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Mutiny on the Ferry

Mutiny on the Ferry

Picture by Rafel Miro

Well, we all know what it is like. You’ve had a busy day being a very important captain of a not too important ship. You’ve had an early start and only eaten a dry cheese and pickle sandwich for lunch. You are hot and tired, and you can feel a headache coming on. What’s more, you just can’t wait to get home to the dog, or the wife… How about skipping part of the journey and hopping along to another destination port instead? That would be a very sensible idea, which would make life so much easier. You would arrive home much earlier and maybe the passengers, who are so tanked up with cheap booze anyway, won’t even notice. After all, this is the Canary Islands, and it would be hard to be more chilled out. Maybe, but possibly think again.

The island ferry was on one of its regular sailings from the island of Fuerteventura to Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria. The service is never particularly exciting; it is just one of the many standard ferry journeys to facilitate the connections between the seven Canary Islands. The ferry had already been delayed for some time, and the passengers were not pleased at its late departure from Fuerteventura and its even later arrival in Gran Canaria. The last straw came when an announcement over the ferry’s public address system indicated that the ferry would dock at the port of Agaete instead, and not Las Palmas as timetabled, making it a much longer journey, which would mean further delays and inconvenience for the passengers on board. Do passengers matter that much anyway? The captain made a decision; he would not stop at the planned destination, but travel on to Agaete. Wouldn’t the company be pleased with him?

The passengers were not happy when they heard the news. Indeed, it quickly became clear that they were having none of it and, after a brief meeting, angrily decided that they would stage a protest and insist that the ship’s captain think again and stick to the original destination. Seeing the numbers of angry passengers on board, the captain, wisely, reconsidered his earlier decision and decided to head for the port of Las Palmas as originally scheduled. A wise man indeed.

Apparently, the planned switch to Agaete had nothing to do with poor weather conditions or safety issues, but was merely to address the issue that one of the company’s other ferries was not in service, and it suited the interests and economics of the company to use the Fuerteventura ferry to fulfil its scheduled service to Tenerife. The passengers won the day and disembarked in Las Palmas as originally planned. Victory for the travellers and common sense prevailed.

So there we have it. The captain, as well as the shipping company learned a valuable lesson, and, for once, passengers reigned supreme. If you just happen to be a captain of a ship, a bus driver or a pilot, never be tempted to switch to another route just because you happen to have changed your mind or you need to be at a party. It is best to stick to the original route, otherwise you may have a mutiny on board.


Barrie Mahoney was a head teacher and school inspector in the UK, as well as a reporter in Spain, before moving to the Canary Islands to launch and edit a new English language newspaper.