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Travels of a Trucker Make Reservations!

November 25, 2011

To Reserve Or Not To Reserve

Reservations, it’s a word that we often forget as truck drivers because we seldom take care of it ourselves. Usually we allow or the our dispatchers have made a reservation for us. But, it’s a word that means a lot. Imagine taking your girlfriend or wife to a nice romantic restaurant and the maitre’d asks if you have reservations and you say no. Imagine how embarrassing the feeling when you have to leave looking for another place to go. Well there are more than just restaurants which require or it is safer to make a reservation. Take for example the Ferries. Without a reservation you could be S.O.L. waiting for a ferry. In this story, it almost happened to me.

The Load

I had a load to a place called Crofton, BC. It was an emergency load and the usual company that takes care of this company could not take care of them so they asked my company to do it. It was a load of ¾” Pebble Lime also known as Hi-Cal Quicklime. It had to go to an internationally known company called Catalyst who reduce used and read paper like newsprint and glossy magazines back into pulp for reprocessing. They do this through a series of what they term “baths” which include using very strong acidic agents in large circular vats or ponds which are enclosed. The lime is used for heating in their Kilns. What they do with it, I wouldn’t know. Hey I’m a trucker not an Engineer 🙂

A heating Kiln Super Hot!

I had to load at a company called Lhoist North America which produces Lime through a cooking refining process where the material is cooked a very high temperatures removing the moisture content. The load was 40 metric tonnes which would be housed in 2 trailers over 4 compartments. I had what is called in Canada a set of Super “B”’s or “B” Trains. The payload capacity of these trains is typically 42 tonne or 90,000 pounds. My loading pattern was 10t x4.

The First Ferry Crossing

I left my yard at 11:30 am reaching the shipper and finishing my loading process by 1pm. I set off for the ferry located in Tswassen which is a part of Ladner/Delta. I reached the ferry terminal and it wasn’t busy at all so I was able to make the 3:30 ferry headed to Nanaimo`s Duke Point ferry terminal which is a 2 hour crossing going in a North Westerly direction to Vancouver Island. I reached Duke Point at around 5:30 and took off for Crofton which is just slightly South of Nanaimo. I had to turn off the main highway and drive up to the plant.

The Plant

Reaching the plant by 6:15 I checked in with security and because it was my first time there as we were not the regular delivering company I had to undergo the tests which they require. `Contractor, Safety and Trucker’s tests which ate up the better part of almost an hour. By 7:30 pm I was signed off to go into the plant and deliver my load. Except I had to be escorted by a worker. I assumed this worker had a work vehicle which plants normally provide workers when they are large. Well this one didn`t and I had to give my escort a ride. So a turn here, a turn there and they had already described to me my route saying that most drivers tend to split the trains up. Well I walked the route, looked at the corners and I knew they were going to be tight. Very tight!

I had to make 3 of these super tight turns with a set of double trailers

I had probably inches to spare. I had 3 corners to make which were severely taxing on my nerves but got it through with the help of my escort. I actually thought I had bit off more than I could chew and would have been embarrassed if I had to split them in the corner. Well by 8pm I was starting my unload. It wasn`t going very well since the Lime was like chalk and dust. They were not impressed and had to do a test to determine if the product was suitable quality and grade to be accepted. Well the product was okay with probably just passing grade so I began to offload. The one thing about unloading Lime is that because it is heavy and drops it can also build up real quick in the lines. Compounded with a floury substance or chalky dust and it can lead to a recipe for disaster. There is nothing worse than having to clear a line with the help of a receiver saying you’ve blocked it up. Been there done that and that is a story for another article. Anyways, my unloading pressure was crap. It was running either too low which takes too long or too high which can block up real quick. By the end of my unload time I had lost an hour off the time it typically takes me to unload. I started at 8pm and finished at 12am.

This is the lead trailer of the 2 I have on.

watch out for my friend!

Me and my Pal!

Returning Home

After signing out of Catalyst I had to go and eat so I stopped at McDonald`s grabbed a bite and headed off. A few kilometers down the road I went to a rest area, ate and slept. By morning time I was groggy and it was already 8am. So off I went to the Ferry to catch my ride back.

This was my awesome view for 10 hours!

I arrived at the Ferry terminal slightly before 8:30 and saw the ferry had already left. So I waited for the 10:15am. Well an hour before the 10:15am it was cancelled due to a high wind warning that wasnt a warning anymore it was occurring. Gusts of up to 100 kilometers an hour. So there I sat. I had already paid my way with a ferry card supplied by the company. 10:15 rolled around. No ferry. 12:45 rolled by no ferry. 3:15 rolls through no ferry. By this time all the bookings were full. Either through reservation or people waiting. When I had arrived at 8:30am, I was the only truck there. By 5:45 there was a definitive sailing wait. I had no reservation and the way BC Ferries works is they take the reservations first. I was a little antsy and asked the Terminal Crew who advised most likely I would not get on the this trip and boy was I even more depressed. Having sat there since 8:30 I was more than edgy. Well many trucks later, I was getting the go signal then the stop and wait signal from the loading crew who were packing it as tight as they could like Sardine cans. Finally I got the ok and I was headed to the boat. But wait. As I get near the boat I am told to pull over L well the truck behind me and the 5 ton behind me got to continue on. So as I go behind them I can see what they are doing. They want me to drive up the middle and I can clearly see it`s a tight fit. So I inch along with only a couple of inches on either side of my mirrors to spare. As I get my mirrors through I can see about 4 inches of clearance on either side of me. But I was on!!!

inches to spare!!

So overjoyed at going home to shower and eat a decent meal. However, the moral of this story…the next time you have to travel somewhere that requires or you think may need a reservation. Make sure you do it! Anything can happen which in this case was a weather delay. This forced many to cancel their plans or like me had to wait to see if they also had a “glimmer” of hope. Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my blogs, please sign up for the latest ones or use Google connect!



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  1. Tracy permalink

    There is nothing worse than sitting at a ferry terminal for hours on end. Except sitting at a ferry terminal with a young child. Thankful you didn’t have your little helper that day.

    • Yes, if I had him along, I would be cash broke and my hair would be pulled out he would have been so bored. Thankfully it was a school day and he couldn’t come with me. I try not to take him too often. I don;t want him growing up with this lifestyle so I really limit the number of trips I take him on. I would rather see him in the office as a lawyer, doctor or dentist 🙂
      Thanks for reading.

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