Tourists stranded


About 150 tourists and pheasant hunters were stranded on Pelee Island Sunday afternoon after the ferry ceased operating because of strong winds.

The last ferry to Leamington left at noon Saturday and won’t resume operating until Monday afternoon, weather permitting, said an employee with Pelee Island Transportation Service.

The ferry stopped because of the danger when it tries to dock in high winds. According to Environment Canada, winds around the island were clocked at 45 km/h. The weather forecast had the winds blowing at 40 km/h Sunday morning, but were supposed to wane to 25 km/h by the afternoon.

There were about 400 pheasant hunters on the island during the week, but most left on Friday when they were warned bad weather was headed toward the island, said Jason Culp, who is from St. Catharine’s. He considered himself “delayed” and not stranded, he said.

This is Culp’s third visit to the island and each time he hasn’t been able to leave when he planned. In 2003, he got bumped from the ferry to accommodate grain trucks. Last year, he was a day late going home because weather stalled the ferry service.

“Everyone thought I was crazy for coming here,” said Culp who was hunting with his uncle, Rob Culp.

“This year we were prepared,” said Rob Culp, who is from Dunnville, Ont. “We brought extra food. What can you do?”

Randy Miller, 51, came to the island for a vacation with six other family members.

“It’s a good spot here,” Miller said. “Everyone is friendly. There’s lots to do. Everyone is being looked after.”

Darith Smith was serving about a dozen customers at the Westview Tavern and Motel around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s no big deal,” she said of the guests staying an extra couple of days. “There’s no drama. It’s not like it’s a breakdown. It’s Mother Nature. Everyone is taking it in stride. I’m sure they’d rather be home than stuck here.”

Culp, who was supposed to leave Saturday after three days on the island, said there’s no reason to get upset.

“There isn’t a whole lot you can do,” he said. “You can get mad, but it won’t make the ferry come. We’re going to have some coffee, talk to people, maybe go for a walk, just relax.”