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Old 01-04-2016, 04:14 PM   #1
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The Interstate's potential for ferry travel

Thereís at least one ferry thread somewhere on the trailer forums, but there ought to be one for Interstates also, because the challenges are not the same, so here goes.

If you have ever taken your Interstate on and off smaller local ferries, please tell us about your experience, especially with respect to clearance issues.

Iím not talking about the larger regional Ro-Ro ships that are smoothly accessible to pretty much every vehicle ever invented - I mean the channel-hoppers. Some smaller ferries have restrictions for RVs generally or for propane, but the issue that concerns me the most is the potential for tail strike due to the inflection angle of the ramp. Some ferry ramps appear analogous to trying to drive an Interstate onto a flat bed trailer Ė and we know from previous threads how hazardous that can sometimes be.

I ran into this question for the first time today regarding the Bolivar Ferry in Galveston. I was called to jury duty and I had an opportunity to volunteer for a trial in Crystal Beach. That gig had "camp on the beach the night before the trial starts" written all over it, a chance I would have jumped at Ė IF I had known for sure that I could get my Interstate on and off the boat. I sat there in the jury pool looking at Google images of the ramp and texting my husband. He was betting I could make it, but I chickened out in the absence of conclusive information. Iíve attached a general ramp photo. Those scrape marks are there for a reason.

The only ferry about which I can comment with confidence is the Englishtown Ferry in Nova Scotia, well known because it is on the world-famous Cabot Trail. I see no way in hell an Interstate is ever going to be able to access that thing, not with a generator in the rear end of the vehicle. Ainít Going To Happen. Itís smaller than Bolivar and the ramp is precipitous.
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Old 01-04-2016, 04:25 PM   #2
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Over the past 9 years, mine has been on and off at least a dozen ferries all over the eastern half of the US, including the Gulf Coast.

Little local ferries and the bigger, more commercial ones.

Never had a problem, no one ever hesitated in putting it on nor expressed any reservation.

I don't believe the ferries are anything to be concerned about.

We drive out of the way to go on ferries, because they are just plain fun, and because on the Gulf there are often dolphins.


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Old 01-04-2016, 04:27 PM   #3
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I have never, ever seen a ferry with a ramp like the one you have pictured.


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Old 01-04-2016, 05:39 PM   #4
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As I recall, the Mobile Bay Ferry suggests vehicles with low clearances check the tide charts and only use the ferry during times of high tide. It was a deal breaker for us a couple of years ago.


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Old 01-04-2016, 05:43 PM   #5
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Been on the Bolivar ferry several times with our Classic. Have not had a problem yet.
The tide must be really low in your picture.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:58 PM   #6
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The Interstate's potential for ferry travel

During our trip to Alaska in 2014 I took the George Black ferry across the Yukon River at Dawson City, Yukon. It was a wild ride in the swift river current but I never scraped bottom and I have the extended Sprinter. Here are some photos and link to YouTube video.
http://youtu.be/9S23fE1MLMY
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily&Me View Post
I have never, ever seen a ferry with a ramp like the one you have pictured.


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Thus far, that's the ONLY kind of ferry I've ever seen, whether in the U.S. or in Canada.
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:43 AM   #8
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Those may be ocean going ferries, of which I have seen only a few.

Mine has done more inland rivers.


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Old 01-05-2016, 07:54 AM   #9
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Been on the Bolivar ferry several times with our Classic. Have not had a problem yet.
The tide must be really low in your picture.
My husband reminded me last night that there is a quantitative answer to this question - we just don't know it yet. By that I mean, for every model of Interstate (possibly T1N vs. NCV3; definitely regular length vs. EXT), there is a specific angle of inflection that cannot be exceeded. For our vehicle, that is roughly equal to the angle between our street and our driveway. If I am completely unloaded and exquisitely careful, I can back in without using stackers, because I know that I have precisely one finger-width of clearance in that scenario. But if I'm loaded, I have to use stackers.

Apparently there are iPhone apps that can measure such angles. Like proper nerds, we may one day measure the Bolivar ramp, because I'd like to be able to drive to High Island to see the warblers on their spring migration (bucket list).

On another thread a year or so ago, one poster was quite definite that we'd be wanting to replace the OEM skid pads with skid wheels. I'd also feel better if we had wheels - it seems a better solution for minor clearance hang-ups. It's one of those things that has been on my to-do list.
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Old 01-05-2016, 09:00 AM   #10
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Those may be ocean going ferries, of which I have seen only a few.
I've been on one of the Puget Sound ferries, from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, though only in a rental car. The ramp on the Bainbridge Island end was steep enough that I'd be afraid to do it with my non-EXT Interstate.

The Mississippi River ferries can have some pretty steep ramps as well, depending on the river stage at the time.
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Old 01-05-2016, 10:58 AM   #11
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It would be one of those ferry-by-ferry decisions, then, and taking tides into consideration.

Hard to imagine many ordinary vehicles being able to handle the ramp in the photo shown.


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Old 01-05-2016, 01:06 PM   #12
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You can, and will, have problems with scraping bottom, depending on where you are and on the ferry ramp and the tides.

And this is not a problem particular to Interstates. We drove onto a ferry right behind a SOB motorhome with pretty high clearance, and watched as they scraped bottom...and then we did the same!

With that said...no harm done.

The factors are the tides...too low or too high can cause problems. And, the type of ferry....typically, the smaller the ferry, the simpler the ramp and the more angular the approach will be.
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:08 PM   #13
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Has anyone taken the Badger ferry that connects Ludington, Michigan and Wisconsin? Pretty sure I'll be ok...no tides, the ferry is over 400', and I'm only pulling a 23 FB FC. Still, would appreciate any input if you've done it.
Thanks.
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:37 AM   #14
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I took the Badger 3 years sgo - the last coal-fired steamship ferry in the USA. I was on a Harley but remember the ramp being quite gentle incline. I just checked my photo of the ramp and it is nearly flat. I am on my iPhone now and cannot figure out how to attached the photo. Enormous tractor trailers pulling wind turbine shafts loaded that day without difficulty.
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