April 8, 2022
Ferry Facts: Peggy McCann Retires
Above: Peggy McCann in 1998 as Assistant to the Port Engineer.
Our Latest Retiring McCann
It was April 1, so at first when everyone saw Peggy McCann’s desk and area completely emptied, many wondered if it was an April Fool’s joke. Sadly, it wasn’t, as an announcement came out later that day from Port Captain Derek Robinson announcing the quiet retirement of our long-time colleague in marine support and logistics.
Since Peggy was the early bird in the office, on site at 5AM, those filtering in from 6-9 were wondering how this larger than life office filled with everything from inspiring signs to years of collected rubber ducks got emptied in such record time. The secret was in a late Thursday night emptying out of the office that Peggy estimates took a good three hours.“I had been quietly emptying my drawers for weeks,”
Peggy admitted, but she saved all the obvious accessories that let everyone know when Peggy was in residence until the last late night move. When asked why she felt the need to be so quiet about her retirement, she admitted, “It was a very emotional decision. I’ve worked my entire life since I was 14.”
In fact, Peggy’s first job was at the Ferry at age 14 when she worked as an ice cream girl walking from car to car offering cold treats. When people weren’t buying ice cream, she would clean car windows. Working in Food Service under Business Manager Tom Cowan, the team was told to always keep busy. “We never stood still,” she admitted.
Entries from Peggy's scrapbook from age 14.
It would be 22 years before Peggy returned to the Ferry in a very different capacity. After high school graduation, Peggy went on to get her college degree at night and become a paralegal. When a position opened up in 1996 working with Port Engineer Glenn Cox, she jumped at it. Little did she know as part of working here, she’d also reconnect with a childhood acquaintance Captain Rick McCann, and change the direction of her personal life as well.
It was a rare opening, Peggy admitted, and the benefits were a big draw. When Cox rose to become Ferry Operations Director, Peggy went with him, and after he left the Ferry she stayed on providing marine logistics support for ferry crews.
What’s Stayed the Same
After 26 years at the Ferry, we asked her what has changed the most. “Communications,” she answered while also admitting it’s always been a challenge.
“When I started we didn’t have computers, pagers, or cell phones and relied on hand-held radios and paper notes on time cards to communicate,” Peggy noted. Today, with e-mail and cell phones, you’d assume communications is easier, but it’s still a challenge with reception on the Bay.
What has remained steadfast is the strong sense of teamwork among all the crews. “The thing we consistently do best is take care of each other,” she said. It is deeply ingrained in the marine culture. Captain Rick added that the strong team culture stems from deep sea experience when all sailors realize that you need to rely on your brethren if you’re going to get back home safely to land. If someone comes on board with a different experience, it doesn’t take long before they also become acclimated to the culture.
Filling the Billet
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the manual nature of filling the billet – the daily sheets, aka The Bible, that is used to meet USCG regulations on crew staffing.
One of Peggy’s key roles over the years has been maintaining and juggling the daily billet sheets. These sheets show the crew complement for each crossing for 10 specific crew assignments – 1 Captain, 1 Pilot, 4 Abs, 2 Oss, 1 Chief Engineer and 1 Assistant Engineer. When call outs occur, it was generally Peggy’s role to rejuggle the billet to get enough of the right types of personnel on board so we could sail. Sometimes, she’d have less than an hour or half hour in the wee hours of the morning to get people woken up, driven to the terminal and on the boat in time for a scheduled crossing.
“If we had to, we’d get them in in their pajamas and get them uniformed up on the boat,” she laughed. “We can solve anything once they’re on the boat.”
Her secret weapon, however, was frequently family with Captain Rick and now son Luke as people who could sail in various positions if needed and would always take her call. That’s just one of the reasons why when Peggy McCann calls the Ferry home and family, she really means it. “I’ve loved coming to work each day,” she said. “I have a real sense of ownership in the place.”
Now settling into her retirement, Peggy is looking forward to more family time with her two college-aged girls and 5 grandkids from the older McCann boys, more community work, and travel. She’s already known for taking her RV on the boat en route to more southern campgrounds, and is likely to continue those jaunts, perhaps with more extended stays.
And since she’s known for always staying busy, she’s not really stopping work either. Both she and “her” captain are now also owners of an Air BnB in close proximity to the Ferry. The home rents out year-round as the area increasingly becomes more of a 4-season attraction, and keeps both McCanns still operating as tourism ambassadors for local attractions and ferry trips.
Fair Winds and Following Seas
Fair Winds and Following Seas is a maritime term referring to a desire for good winds to always be at your back, and waves going in your desired direction to ensure smooth sailing. Peggy wished that to all on her own retirement message on Facebook, but it’s really our mutual wish for her and her entire crew of Rick, Luke, Joe, Daniel, Victoria and Christina. As someone who has looked out for us for so many years, and worked hard to keep everyone sailing safely, we truly wish her the best of horizons ahead and hope to continue to see her around the Ferry.