Trains and Boats and Planes

Victoria Harbour–including Ogden Point–is a busy place. During the summer season dozens of cruise ships visit, several a week and sometimes three at once. They’re on their way to or from Alaska.

The regular vessels, though, are the two pilot boats that go out and meet the large freighters travelling through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to and from a Canadian port. The Pacific Pilot 2, shown here with the Wave Venture that also used to be a regular for years, braved all types of weather in its efforts to ensure safe passage of vessels through the Strait. Just last year, it was joined by the more modern Pacific Scout and the Pacific Pilot 1 was retired. The Wave Venture left to work on the University of Victoria’s Neptune Project, helping to lay down the many kilometres of underwater cable that send images and other data from the ocean floor to labs at several universities for analysis.

Going by the tip of the breakwater each day are the MV Coho that connects Victoria to Port Angeles in Washington State, and the Victoria Clipper passenger catamaran that plies the waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Seattle. The Coho is part of the Blackball Line, which makes it sound like a pirate ship and adds a little excitement to the experience. The Clipper travels very fast and the weather in the Strait can make the crossing somewhat bumpy. The Clipper is not without its romance: We know of a couple who actually met several years ago on the Clipper when each was travelling to and from Seattle and Victoria on a regular basis to visit relatives.

Canada’s Pacific Fleet is actually posted in Esquimalt, just around the tip of the peninsula across from Ogden Point to the west, so it’s not uncommon to see some of our naval vessels in the waters.

Many sailboats also pass by, usually on a sunny day with just the right amount of wind. This one with red sails caught our eye, as did this flotilla of small boats being towed by a motorboat.

Finally, you may see something totally unusual such as this oil rig that came by mysteriously one day heading east to who knows where…

The skies over Ogden Point are also busy, with helicopters taking off and landing from the Helijet Terminal almost every hour. Float planes also fly by as they take off and land on the water in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

Oh, and about those trains. The single-car Malahat (formerly known as E&N or Esquimalt and Nanaimo) train leaves Victoria every morning up-island for Courtenay first thing in the morning, and returns about suppertime every evening. It delights in making its presence known by generously sounding its horn as it leaves or arrives at the station in downtown Victoria. It is easily heard from the Ogden Point breakwater. The E&N is the only train to enter Victoria, in contrast to Greater Vancouver, which has both passenger trains and frequent freight train traffic.

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