Epic fail at the Dinghy Dock Pub

Nathaniel Christopher 13 Comments
Dinghy Dock Pub Protection Island
Dinghy Dock Pub Protection Island

I was in Nanaimo this weekend visiting friends. I had a wonderful time for most of the trip. Unfortunately, I had the worst restaurant experience of my life.  I have this strange phobia of being held somewhere against my will and that’s exactly what happened last night.

SOMEONE decided it’d be a great idea to have dinner at the Dinghy Dock Pub located on Protection Island which is a small Island in Nanaimo’s harbour. There are some houses there, but no stores. Just the Dinghy Dock which claims to be the only floating pub in Canada.

There were a lot of little things that really sucked about this pub, but the fact that we were faced with the possibility of spending the night there really made this the worst dining experience of our lives.

A few months back I convinced my boss to give me this Monday (today) off so I could go to Bellingham to get my social security card in time to do my US taxes. We went to the pub on the 6 p.m. ferry on Sunday night and figured if we got back on the 8 p.m. ferry I’d make my 9 p.m. ferry to Horseshoe Bay on the Mainland.

But at about 7:30 this unpleasant, apathetic waitress lumbered over to our table and lamely told us that they would not be running the 8 p.m. ferry on account of the weather.
“We don’t know when you’ll get out of here…” She said.

“I hope you brought pillows!” Yelled the skipper. I failed to see the humour in that.

I was pissed off. I was going to miss that boat and then I’d miss my ferry. My weekend was fucked. A big task that I needed to do was not going to happen because of the fucking Dinghy Dock.

Yes, they can’t control the weather, but my friend said that if they had any hint of rough seas they shouldn’t have brought us over in the first place.

So, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were stuck there indefinitely. It was awful.

The pub staff made no attempt to improve the situation for us. Scratch that out. The waitress did make an anaemic offer for “coffee or tea or something…” but made no indication as to whether or not it was “on the house.” We thought that a free drink of some kind was in order.

So, we sat there… until about 9 when the skipper felt it was safe to cross the harbour.
We were very glad to get off that wretched pub and we felt like they just wanted to keep us hostage for a few more hours so that we’d spend money on drinks at their establishment.

The only nice thing about that pub were the other customers. When one woman saw that we were snapping photos of each other she offered to take a picture of all four of us. And later on when she saw that we were stranded another woman invited us to join her in a game of cards.

Most importantly, the skipper did a good job braving the rough seas. He got us home safely and even though it was a shitty experience at the pub I feel so grateful that we made it home safely.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.


  1. seriously have you been living in a bubble? what did you miss in school about weather/oceans/tides? I have been there and did not find the food or the service particularly impressive, however a crummy waitress or a lipstick glass can happen anywhere, its your attitude and demeanor that makes all the difference- perhaps her “snotiness” was a reaction to how you were treating her. Waitresses are not whipping posts for your rants and when treated rudely may retreat or feel intimidated, which will definib=nitely impact your level of service.Maybe try a litle honey next time, and see where things take you. Im from Vancouver, born and raised, and the island is all about pace, not city pace, nature pace, no good for “type A” folks who think that someone can or should be in control the waves or the wind for goodness sake I paid 8 whole dollars… ever consider maybe that happened for a reason? when you focus on the little black dot thats all you can see. the pillow comment from the staff was a joke- its the way locals tease “city folk”, and you bought it, which entertained them no doubt:)the fact that you made it out doesn’t surprise me at all, all the staff have to go home too and I’m pretty sure they don’t have cots there. think how disappointing it would have been for that waitress who knows that shes working for minimum wage and her tips are being affected by the bad weather, oh wait that would be empathy. Good thing you were never on a 3 hour cruise in the South Pacific or your plans would have really been shot, lol. you got back safely, yet still you were not grateful, wow I am glad I wasn’t there, what a name you give people from the city- impatient, selfish, entitled, hyper-critical, self important… Next time you visit, please leave your fine dining expectations at home and opt for a picnic and a walk around that gorgeous island which is worth way more than 8$, and if your glass is still dirty you can take your complaint straight to the top, or just rinse it out if you know how to do that.

    1. Hello Anthea,

      Firstly, I live in the city but I am a fifth-generation Vancouver Islander. I grew up there and return on a routine basis. I suspect that I understand Island life more than you ever could.

      I had a shitty restaurant experience and decided to post about it on my blog back in 2009.

      I eat out probably every second day and if I got in the habit of treating servers with disrespect I’d probably die of starvation! I’m not perfect by any stretch but I do make an effort to be polite to people who serve me food.

      The fact is me and my friends received shitty service that night. Is that an incredibly hard thing to believe? Not really. But the fact that we were stuck there made it a lot worse.

      The staff had no control over the seas, obviously but I feel there was a lot of room for improvement as far as customer service was concerned.

      Keep in mind this was eight years ago and a lot can change in eight years. This post was my recollection of one evening.

      Anyways, I’m curious to know what your connection to this business is.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. The silver lining in every cloud is the ip address that people like “Douglas” leave behind with their silly comments.

    It allows me to actually learn some very real, interesting facts about the author, rather than some silly assumptions he’s pulled out of thin air.

    I suppose when people Google the name of their business and find a “little rant” on a blog about how crappy their place is so high up on the search, they get a bit pissy.

    Oh well! What can you do? It seems their communication tactics are about as professional as their service.

  3. Wow. Douglas is angry. And tauntingly dis’ing you, like a school yard bully. Buried in there is some good, if tried and trite, advice, however. I guess we have to – to use yet another hackneyed truism – look for the silver lining in every cloud. (In this case the cloud is Douglas’ mocking attitude. Oh well).

  4. Sounds to me like you don’t get out much. You should probably stick to the urban locations with global franchises. God forbid you should run into a situation where you’re forced to step out of your comfort zone. Here’s some advice; “Don’t have any expectations and you’ll never be disappointed” and “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.
    Not a criticism, just sounds like you need to adjust your priorities and get a better sense of what’s important. Visit a hospital; look at the homeless people and druggies on the streets; then tell me how important the spots on the water glasses are. Find the woman playing cards; she could teach you a lot more about life and yourself than writing your little rants in a blog.

  5. Hey Melly! Thanks for your comment!

    I should emphasize that the other customers were very friendly and sympathetic. I will also restate that I’m grateful they got us home safely.

    My biggest complaint is with the shitty service we received. Nothing could be done about the weather, but there is a lot the server could have done to improve the situation. But she didn’t.

    She was snotty and disinterested in her job, hiding most of the night behind the counter or in the back kitchen chatting with one of her co-workers.

    That being said, I know there’s a lot of really nice people who patronise the Dinghy Dock and I’m sure the vast majority of the servers are professional, hard working and courteous.

    Maybe you’ll see me there in calmer seas!

    Thanks again for commenting.

  6. I totally disagree with you. I have had nothing but amazing experiences at the Dinghy Dock Pub! I think you should give it another try in the summer. An hour and a half can make a huge impact on the weather on the water and I think you should be grateful they didn’t try to bring you home in unsafe seas.

  7. Oooh… yeah! The cups had lipstick smudges on them… the WATER glasses so it was really obvious and disgusting.I should also mention that the place was banging and shaking like a baby in the washing machine.

  8. You forgot to mention the lip marked water glasses and the fact that the food was definitely not worth the $8 trip over there. I can’t believe we didn’t get any kind of compensation. NEVER going back, and telling all my friends!

  9. It’s actually on a barge on Protection Island! You wouldn’t go there anyways – it’s not an ABC Restaurant, Banners or Dominos! hehe

  10. Very good! I am glad to hear you were not stuck there overnight, although that was very rude of the staff to not try and make your stay more comfortable.

    Well, I know one place I won’t be going in Nanaimo, that’s for sure.

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