NEWS

Halifax man stranded on ferry hopes to ring in 2012 in Newfoundland with a kiss

12/30/2011 12:08 EST | Updated 02/29/2012 05:12 EST
NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. - All Steven Heisler wanted to do was sail to Newfoundland and count down to 2012 with his girlfriend on New Year's Eve.

But after nearly two days on a ferry, the only thing the Halifax man was counting on Friday were the hours he and other passengers were stranded at the dock in North Sydney, N.S.

Marine Atlantic said rough seas and high winds were to blame for delaying its ferries since Wednesday, including ones scheduled to depart Port aux Basques, N.L.

The ferry finally left North Sydney on Friday afternoon, said a relieved Heisler. Other ferries were expected to begin their journeys by early Saturday morning.

Heisler, 28, had hoped to arrive on Newfoundland's west coast on Thursday morning before making the 2 1/2-hour drive to Stephenville in plenty of time to ring in the new year.

He knew there was a delay even before he stepped aboard the Blue Puttees for an overnight crossing on Wednesday, but figured the ferry would be on its way once the weather improved in Cape Breton.

"I remember waking up and seeing that the rain and wind had stopped and thinking, 'Oh good, we'll get on the go before morning,'" a laughing Heisler said in a phone interview.

But his hopes were soon dashed when an announcement over the ferry's PA system said their departure would be delayed again because of poor weather in Port aux Basques.

More ominous updates followed. New departure times came and went.

"You sort of just say, 'Oh well, I'm glad I brought two books and a bunch of DVDs and my laptop,'" said Heisler.

A snow squall warning was in effect for coastal areas of western Newfoundland and Environment Canada was forecasting winds gusting between 50 to 80 kilometres an hour.

Heisler said the lengthy delay was frustrating, but added that he understands no one can control the weather. Other passengers also appeared to be taking the delay in stride, he said.

"It's no one's fault. It's sort of a fact of living here and travelling to Newfoundland. Sometimes the weather gets in the way," said Heisler, an actor and educational program assistant at a junior high school.

"It will really all be worth it if I'm there on New Year's Eve to give Kaitlyn a kiss."

He said Marine Atlantic did the best it could by providing free meals and shuttles for passengers who wanted to disembark for a few hours and explore North Sydney.

Heisler kept himself busy watching movies and reading, and keeping loved ones up-to-date on Facebook. He hadn't thought of booking a cabin for the seven-hour crossing, but managed to snag a seat next to an electrical outlet to keep his cellphone and laptop charged.

After spending more than 40 hours docked in North Sydney, Heisler's vacation was bound to be a short one — he and his girlfriend have booked tickets on a Marine Atlantic ferry to Nova Scotia on Monday.

Heisler said he's prepared for that next crossing.

"I already have my name on a waiting list for a room."

— By Melanie Patten in Halifax

MORE:cpNews