trip out on her. Who knows whether she will be still around next time I make it there...?
Shortly before sunset at Saint Pauls on Highway #430.

The sun going down over Saint Lawrence Gulf, at Beachy Cove close to Rocky Harbour.


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