Walking my kayak onto a Nanaimo ferry: Horseshoe Bay vs. Tsawwassen

AM

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Hey folks,

Assuming that non-essential travel is allowed this summer, I would like to cart my kayak onto a BC Ferry to Nanaimo as a foot passenger. I’ve done the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay trip that way (years ago), but I’ve never travelled to Nanaimo this way. My options are Tsawwassen-Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay. Does anyone have recent experience of either of those routes and advice to share?

And going the other way, does anyone have relevant experience at Duke Point and Departure Bay?

This is the most detailed information I can find about Horseshoe Bay and it’s pretty old:


Thanks for any help you can give!

Cheers,
Andrew
 

mick_allen

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Horseshoe Bay - no recent experience, but I think I heard that Horsehoe Bay is a little more convoluted going down the long passage and then a 90deg chainlink door-gate than before - but still doable. Would make sense to get there a bit early to try out/demand alternatives.
 

AlphaEcho

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Jan 24, 2010
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Quadra Island, BC
Horseshoe Bay - The terminal is undergoing renovations, even though the BC Ferries project page has not been updated with final design. You can see the feedback reports from the consultation process that ended last fall. That said, I walked my kayak onto the ferry in late 2019 and had friends use it on the Labour Day weekend last fall. The gate opens at an angle to the walkway, so you have a dog-leg to deal with right away. It helps if there is someone who can hold the gate for you.

Departure Bay - The terminal is easy to get/out of. Again, there is a gate where it helps if someone can hold it open for you while you walk your boat in/out. The Brechin boat launch is only about 400m away from the terminal.

Tsawwassen - There is a gate on the south side of the terminal building (past the exit doors for arrivals). You need to ask the counter people to buzz you in. As there are many berths, make sure you find the correct walkway through the terminal to your berth.

Duke Point - I have walked on/off at this terminal, but by bicycle only, not with my kayak. It's a steep roadway up/down to the main deck ramp whether you are arriving or departing. Be prepared to haul a heavy boat uphill and have a strategy that will keep your boat from rolling back down so you can take rests. You will want to consult Google Maps satellite view to understand how to access the walking path from the road. I am told that it is possible to portage your boat down to the shore, but it's a carry and not a roll. You will want to prepare to unload your gear for that. The shore is a low-gradient mudflat. You will want to arrange your arrival or departure to coincide with a high-tide.
 
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AlphaEcho

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Curious: have you thought about Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay, then paddle a route along Salt Spring - Prevost - Galiano - Valdes - Gabriola, and then Duke Pt - Tsawwassen?
 

AM

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@AlphaEcho , thank you! This was exactly the sort of summary of first hand experience I was hoping someone could provide. Very much appreciated!

Re: your suggested rout. That does sound fun, and I have done a route that saw me walk off in Swartz Bay, putz around the Gulf Islands, and walk on at Long Harbour on Saltspring. But in this case I am being picked up by a buddy so that we can do a trip further afield.

Again, great info.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

JensVS

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Jun 17, 2021
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New Westminster
Curious: have you thought about Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay, then paddle a route along Salt Spring - Prevost - Galiano - Valdes - Gabriola, and then Duke Pt - Tsawwassen?
This is more or less the route we're planning. Have you done this and do you have any tips to share for two beginner paddlers?
 

AM

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Hi @JensVS , take a look at this recent thread discussing this very route. Lots of good ideas here:


Cheers,
Andrew
 
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