Help me coordinate BC Ferries!

Old Feb 21st, 2020, 08:32 AM
  #1  
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Help me coordinate BC Ferries!

Hello friends - I need to talk this out and hope someone will weigh in. I've started planning a week in Tofino with these thoughts:
- Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo - pick up car in Nainamo
- Drive to Tofino
- Stay Tofino 5 nights
- Drive to Nanaimo, overnight someplace cheap near departure ferry

Here's where I'm stuck. My flight out of Vancouver is at 2 p.m. I need to drop off the car quite early which I believe is not an issue. But how then do I get to the Ferry? And do I need to take the 6:30 am crossing or can I take the 8:45 and still make the crossing, train to airport and my flight?
Honestly the logistics are making me very tired already, and wondering if I should do something simpler, like veg out on Bowen ISland for a few nights instead. ;-)

The other option of course would be to train to the airport pick up a car there and drive onto the ferry. Then I could just drive the car back to the airport. I just don't know how crazy the driving is in Vancouver, and I won't have a navigator as I'm going solo. Will I get lost? I think the car rate is the same for either. I could also passenger ferry out, pick up the car in Nainamo and then car ferry it back drop it off at the airport. Again, maps always make routes look so easy.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 01:15 PM
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Well, a bit of a challenge. But how about this idea - take the ferry from Nanaimo back to Tsawwassen instead of Horseshoe Bay? You could take the 545p, then spend the night at an airport hotel. I believe there is a shuttle that you could take from Tsawwassen, but you'd need to check that schedule. Or Uber/Lyft/taxi. You could also stay the night in Nanaimo and take a morning ferry in.

Either way, you would be spared trying to get through Vancouver traffic (Tsawwassen is south of the city).

Here is the link to that particular ferry: https://www.bcferries.com/schedules/...dp-current.php
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 01:57 PM
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I was thinking you are departing from the Vancouver airport, but is it actually Seattle? If so, here's another thought. Can you return the car in Victoria, or return the car in Nanaimo and take a bus to Victoria? Then spend the night in Victoria, and catch the Clipper (fast ferry) directly to Seattle. https://www.clippervacations.com/sea...ictoria-ferry/
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 05:05 AM
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Thank you for this. I have decided that I’ll rent the car in Vancouver and not Nanaimo. I’ve been chatting with some other folks, and someone else mentioned that ferry as well. At this point I’ll probably walk/schlep to the waterfront sky station, train into the airport, get the car and drive south to that ferry. It might be a dark walk, as I want to get over there as early as possible.

i guess Vancouver traffic must be pretty scary the way folks talk! My loft is north, in gas town and there’s an enterprise car rental place 6 blocks from me. It would be so easy it seems, to walk over there the night before I leave, get the car there, and the next day go north to Horseshoe bay, then I could return on the ferry south of the city, to my hotel at the airport. The route would be over the iron workers bridge or whatever it’s called, Not lions gate. Thoughts?

Yes, I’m flying in and out of Vancouver, I did make that decision and have my tickets. Thank you!

Last edited by Rocket79; Feb 23rd, 2020 at 05:10 AM. Reason: Additions
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 07:33 AM
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Well, it's big city traffic, but I've been in much worse. You'll find that there are lanes that switch directions depending on rush hour traffic over those bridges, which eases rush hour somewhat. And honestly, both Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen ferry rides are nice. Horseshoe Bay is the more scenic terminal, but the amenities at Tsawwassen are slightly better. Your choice. Having a car, you won't have the delay or hassle at Nanaimo, but of course it is more expensive. Make sure you make a reservation for the ferry if you are bringing a car, so you don't run the risk of it being full and having to wait a long time for the next one. And do get there with sufficient advance timing.

Have a wonderful trip. I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy it.

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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 09:16 AM
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You should be fine to pick up the car near your hotel and take the Irownworkers bridge to Horseshoe bay, just allow plenty of time as that bridge is a bottleneck at rush hour times, plus there is a lot of construction on the north shore right now so lots of traffic. Otherwise it is not crazy driving in Vancouver. Use Google maps and you will be fine. Horseshoe bay is a pretty place to leave from.

Coming back you can easily take the ferry to Tsawwassen and then on to the airport hotel. This route takes you through the Nassey tunnel under the Fraser river which can get jammed up at rush hour times but is otherwise fine and it is an easy drive to the airport.

Be aware that you take the Duke Point ferry when you are on the island, to arrive at Tsawwassen, not the Departure Bay ferry. Departure Bay ferry goes to Horseshoe Bay and Duke Point goes to Tsawwassen. The Duke Point-Tsawwassen crossing takes slightly longer, 2 hours, rather than 1 hour 35.
Don't worry there are large signs on the highway directing you to Duke Point and also signs which advise about wait times for both ferries.

Enjoy your trip-Tofino is gorgeous. Yummy food at Tacofino.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 12:50 PM
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Thanks again. I really feel better about doing it this way. Please tell me what times are rush hour in Van, or between the 6:30 and 8:45 a.m. ferries, which would you recommend for traffic? I know I've got to get there early to get my spot, and I plan to reserve in advance.

SO:
I'll walk to get car the day before
Take Horseshoe bay out
Take Duke Point (Tsaw) ferry coming back.

So more questions, and I really appreciate this: Since I now will have my car all the way to the airport, would it really be a risk to just catch an early ferry back from Duke Point, and head to the airport from there? I think If I got onto the 7:45 a.m. ferry, wouldn't that give me enough time to drive to the airport, drop the car and catch a 2 p.m. flight? It seems pretty doable. I would prefer this as it would give me a more leisurely drive back to Nanaimo.
Many thanks!





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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 04:18 PM
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Morning rush hour is between 7:00am and 10:00am roughly, so I'd reserve for the 6:30 ferry, you need to be there at least half an hour prior to departure or your reservation is null and void, so you should miss the worst of the traffic.

On your return the 7:45 ferry is doable, that puts you into Tsawwassen about 9:45, by the time you offload, could be closer to 10:00, plenty of time to get to the airport, barring any traffic mishaps in the tunnel. The rental car drop off at the airport is fairly close to the terminal so that shouldn't be an issue I don't think.
The only thing I wonder about-are you planning to start this day in Tofino or Nanaimo? If it is Tofino you will have to be up very early, you would need to be at Duke Point no later than 7:15 and the drive to Tofino is on a very winding curvy road, it is not the kind of road where you can just put the hammer down and go for it if you know what I mean. It's the kind of road you need to pay a lot of attention to. It would be more fail safe if you spent the night before in Nanaimo.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 04:20 PM
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AM730 is the radio station that is All Traffic All the Time, handy to have on if you want traffic updates. They give ferry updates as well.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by raincitygirl View Post
Morning rush hour is between 7:00am and 10:00am roughly, so I'd reserve for the 6:30 ferry, you need to be there at least half an hour prior to departure or your reservation is null and void, so you should miss the worst of the traffic.

On your return the 7:45 ferry is doable, that puts you into Tsawwassen about 9:45, by the time you offload, could be closer to 10:00, plenty of time to get to the airport, barring any traffic mishaps in the tunnel. The rental car drop off at the airport is fairly close to the terminal so that shouldn't be an issue I don't think.
The only thing I wonder about-are you planning to start this day in Tofino or Nanaimo? If it is Tofino you will have to be up very early, you would need to be at Duke Point no later than 7:15 and the drive to Tofino is on a very winding curvy road, it is not the kind of road where you can just put the hammer down and go for it if you know what I mean. It's the kind of road you need to pay a lot of attention to. It would be more fail safe if you spent the night before in Nanaimo.
Thanks again! Yes, I'd be staying that night in Nanaimo. I found an airbnb that is very close to the Duke Point terminal, so I"d just have to leave from there and get to the ferry. Doing this means I could enjoy my drive from Tofino to Nanaimo, and then get to the ferry the next morning. This is what I'd prefer to do. So if I left my place in Gas Town at 5 a.m., for the trip out, is that sufficient? Thanks again.

Last edited by Rocket79; Feb 23rd, 2020 at 05:10 PM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 07:55 AM
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That should be sufficient. Double check the arrival times when you make your ferry reservation, it has always been at least half an hour prior to departure but it might have changed since last I made one.
You can Google maps your drive time to make sure but I think that should give you ample time.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by raincitygirl View Post
That should be sufficient. Double check the arrival times when you make your ferry reservation, it has always been at least half an hour prior to departure but it might have changed since last I made one.
You can Google maps your drive time to make sure but I think that should give you ample time.
Thank you! Hope I can find it in the dark. ;-)

Going that early, would the lion's gate bridge route make more sense? And then I'm done, I swear!

Last edited by Rocket79; Feb 24th, 2020 at 09:26 AM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 02:49 PM
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Hi no problem.
Yes, at that time in the morning it might be quicker to take Lion's Gate bridge, I just did a practice one on google maps and it's a bit shorter, plus it's more scenic as you drive through part of Stanley Park and the view from the Lion's Gate is nicer. It also takes you straight into West Vancouver and cuts short the amount of time you are on the Upper Levels Highway. I would do that route at that time of day.

You shouldn't be in the dark for too much of it since daylight at that time of year is 5:49am on May 1st, but getting closer to 5:00 later in the month.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 05:40 AM
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Thanks again. I think I may take the bus over to Horseshoe Bay just to scope it out and see where I'll be going. It might be a nice outing...
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 11:21 AM
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I am very directionally challenged and I managed to find my way around by myself with help of GPS. It was not dark though so that helped. The error I made was going over a toll bridge. I did not see anywhere to pay the toll or any information on how to pay and months later they tracked me down in Oregon. There likely was info on how to do this but I did not see it. Sorry-don't remember the name of the bridge.

It would be nice to have the car on the day you drive to the Horseshoe Ferry. There is a nice restaurant - The Beach House- about 15 min from the ferry. Its on the water, great views, outdoor seating. Very popular so you would reservation especially if you wanted to be outside. Lots to be seen on that side of the city.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 04:30 PM
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Sadly, I believe the Beach House closed down...
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 04:38 PM
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Sludick- oh no! That is too bad! The Web Page doesn't say anything about it!
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 04:43 PM
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I found a post saying the Beach House had reopened.
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 03:33 AM
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Oh, I hope so! We did enjoy the place, with its views and ambiance.
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 05:26 AM
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I won't get there, unless I take a bus out to the area to scope out my route, but I just may check it out!
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