The ferry that wasn’t a ferry. 

“Hi, welcome to Seastreak. Do you have a reservation?”  

“Yes, we’re on the 2 PM to Martha’s Vineyard.”

“Okay, parking is down the street for $13 a day, or we can valet it for $25 a day.”

“We were planning to take our car…”

“We don’t take cars, sir. You need to go to the Steamship Authority up in Woods Hole for that.”

My sinking heart was met by my rising stomach, as that familiar rushing feeling started in my face, neck, and chest. Something was terribly wrong with this situation. This wasn’t a ferry. Ferries are boats that transport cars and trucks. This was an overpriced boat offering rides to passengers to the island.  Not a ferry.

She repeated the bit about Woods Hole after I didn’t respond. Then she offered that we really don’t need a car on the Vineyard, lots of bikes and public transportation. All well and good, but we had a load of shit in the way-back of the Volvo.

There would be no refund, but our prepaid reservation would be good for a year.

I was not concerned in the least about the money, though I probably should’ve been more concerned about losing $120 on tickets that we will never use. I was concerned that there would be no chance of us getting a reservation on the car ferry and that we’d be lucky to get to our vacation spot after two solid days in the car.

And I was right, the website confirmed that there were no available reservations until the next day.

We needed lunch, desperately, and had passed a restaurant on the way to this ferry that’s not a ferry. So we headed for it. The parking lot was a disaster, of course, and I nearly lost it trying to find a place to park the car.

The car.

The car was a gift from Mrs. TKD’s father. A twelve year old Volvo XC70 with 213K miles on it that had been nothing but trouble for my father in law. Why on earth was I driving this to Martha’s Vineyard? Well, it rides a lot nicer than either Subaru and it’s got very comfortable seats. It survived Mrs. TKD’s trip to Cooperstown. So, I figured what the hell.

Mid-way through our first leg of this journey the “Check Engine” light came on. The fluids were good. The car was driving fine. So we continued. Besides it was 8:30 PM, we weren’t going to find a mechanic anyway. It made it the 90 miles that we had left with no problems.

Mrs. TKD googled “Volvo xc70 check engine light” and found that the most common cause is a failing or improperly tightened gas cap. Visual inspection of the 12 year old gas cap revealed a failing gasket. Since our reservation for the ferry that was not actually a ferry was for 2 PM and since we had a 4 hour drive, I knew we needed to get to the bottom of the light first thing in the morning. So I’d been to Autozone to purchase a new fuel cap at 7:30. It did not immediately seem to have any effect on the light.

Fortunately, Mrs. TKD’s dad’s mechanic opened at 8:00. We headed there and explained the situation. They checked the codes and confirmed that it was infact the gas cap that had triggered the light. They reset the code. No charge.

So, back to this parking lot and the restaurant.

I haven’t felt a compulsion to have a drink as strongly as the moment I walked in that door since I quit drinking. Every cell in my body screamed, “give me the booze!”

I was furious, — with my wife and also with myself. When she asked me to reserve this ferry that is not a ferry, I had some concerns about it because all I’d ever heard of was the Steamship Authority ferry. But I took her word for it and reserved anyway without doing my research. I should have verified.

I was also anxious. All the stars seemed to be aligning against me. Maybe we should have gone to the Outerbanks like Mrs. TKD had suggested back in April.  

As I sat there sullenly, Mrs. TKD made a reservation for the next day and we started making our way to Woods Hole. I read from some 12 step literature. The reading in Daily Reflections was particularly helpful.

We reacted more strongly to frustrations than normal people. 

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 111

Impatience with other people is one of my principal failings.

A little food. The Serenity Prayer. Deep breathing. Acceptance.

I got through the compulsion. I got past the irritation. I didn’t explode outwardly even as I felt like I might inside.


It’s still the same day as it was when we arrived at the wrong boat. I started this post on my phone while in the standby line at Woods Hole. I fully expected to be waiting hours – and if it were peak season, we probably would have – but I’m finishing this post from aboard the ferry and we’ll be landing on the island within a half hour.

Everything worked out. 

My family isn’t mad at me.

I am still sober.

5 thoughts on “The ferry that wasn’t a ferry. 

  1. Woah!! THAT is stressful. Kudos for keeping your “stuff” together and I know you are glad you weren’t then also dealing with the after effects of booze. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

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