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Old 06-09-2019, 09:00 PM   #1
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1966 26' Overlander
San Luis Obispo , California
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Ferry to Vancouver Island

Looking to pull the AS to Vancouver Island late July - early August. Any suggestions on which ferries are best or any to stay away from?. Possible routes from Olympic peninsula, Seattle area or Vancouver area.

Any campgrounds/RV Parks to recommend?

Thanks for your input.

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Old 06-09-2019, 09:01 PM   #2
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Ferry to Vancouver Island

For campgound info, we plan to stay near the Victoria area for the most part.


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Old 06-09-2019, 09:19 PM   #3
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If you are on the Olympic peninsula you might want to check this site,
direct sailing from P.A. to Victoria on the Black Ball ferry Coho
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:11 PM   #4
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I would come up the I5 from the Seattle area to the border crossing, then to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal (BC Ferries), take the ferry to Schwartz Bay, and you are in the suburbs of Victoria.

The Coho ferry terminal in Victoria has always looked tight to me with the side loading door and small loading/unloading space.

If you are staying in Victoria, you can return on the same route. If you are headed up the island, you can cross from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, or use the Duke Point crossing back to Tsawwassen. For camping, we like Victoria, and the Parksville area (good for kids, lots of sandy beaches), but our favourite is Long Beach near Tofino.

BC Ferries takes reservations (and reservations are a good idea in the summer). Reservations add $10 each way if you book a week ahead. You can just show up and wait for space, and that works fairly well mid week, but sitting in ferry lineups is no fun IMO. When you book on line you can see which ferry is assigned that run. We look for the Coastal Class vessels (newest in the fleet), but will also book the Spirit Class vessels. We try and not book the older vessels that are often used for additional runs in the summer months when traffic is heavier, but they get you there just as well.
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:14 AM   #5
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Check out this superb RV place right on Victoria harbour! Just stayed there. You can walk to downtown in 20 mins on seashore walkway or cycle in 10 minutes on dedicated bike paths.

Very popular so check right away.
Gary Nijman
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:35 AM   #6
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The Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay route is your best bet, and runs frequently. Itís a popular route in the summer, so reservations are recommended, especially if youíre towing a trailer.

One thing to note is that thereís a pretty big tide differential in the Strait of Georgia. If you have a long trailer or low clearance, especially around the hitch, you may want to consult a tide chart and avoid sailings when loading or unloading would take place near high or low tide. BC Ferries is a pretty efficient operation, so it typically takes 15 minutes to load or unload.
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:55 AM   #7
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I take the Coho from Port Angeles with the airstream twice a year with no hassles loading . We just returned to Victoria on that route 3 weeks ago and they were unloading 3 large tour buses as well as a couple of travel trailers so don't worry about your trailer length being an issue at all.
Coho is an old (1950's??) ferry and not a particularly interesting ferry ride.... in Can$ it costs more than BC ferries out of Tsawwassen but you get to miss the big border crossing at Peace Arch and dont have to drive thru Seattle. You can reserve online as there is only 2-3 crossings a day. The drive up the Olympic Peninsula from I-5 is a beautiful winding road with several spots to stay (Washington).
As a first time visitor though I would highly recommend taking the Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay route (Vancouver- Victoria) is a stunningly beautiful ride thru the islands and is a must see ride!! You will also be on a huge Ferry that has restaurants etc....almost like a cruise liner.... You have ferries in the summer ever hour on the hour from 7am-9pm ..... Both options are about 1hr 35min crossing. Definitely reserve as its a cheap guarantee and if you miss it you only pay for the reserve fee (this applies to Coho and BC ferries)

As far as tides go??? I have been riding the ferries all my life and have never paid any attention to Tide tables for the ferries ..... they use power ramps that raise and lower and have huge trucks and buses loading on every boat. I've seen it be a small issue on the small Inter Island Ferries, but they still loaded the trailer fine.
If you want to stay downtown area make sure you try and book asap as there isn't much(try Fort Victoria just outside of the city). The site mentioned above is great but make sure you reserve now!!
Just outside the city is Goldstream Provincial Park ...beautiful spot in the is about a 15-30 min drive into town depending on traffic. Typical of most Provincial Parks there are no services at the sites but they do have a dump station.....reserve online.
Note;/ Victoria and the outside area has lots of great bike trails ..... you can ride almost from Goldstream park to downtown without hardly riding any roads using the old railway (Galloping Goose or E&N) lines.
If you are going Up Island I would recommend going to Tofino for an amazing west coast stay/experience.... Use Crystal Cove for a great private full service spot ....excellent site but very popular. You also could look at the National Park sites which are similar to Provincial sites.
Both places need reservations asap.
Dont worry though you'll find lots and lots of great places to stay on the Island. Enjoy your visit.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:37 AM   #8
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Vancouver Island

Thank you all very much for all the great information!
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:40 AM   #9
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Alternate Route

Depending on your travel plans, you can also do the Horseshoe Bay <-> Nanaimo, either to or from. Leaving from Tsawwassen probably makes more sense as it's an easy drive from the border, but if you do plan to head to Whistler or possibly up the Sunshine Coast after Vancouver Island, leaving from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay will get you around Vancouver traffic.

Have spent several seasons on Gabriola Island, made many trips to the mainland, and in our experience BC Ferries is great accommodating summer travelers with all kinds of RV's. We stayed in a vacation home, didn't have our Airstream back then, but you couldn't pick a better place to spend some time. It's amazing this time of year...
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:50 AM   #10
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Website indicates big rigs only. Can AS trailers reserve there I.e. 25 footers?
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:51 AM   #11
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One more thing before you book.
BC ferries has an " extra length vehicle promotion" that runs from May 16 till September 4th which will save you an additional 3.25 per foot over 20 ft.
Makes it worth the cost of a reservation.
Just look at and come and enjoy our beautiful island.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:54 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by PatLee View Post
Website indicates big rigs only. Can AS trailers reserve there I.e. 25 footers?
Yes. I do it all the time. Look on the promotions that I mentioned above.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:08 PM   #13
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The BC Ferries are very nice and the ride through the islands is great but the drive through Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, and customs at the Peace Arch is not fun. A pleasant drive up the Olympic Peninsula and a ride on the vintage MV Coho is a more relaxed option.

If you want a nice island ferry ride leave the trailer at the camp site and take a day trip to Salt Spring Island.
Cheers, Dan

"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:31 PM   #14
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Another alternative is taking the WA state ferry from Anacortes to Sydney, BC, which is near where the Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay ferry lands north of Victoria. There's two sailings daily, with one of the sailings making a stop-over at Friday Harbor. It's a beautiful, scenic ride through the San Juan Islands.
The WA state ferries are basic and short on amenities compared to the BC ferries. We have taken our pick-up truck & 31' Airstream on the WA ferries without issue. If you do a stop-over at any of the islands, you do have to be aware of the tides & ramp angles for loading a big rig.
The down side is that you need to drive I5 through Seattle to get to Anacortes. The up side is that you don't have to cross over at Peace Arch or the Truck Crossing. Reservations are recommended.

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