Motorcycles on B.C. Ferries
If you have already taken a trip to the Sunshine Coast, or Vancouver Island, you already know the drill. If you have not, however, there are a few simple things to keep in mind that will make your trip easy, fun and less stressful.
A few things to note about riding a motorcycle onto B.C. Ferries:
- Motorcycles get priority boarding. No more reservations and no missed sailings.
- Motorcycles, on most boats, are first on and first off. Beat the traffic out of town.
- Motorcycles sail cheaper than cars. Roughly $20-25 less than a car per trip.
Now, if you have never ridden aboard, here is an overview of how it goes down. Read these over so when you do finally take the bike on that Sunshine Coast – Vancouver Island Loop, you’re not left wondering what to do.
Ride up to the ticket booth like you normally would and pay your fare. Remember, B.C. Ferries accepts cash and credit card, no debit, so be prepared. It is always easiest to shut your bike down when you’re at the ticket booth. It reduces noise, exhaust and makes it a little bit easier to get in and out of your wallet. The ticket vendor will then give you special instructions as to where to go (remember that priority boarding thing?). As an example, at Horseshoe Bay, they may route you up lane 83 to the top of the ramp, in front of the other cars. At smaller terminals like Earl’s Cover, where there is no attendant, just look for the sign that says “MOTORCYCLES”.
Once all the cars have disembarked from the ship, the ferry attendant will give the bikes the go ahead to load up. Simply follow the attendant’s instructions as to where you should be headed, there are always several to guide you. You will ride up to the front of the ship along the outside edge where you may, or may not, see this sign.
If you don’t see the sign, or if it only kind of makes sense, no worries, here is what to do. Once you get up to the front simply back your bike against the rail at a 45 degree angle to the center of the ship like this and leave it in low gear.
Lean your bike onto its sidestand to stop it from falling to the left. On the ride side grab one of the wooden blocks provided (you will see them laying around behind the rail or on a rack) and slide it into the frame and under the exhaust. These will help to stop the motorcycle from falling to the right.
Now you are all set up to go enjoy the scenery, grab a coffee, or whatever it is you do on a ferry. I take lots, and lot of pictures.
When they make the announcment that you are nearing your terminal, head back down to your bike. Remove the block and start gearing up in preperation for arrival. You want to make sure to be at the motorcycle when you hit land for a couple of reasons. First, you want to be sitting on your bike so you can brace it for impact with the shorepilings. For the most part, it is no issue, but it can sometimes hit pretty hard. Better safe than sorry. Second, as mentioned before, first on, first off, so get to your bike and be ready to roll. You will probably want to fire up once you’ve hit land and the vehicle ramp is making its way down to the deck. This will give you a minute or two to warm the bike up and adjust your position out of 45 degrees to head off the ship.
That is really about all there is to it. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Ride SLOWLY onto and off the ship. The metal deck is slippery. The ramps are slippery and often metal grates.
- In order to get on a ship you must arrive 10 minutes prior to departure. I recommend arriving earlier to chat with the other riders. Shoot to get there 30 minutes prior to departure to swap stories, get local info and check out the other bikes.
- Don’t leave your helmet sitting on your seat. It will end up on the ground, damaged and rolling around the car deck.
- Don’t speed leaving the ferry terminals. These areas are hot beds for police knowing people are itching to get rolling. Be smart and adhere to the 20-40 km/h posted speeds, they only last a kilometer at the most.
Hope to see you on the boat, so saddle up and ride.