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Old 10-11-2006, 12:25 PM   #1
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Alaska by Ferry

I know a number of you have driven north on the Alaska Highway and there are several threads devoted to that. I wonder who has had the experience of taking an Airstream and pets from Bellingham or Prince Rupert on the ferry up the Inside Passage ("Alaska Marine Highway")? Pros and especially cons would be appreciated.
Larry
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:35 PM   #2
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Great question. I was wondering about that myself. Ride up drive back.
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Old 10-11-2006, 02:01 PM   #3
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I was thinking of riding the ferry up and driving down in 2008. This would be a great caravan idea.

Any coordinators for this event?
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Old 10-11-2006, 02:29 PM   #4
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Check the BC Ferries website for the summer schedule through the Inside Passage. It runs from Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands.
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Old 10-11-2006, 02:35 PM   #5
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Alaska by Ferry

Here is a thread for the journal of a family from Region 1. They drove to Alaska and came back by ferry. www.hamnqvist.org/vacations/alaska06/
The region 1 website has a link to this journal and one for three other members who drove to Alaska this year. Both are very interesting reading.
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Old 10-11-2006, 05:59 PM   #6
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Thanks. I read the Hamnqvist's report; really excellent reading. They, unfortunately, weren't travelling with pets. My understanding is that pets have to stay in the vehicle and humans must travel topside, which poses some really obvious (oderous) problems when travelling with dogs, and I've been warned: we will not leave the dogs behind! I know Black Ball Ferry to Victoria has the same restrictions, but the ride's only one hour. Don't know about BC out of Pt Hardy; couldn't find anything on the website so I'll give them a call. (Every time we go up to Vancouver Island to camp, we end up staying on the Island because the parks and people are so nice there never seems to be any need to go further.) As you might imagine from my address, we're quite familiar with the local ferries - just not the ones that head north.

Larry
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Old 10-11-2006, 07:52 PM   #7
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taking the ferry will save a lot of wear and tear. but be prepared to fork over a lot of gelt..even with a tiny 16 footer it is gonna cost...
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:39 PM   #8
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On a trip of that length, I'm sure that the crew would allow you down to the car deck to let the pets "go". I've travelled a lot on the southerly routes of BC Ferries, and I've frequently seen people walking their dogs amongst the vehicles. As you've suggested, a quick call would take care of that concern.
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:36 PM   #9
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We took the AK ferry from Prince Rupert to Skagway via Ketchican, Sitka, and Juneau this summer. We have a Dodge short wheelbase club cab pulling a 30' Airstream for a total length of approximately 52 feet. Cost of the ferry was about $2500, which included a stateroom on the longest leg, from Ketchican to Sitka. We spent 3-4 days in each port. Backing onto the ferries was interesting. One time a crew member reached in the driver's window and steered, one time he gave me instructions, once he just got in and drove the rig, and once I got to drive on going forward. That time I backed into the bow of the ship and then drove off the ship. The entrances are on each side of the bow, so once aboard, you have to turn down the length of the ship. I didn't drag the rear of the trailer on the ramp when loading, but our Airstream is raised a couple of inches from stock. Our friend, traveling with us, didn't drag with their 25' AS, but many of the large motorhomes did. Ours would have if it had been stock height. Shorter is definately better for this trip. The best from a loading/unloading standpoint would be a pickup/camper or a class B van. You are allowed on the car deck for a short time on the longer legs. Be prepared for the ferry schedules to change after you make reservations. I thought we were just unlucky, but the locals told us it happens every year. The trip was very worthwhile........scenery, wildlife, the Tongas narrows at night. If you get to Valdez, take on of the Columbia Glacier cruises. I can give you more info on campgrounds, etc if you like. Terry
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Old 10-12-2006, 08:31 AM   #10
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Thanks, Terry. Any info you you have would be great! Our total length is 35', and just to trailer over to the "Seattle Side" is about $60 (length plus overheight - Wash St Ferries can really get their pound of flesh, especially during tourist season). Did you see anyone walking their pets on the car deck?

Larry
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Old 10-12-2006, 12:49 PM   #11
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We took the ferry several times in our Eurovan before upgrading to our Airstream. FYI they are Alaska State Ferries which you can pick up in Bellingham or Prince Rupert.

Regarding pets, owners are allowed down twice a day to visit and walk them. You can also take them off the boat at stops. It works out reasonably well.

The ferry offers a wonderful albeit very expensive alternative to view SE Alaska. As we plan our next trip to Alaska in 2008 we'll probably drive both ways from the Bellingham area going up via Stuart and Hyder and coming back through Fort Nelson.
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:10 PM   #12
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I was looking forward to using the ferries on the northbound leg of the trip, but worries about dragging the undercarriage on steeply sloped transfer ramps has me worried. I'd like to hear from anyone who has first hand experience with this towing an Airstream. Also whether there is any problem with clearance at the car deck door if the ramps are sloped. I cna't imagine there would be, but the ferry website warns of possible problems. I have the John Holod video that covers the ferry system. He experienced no problems, but was towing a fifth wheel that appears to be sitting quite a bit higher than my 30' Classic.
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:50 PM   #13
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Larry.......sorry to take so long to respond. We stayed at:

Park Avenue campground in Prince Rupert BC. Nice, open sites near the ferry terminal, good satellite access.

Clover Pass Resort in Ketchikan. Fairly crowded, did get sat reception. Outside of town a few miles, but you don't want to go into town pulling a trailer.

Sitka Sportsman's RV Park. Next to ferry terminal. Mountains prevent any satellite, tv, or radio recption. Partial hookups. There is another park in town on the waterfront (actually a parking lot) that I would try for next time. You do have to go through town to get to it.

Spruce Meadow RV Park in Juneau. Nice, but heavy tree cover, so no sat reception, at least from our site. It is between the ferry terminal and town.

Pullen Creek RV Park in Skagway. Again, no sat recption due to mountains. There is another park on the other side (toward Whitehorse) of town that might be better. Next time, I would get off the ferry in Haines instead of Skagway.
We didn't see anyone walking pets, but people were allowed down to the car deck to take care of them.

Brijbldr......as I posted above, we didn't drag, but our AS sits higher than most. You would probably be ok if you released the tension on your hitch bars. This would drop the back of your truck/front of your trailer, raising the back of your trailer. There is plenty of overhead clearance. As I mentioned above, you will probably be backing on to the ship (very slowly). Many of the large motorhome did drag, some badly.

Terry
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Old 02-11-2007, 11:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n7bdl

Brijbldr......as I posted above, we didn't drag, but our AS sits higher than most. You would probably be ok if you released the tension on your hitch bars. This would drop the back of your truck/front of your trailer, raising the back of your trailer. There is plenty of overhead clearance. As I mentioned above, you will probably be backing on to the ship (very slowly). Many of the large motorhome did drag, some badly.

Terry
Thanks a bunch for the info, Terry. I drag the back of my trailer everytime I leave my driveway if I'm not careful. I first bought a hitch bar with an eight inch drop to get the back of the trailer up but finally learned to leave the drive at an angle which did the trick. Just removing the spring bars didn't give me enough rise in the back. I'm thinking that it might be good to bring the other hitch bar with me just in case. Someone wrote in to Highways Magazine a few months ago recommending carrying a bunch of 2 X 4's to help this problem. Think there's any benefit to that?

Hoping to hear from some other people about this also. Surely there are a lot of 'Streamers who have made the trip and can pass on some wisdom. Especially some with a trailer that squats as low as my Classic.

Bruce
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