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Trip 221 - July 12 & 16, 2021 (Monday and Friday)

BC Ferries Trip

Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo - Departure Bay (and back)

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Distance from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal: Approximately 17 km via Lions Gate Bridge, Marine Drive, Taylor Way and Highway 1 West.

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.

Related Websites: BC Ferries - Official Website, Coastal Renaissance Ferry Info - BC Ferries.

Other Ferry Trips: Francois Lake Ferry Trip, Bowen Island Ferry Trip.


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 the latest ticket prices.

The first two pages of this trip report cover the sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo - Departure Bay. The last page shows the return sailing we took on July 16th.

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.

BC Ferry Coastal Renaissance

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.

TransCanada Highway 1 West near Horseshoe Bay

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.

BC Ferries Horseshoe Bay Terminal Payment Area

5. You have to pay before you play.

Horseshoe Bay Terminal Ferry Payment Kiosk

6. Having purchased your ticket, 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.

Boarding Coastal Renaissance Ferry at Horseshoe Bay Terminal

7. Nanaimo it is.

BC Ferry Coastal Renaissance Boarding

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.

Deck 2 Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry

9. We are now heading up the stairs to check out Coastal Renaissance ferry.

Inside Coastal Renaissance

10. Deck 7 is the top (sun) deck. We are at the back of the ship observing departure from Horseshoe Bay.

Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal View From Coastal Renaissance

11. Here is the line-up where we waited to board the ferry.

Car Line-up at Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal

12. West Vancouver's Sewell's Marina is adjacent to the ferry terminal.

Sewell Marina West Vancouver British Columbia Canada

13. Good-bye, Horseshoe Bay.

BC Ferry Coastal Renaissance Leaving 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.

Horseshoe Bay View from Above

15. Standing in the back allows to see the same views with much less wind than in the front.

Sailing on a Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo

16. To avoid wind altogether, there is a covered sitting area on the sun deck.

Costal Renaissance Ferry Upper Deck Enclosed Space

17. Many passengers took advantage of the fine weather on the upper deck.

Upper Deck of Coastal Renaissance Ferry

18. Approaching the windy front end.

Coastal Renaissance Ferry Upper Deck Front

19-20. Children had a blast playing in 40 km/h+ wind throughout the trip.

Children Playing on Upper Deck of Ferry Coastal Renaissance

View from Coastal Renaissance Ferry Upper Deck

21. Many passengers enjoyed the covered area.

Coastal Renaissance Ferry Upper Deck Front Enclosed Area

22. The other side of the upper deck.

Sun Deck Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry

23. BC Ferries logo on the right side of the upper deck.

BC Ferries Logo on Coastal renaissance BC ferry

24. And look who said hello to us during this sailing.

Queen of Capilano BC Ferry seen from Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry

25. But of course, our good old friend, Queen of Capilano, making yet another 25-minute-long voyage between Bowen Island and Horseshoe Bay.

BC Ferry Queen of Capilano

26. A panorama of Gulf Islands between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay.

BC Gulf Islands

Our Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay trip report Continues on Page 2.

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ihikebc.com Trip 221 - BC Ferries Trip (Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo - Departure Bay and back) Page 1 of 3