Transport Canada just issued a directive that affects passengers traveling on BC Ferries. It requires that all passengers have face masks. It doesn’t require that they be worn, just that they have one. On sailings longer than 30 minutes, passengers will be asked to confirm their possession of said mask, and if the answer isn’t “yes,” along with a willingness to use it “when necessary,” boarding will be denied. BC Ferries also recommends that car passengers remain in their vehicles.

Here in Washington, our state-run ferry system also encourages face masks and staying in your car, but nothing is mandated. However, if you’re taking a ferry to any of the San Juan Islands, you’re “required to wear masks/face coverings upon entering or remaining in any business in San Juan County,” according to Orcas Issues: News and Views. 

I don’t know if wearing a face mask while in public is politically fraught in Canada as it is here in the U.S. I doubt it, as Canadians are generally more progressive than Americans. Personally, I think it’s wise to wear protection whenever appropriate, whether it’s a bike helmet or PFDs. I also wear a mask on trips to the recycling center, lumber yard and liquor store.

The coronavirus is spread mostly from others’ respiration; masks go a long way in stopping that spread. So, please, wear a mask on the ferry if you get out of your truck and when you go into the grocery store. You’re not only providing your own barrier, but you’re also helping to prevent infecting old guys like me. We’ve just had a Covid-19 case here in our WorkBoat crew, which required hospitalization and which “kicked my ass,” according to the victim, who is said to be improving and is now back home. We’re all thankful for that.

Stay safe. Wear a mask.

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).