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Old 06-22-2015, 09:46 PM   #1
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RV dry camping before taking a BC ferry to Vancouver Island

We are heading from CA to Vancouver Island and plan to take a BC Ferry from Vancouver. While on a recent camping trip, I met a fellow RVer who says you can get cued up in line for the ferry and then dry camp for the night. I called the BC Ferry information line to ask and got the response that you could not do that but could possibly stop along the road. What is the correct answer? Has anyone had experience taking the ferry and spending the night in line beforehand? Any tips or tricks? We have a 29' pull behind trailer with one slide-out that will need to open. Any cautions?

Thanks.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:10 AM   #2
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The ferry terminal in Tsawwassen sits at the end of a long causeway. They have some parking lots their but I doubt you could stay overnight in them at least with them knowing. You would probably have to pay for 2 spots as well which isn't all that cheap. At the landward end of the causeway is the Tsawwassen First Nation. You might check with to see if they would let you stay on their land otherwise you may have to check around a bit. Dry or free camping is not really acceptable in most parts of the lower mainland. Even the 3 closest Walmarts do not allow overnight parking. Maybe some others have a suggestion. There are some fairly rural areas just to the north of the ferry terminal. You might find a quiet place to discreetly park for the night.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:19 AM   #3
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I live on the Island an will head out late the evening before to line up at the locked gate at the entrance to the Duke point terminal to get the first ferry in the morning. I hate having to get up and drive for a couple of hours at 3 in the morning and would rather just sleep at the gate. The workers do not care what you do outside the gate and we have never been hassled for doing this.

During the busy summer season I have sometimes had to wait overnight outside the terminal area on the Vancouver side because we couldn't get on the last ferry. Again the workers have no problem with you being there. BC Ferries will probably pretend this doesn't happen but some times you end up with a few dozen RVers, truckers and car drivers having a cool time chatting outside the gates.

If you are headed out to long beach you will be passing right close by our house. If you need area information i am in the port Alberni phone book and can assist.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:53 AM   #4
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The only terminal you can stay overnight is Prince Rupert. There is no parking on the caueway and enforcement is carried out by Imperial parking and they will get you to move. There is an adjacent beach but it is cleared by a security guard and the gates locked at dusk. The RV park located by the terminal is not a place I would want to stay. The closest Walmart that allows boondocking is in Chilliwack. Sorry for the bad news but it looks like you might have to camp 30 miles distant or make a reservation.

BC Ferries also runs a special for trailers on select days in the summer
Size Up The Savings | BC Ferries - British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
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Old 06-23-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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The only terminal you can stay overnight is Prince Rupert. There is no parking on the caueway and enforcement is carried out by Imperial parking and they will get you to move. There is an adjacent beach but it is cleared by a security guard and the gates locked at dusk. The RV park located by the terminal is not a place I would want to stay. The closest Walmart that allows boondocking is in Chilliwack. Sorry for the bad news but it looks like you might have to camp 30 miles distant or make a reservation.

BC Ferries also runs a special for trailers on select days in the summer
Size Up The Savings | BC Ferries - British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
Yes they run specials and now you call people liars. We stay at the gate to the terminal all the time and nobody says boo.
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Old 06-23-2015, 06:58 PM   #6
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Yes they run specials and now you call people liars. We stay at the gate to the terminal all the time and nobody says boo.
Never called you a liar.
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Old 06-23-2015, 07:12 PM   #7
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Never called you a liar.
I apologize as I mistook your post location. Sorry.
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Old 06-23-2015, 08:39 PM   #8
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I know you are thinking BC ferries, but you might consider the Washington State ferry from Anacortes. You can make reservations, which assures you a spot without the above hassle. There are several options for camping in the area the night before.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:27 PM   #9
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That route across the San Juans is beautiful.
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Old 07-11-2015, 11:52 PM   #10
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I recommend taking the Washington State Ferries route from Anacortes Washington. You can get reservations - I think only two runs a day.

The fare is much less than BC ferries from Tswassen or Horsehoe Bay (or any other BC Ferries route). WSF also less than Black Ball from Port Angeles to Victoria on Vancouver Island.

There are several RV parks within 10 -15 miles from the Anacortes Ferry terminal. You can even dry camp at the Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. If is hardly ever crowded except during the Art Festival in August. There are about 12 marked sites but more have been in thru parking area. The marina manager told me that the port may develop the RV section to include more sites and full utilities.


How do I know this? I have lived in Anacortes for 15 years.
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:30 PM   #11
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I just checked on ferry fares to Vancouver island. I used two passengers age 65+ and a 60 foot vehicle length - our MH + CRV is 60 feet.

Port Townsend - victoria: $301.50
ANACORTES - Sydney: $219.85
Tswassen - Schwartz bay: $256.88 (USD) 326.40 CDN

this is assuming that my math is correct!

I see that the BC ferries fare is not much more than Washignton State Ferry from Anacortes after converting the BC Fare to USD.

I would consider using WSF and BC ferries combined - that way you get the best of both worlds as both are nice scenic runs. Of course it depends on how far you are planning on driving up Vancouver Island. If you go as far as Comox BC you can take the BC Ferry to Powell River (good fishing I've heard) you then have two more BC Ferries to take to get to Vancouver. I've never done all of that stretch but is should be a nice trip. We did go from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay to langdale (Ferry) to Earls Cove and then returned to Horshoe Bay and Vancouver and the scenery was very nice.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:29 PM   #12
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I just checked on ferry fares to Vancouver island. I used two passengers age 65+ and a 60 foot vehicle length - our MH + CRV is 60 feet.

Port Townsend - victoria: $301.50
ANACORTES - Sydney: $219.85
Tswassen - Schwartz bay: $256.88 (USD) 326.40 CDN

this is assuming that my math is correct!

I see that the BC ferries fare is not much more than Washignton State Ferry from Anacortes after converting the BC Fare to USD.

I would consider using WSF and BC ferries combined - that way you get the best of both worlds as both are nice scenic runs. Of course it depends on how far you are planning on driving up Vancouver Island. If you go as far as Comox BC you can take the BC Ferry to Powell River (good fishing I've heard) you then have two more BC Ferries to take to get to Vancouver. I've never done all of that stretch but is should be a nice trip. We did go from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay to langdale (Ferry) to Earls Cove and then returned to Horshoe Bay and Vancouver and the scenery was very nice.
By Port Townsend, I assume you mean Port Angeles. But, depending on where you are going to/from, you might also have to take the Port Townsend ferry from/to Coupeville, adding to the cost.

You will save on WSF by disconnecting the toad. They charge by height and length, disconnecting reduces the height charge. You need two reservations.

This strategy may also apply to the other routes but I do not have first hand experience on them.
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Old 07-12-2015, 05:38 PM   #13
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By Port Townsend, I assume you mean Port Angeles. But, depending on where you are going to/from, you might also have to take the Port Townsend ferry from/to Coupeville, adding to the cost.

You will save on WSF by disconnecting the toad. They charge by height and length, disconnecting reduces the height charge. You need two reservations.

This strategy may also apply to the other routes but I do not have first hand experience on them.
Agreed, most people I know drive the two separated on both routes.

The BCFerries people pride themselves on the fine cuisine in their gut wrenching burger joints but I want to go A to B and could give a ratzz about cuisine onboard. It's a frerry and not a cruise ship.
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Old 07-12-2015, 07:38 PM   #14
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Senior moment - I meant Port Angeles to Victoria.

I did a quick check on disconnecting and driving the toad separately (2005 CR-V) and this is what I came up with (provided my numbers have been entered correctly):

Anacortes - Sidney
1) 60' length MH with toad connected fare is $219.85

2) 40' MH age 65 +
Fare for the MH 40' with sr driver is $9.50 + $133.45 + $142.95
Fare for CV-V w/sr driver is $9.50 + 51.80 + $61.30
total both units loaded separately = $142.95 + $61.30 + 214.25

This is a saving of ~$5.60 and is not worth the effort particularly since my wife has never driven a car onto a ferry. It probably wouldn't work even if the difference was $20.00 and I wouldn't push her to do the drive-on by her self. I don't think that one driver would be able to get two vehicles on separately due to the time constraints in loading.

Please advise if my math is not correct. I've been out in the sun too long working with a pressure washer.
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