In better times, the story of Coastal Link Ferries was not unlike the old television program The Beachcombers. The passenger ferry service featured colourful characters, a plucky boat and a picturesque B.C. coastline backdrop.

But times have changed.

Nowadays, Coastal Link’s story reads like a Joseph Conrad novel — a turmoil-fuelled nautical nightmare.

The company’s winter of discontent actually started during the fall on a blustery November day when the Coastal Runner vessel hit rough waters.

According to Peter Green, who was tasked with the unenviable job of public relations for the company, a ferocious wave launched a passenger into the air. He suffered a fractured spine as a result.

Disastrous PR and a lawsuit followed. But the company’s voyage into the heart of darkness didn’t end there.

There were tensions with TransLink. Coastal Link wanted to park its vessel at Waterfront Station’s SeaBus terminal. TransLink, however, didn’t want to make a deal for its downtown dock.

So the service relocated to Harbour Green Dock in Coal Harbour. There, it faced the wrath of neighbourhood NIMBYs.

All the while competition was intensifying. BC Ferries dropped the fares on its Bowen Island-to-Horseshoe Bay sailing. And rival Granville Island Water Taxi was vying for the same passengers.

In January, the company endured another blow when Green and Capt. Ihab Shaker, Coastal Link’s owner, parted ways on bitter terms. What a shame. Our region needs gutsy entrepreneurs like Shaker to be successful.

In the end, it’s not only Coastal Link that loses. We all do.

– Derek Moscato is a writer with a focus on urban issues, transportation, architecture
and economics;