As our family approached the Labrador ferry, we hoped we were not making a terrible mistake. The Strait of Belle Isle, between Newfoundland and Labrador, had unseasonable amounts of ice and the ferry had not been running daily. My husband had to be in Newfoundland for a flight in three days, and ferry traffic was so backed up that reservations were canceled for the foreseeable future. There was a strong chance we would arrive in Labrador and not be able to return. Still, we had our eyes on the prize, and were determined to see Labrador, even if just for a day.
When the line of mostly semi-trucks advanced, we followed until directed to our spot on the Apollo by a fellow in a yellow reflective vest and hardhat. The ferry was split into halves, two lanes on each side. The dirtied vehicles were tightly packed, to accommodate as many as possible. Gathering up our coats, we stepped out onto the damp and rusted car deck; the dank sea air engulfed us.
We ascended the staircase at the middle of the boat to the passenger deck. The gritty old boat was showing her age. The white paint on the walls of the stairwell was peeling away revealing rust, and the maroon carpet was worn through. We made our way to a table in the cafe next to a window. There were few foot passengers, so the boat was quiet and empty. We grabbed some warm drinks and waited for the horn to blow.
With the port of St. Barbe behind us, we ventured to the outside deck. We would have to watch our children closely, the only barrier between the railing with 20 inch gaps was orange construction fencing tied with black zip ties. The white walls of the Apollo contrasted with the occasional red fire extinguisher, orange life preserver, and dark green floors. The ocean was as smooth as glass, the only ripples created by the boat itself.
As the fog thickened, ice began to appear on the water. The icebergs quickly became larger and denser, interlocking like pieces of a puzzle. A horn blew in the distance, followed by the Apollo's horn; we now had an escort.
The icebreaker in front of us carved a path to the port of Blanc-Sablon. When the Apollo safely docked, we were instructed to return to our vehicles. Not knowing when we would be able to return to Newfoundland, we excitedly disembarked the boat for a new adventure.