Trip 221 - July 12, 2021 (Monday)
BC Ferries Trip
Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo (Departure Bay)
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Distance from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay Ferry
Approximately 17 km via Lions Gate Bridge, Marine Drive, Taylor Way and Highway
Liked: A modern ferry with numerous amenities, fine water and mountain views.
Of Note: Very windy on the sun deck in the front of the ship, the cost of the ride is expensive, sailing waits are possible (unless you have a reservation, which costs extra).
Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Backroad Mapbook (5th edition) Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal Coordinates: Page 11 (North Vancouver) A6.
Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook (9th edition) Departure Bay (Nanaimo) Ferry Terminal Coordinates: Page 19 (Nanaimo) C2.
Today, we took a trip aboard Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry from West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay (at the end of Highway 1 West) to Nanaimo (Departure Bay). Coastal Renaissance is a 14-year-old ferry full of modern conveniences, and the views en route are quite decent too. The ferry took 1 hour and 41 minutes to cover the distance of approximately 56 km, at an average speed of about 34.0 km/h, and a maximum speed of 47.2 km/h, as per our GPS.
Coastal Renaissance was built in Germany in 2007, and is a very fine and comfortable vessel. As per BC Ferries website, it can carry 310 cars and 1,604 people (crew members included), at a maximum speed of 23 knots. As that translates into 42.6 km/h, and our GPS showed a maximum speed of 47.2 km/h, there must have been some favourable current along the way.
During the voyage, there are good views of nearby islands to be had, though beware of strong winds on the upper (sun) deck near the front of the ship. Finally, unless you are a foot passenger, get ready to spend some serious cash for this ride. Round trip just for a regular vehicle alone is going to be over $110. There are also applicable fees for each person in the vehicle. If you have a trailer or your vehicle is large, there are additional fees. Check out BC Ferries website for the sailings schedule and latest ticket prices.
1. Here is Coastal Renaissance ferry, which we rode from Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Departure Bay (Nanaimo) on Vancouver Island. We took this photo on the way back from Vancouver Island, when we sailed on Queen of Cowichan.
2. To get to Horseshoe Bay from Vancouver, take Highway 1 West. Here we are near the end of the highway, approaching the ferry terminal.
3-4. Payment kiosks/booths at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. In addition to Nanaimo (Departure Bay Terminal), it is possible to take a ferry from here to Sunshine Coast (Langdale) and Bowen Island. Nanaimo has another terminal (Duke Point), and ferries go from there to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal near Delta. To take a ferry to Victoria and Southern Gulf Islands, one also has to board in Tsawwassen.
5. You have to pay before you play.
6. Having purchased your ticket, you join the line-up and wait for boarding. Unless you have a reservation (for an extra fee), boarding is on a first come - first served basis, and it is possible to have an extended wait of several sailings on busy days, if there isn't enough room on the next ferry/ferries. Note that engine idling is prohibited in the line-up. There was no waiting this time, and so we are boarding Coastal Renaissance.
7. Nanaimo it is.
8. Ferry workers direct who goes where. A sign requests parking within 0.6 m of the vehicle in front of you, to save space. For safety reasons, staying in your vehicle (or returning to your vehicle, until the ferry is near the destination) on the lower decks (2 and 3) is not allowed during the passage. Deck 4 is the only vehicle deck where it's permitted to do so.
9. We are now heading up the stairs to check out Coastal Renaissance ferry.
10. Deck 7 is the top (sun) deck. We are at the back of the ship observing departure from Horseshoe Bay.
11. Here is the line-up where we waited to board the ferry.
12. West Vancouver's Sewell's Marina is adjacent to the ferry terminal.
13. Good-bye, Horseshoe Bay.
14. By the way, it does look like a horseshoe. Here is our 2009 photo of Horseshoe Bay, when we hiked Howe Sound Crest South Trail. A ferry can be seen docked at the terminal.
15. Standing in the back allows to see the same views with much less wind than in the front.
16. To avoid wind altogether, there is a covered sitting area on the sun deck.
17. Many passengers took advantage of the fine weather on the upper deck.
18. Approaching the windy front end.
19-20. Children had a blast playing in 40 km/h+ wind throughout the trip.
21. Many passengers enjoyed the covered area.
22. The other side of the upper deck.
23. BC Ferries logo on the right side of the upper deck.
24. And look who said hello to us during this sailing.
25. But of course, our good old friend, Queen of Capilano, making yet another 25-minute-long voyage between Bowen Island and Horseshoe Bay.
26. A panorama of Gulf Islands between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay.
Our Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay trip report Continues on Page 2.
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