Ferry Folks, July 2019

Live too large in retirement and your options become stay home or go back to work.

Luckily, I have two homes and one is in Deep Bay, Fogo Island and there are many job opportunities on Fogo Island.

I was approached in February by Bangbelly Cafe owners Ian Sheridan and Caitlyn Terry wondering if I might be interested in joining their team for the summer.

My immediate answer was yes, knowing their outstanding product and knowing it would be something I could happily stand behind but we’d have to talk when I got back from my trip to London.

Stay home was never a serious option for me….

Through some jigs and reels, we exchanged some messages, I sent a proper resume and eventually we had ‘the talk’. I told them I wanted full time work and a tip option. I’m not working because I am bored.

Don’t tell them, but Leo and I had already chatted it out and while I’d be able to do cafe service too, we both saw me as the coffee chick on the ferry if that was an option.

And it was!

So here I am, (Actually, this draft is being written on the first leg of flights to Australia, had to ask for two weeks holidays during my interview….stay home still not an option) Coffee Chick, one of three, plus our new Coffee Dude, in the Bannikin Canteen on the MV Veteran!

Like the tourists coming off Fogo Island, I feel a need to talk about the people.

The Islanders

I too often call it the Fogo Island Ferry because that is my usual destination but most of the year, the Veteran serves both Fogo and Change Islands.

People I know from the islands (and more who seem to know me) have been welcoming and encouraging in my new adventure. They are excited we have provided a full day coffee and snack service for the spring and summer and many know my love of making sure visitors are well informed before they reach their island destination.

I can’t help myself.

These islands are beautiful and offer something for everyone. Craft shops, restaurants, museums, hiking trails and I even know the playgrounds for families with little ones.

We even do caribou warnings.

I’ve met some new local folks already. Barry, delivering the mail every day, Frank, who invites me over when the coffee rush is over to ask me to tell stories to tourists he’s met and Deb who recently moved to Change Islands.

Business owners on the island are thanking me for referrals. I was always referring them. I can just do it 5 days a week now.

Thank you, islanders, for being our regular customers on the boat and in the cafe. Thank you for your words of encouragement, patience when we make so many pots of coffee that we have to wait a few minutes for the next brew and help with giving directions to visitors.

Oh, and for digging in your pockets when we run out of $5 and $10, too.

Visitors

They come from all over! Already we are seeing lots of people staying in established accomodations, Airbnbs, camping and, of course, Inn guests.

Besides many stays at the Inn, we personally have paid and stayed in a number of tourist rentals on Fogo Island and also at Seven Oakes on Change Islands, so I can often give directions and suggestions.

The Tourist Information center is open in Stag Harbour so I explain how to find it. Hopefully one day there’ll be a sign on the ferry and at Farewell but when I get time, I try to help folks know it’s there.

Bangbelly has done their own map for us to use too because our hours extend beyond the Tourist Info. Thanks for seeing the need and meeting it Caitlyn!

Many visitors are day trippers, often returning to Twillingate for the night. I usually advise them to drive all the way to Tilting or Fogo and gradually work their way back to the boat. Many don’t get up early enough to catch the first trip so only arrive on the island after noon. This limits what they can do.

The best informed day trippers have booked Fogo Island Bus Tours and avoid having to lose an hour being in line early to take a car across. These folks walk on early, coming and going and in our chats they give rave reviews to the experience offered by booking the driver and tour. If you only have one day, this is an amazing way to do it.

Many visitors speak French and it is great for me to get a chance to continue to try to perfect my second language. Many, if their English is not fluent, appreciate having directions and coffee service in French.

Few French speaking visitors have heard of the Fogo Island Inn or our region’s response on 9/11 when 38 planes landed in Gander.

Of the English speaking visitors who know of the Inn, most only know the price of a night. Even some who have lunch, dinner or overnight reservations don’t realize the number of jobs created directly or indirectly by the Inn. Mine for instance is a spin off from an Inn chef deciding to open Bangbelly as are the jobs at Scoff.

The day trippers often don’t know about the various places to stay on Fogo Island and Change Islands.

My new talk starts with the newly opened Punt Premises.

I explain that the punt is the beautiful wooden boat built here. Some, if they visited the Wooden Boat Museum in Twillingate, know this. I tell them about the 180 year old house and the wharves and fishing structures restored over the past two years in Joe Batts Arm.

I have it written, with an arrow, on the dated map provided by the town and explain it just opened to the public this spring and that it is one of many ways the proceeds of the Shorefast Foundation and Fogo Island Inn are reinvested in our heritage and economy.

Many are shocked that the Inn is not a private enterprise and I even had one woman argue with me about that. She lost.

Just as there are accomodations for every taste, we have an expanding choice of places to eat and varying menus. Initially I was suggesting crab when folks came looking for lobster but now I have some lobster fishermen’s numbers too.

Some folks are quilters, some hikers, some just come for lunch or a tour of the Inn. I give them lots of options and the restaurant and craft shop owners know they are getting ferry folk.

I have met a few folks who tell me they will just ‘show up’ at the Inn when I offer them the phone number to reserve a tour or meal. Takes all kinds, I guess.

The fun thing is when these same folks are leaving Fogo Island and are all excited to tell me that my tips were good.

The three ladies from Germany who stayed in Tilting Harbour B and B and my new friend LeeAnn who named dropped me all over the island and now has both her second and third trips booked. The man from Taiwan who even went to the Gander Bread Box and Cafe talking about me.

This week two different couples came around the corner, calling me by name and telling me how much fun they had.

We only get limited time to interact when the food services are done, but it seems helpful and appreciated.

The Crew

There are actually a few crews.

Ferry crews and our Bannikin Canteen crew.

Gradually we negotiate and re-negotiate how and when we stock the canteen without impacting the ferry schedule. We work with and around each other. When the ferry crew sweeps, I try to sweep and when they mop, we try to mop our way out. With the two boat schedule we get a bit more time to do our stocking and organizing some days.

Captains and crew have been great to understand our needs to get stock aboard as we start shifts and we are all realizing just how hard each other works when there’s no passengers aboard to see us.

This Bannikin crew is great.

Most of us are new to the boat but enjoying the busy pace and variety of products and people in the run of a week.

Amazing coffee and baking from Bangbelly Cafeand their flexibilty in trying to meet our expanding needs makes us feel a part of a much bigger crew.

Supportive co-workers who plan ahead, jump in when needed and cheer each other on makes for a successful enterprise. I work for and with good folks.

I just have to remember to sell some coffee too.

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