A Travellerspoint blog

Haida Gwaii #1 of #3 - BC Ferry Service

Night sailings, August 21 and August 24, high cost, relatively poor service, relatively high costs

rain 17 °C

If you want to go to Haida Gwaii, and we did really want to go there, you have to take a ferry. It is not easy, nor inexpensive, to get to Haida Gwaii. The islands are 200 kilometers off the coast of British Columbia (see map)


The ferry is run by the BC Ferry Corporation, which does not have a very good reputation.

Our five intrepid travellers, George and Karmen Reid, Debra Duncan and Jenny and I planned this months ago.

We arranged to store our trailers at the Prince Rupert R/V Park, for $15 a night ($45 for three nights). The plan was to take just one car and the five of us. We booked our trip back in February, as we had reservations a the Copper Beech Guest House, in Masset, and needed to ensure our arrival.

Our total cost for the two ferry trips was $1,321.50, broken down into the following: Car $336.50, five passengers $475.00, and cabins, $510.00.

It is interesting to note that these are night sailings, so we check out of the R/V park, store our trailers and extra vehicle by 11:00am. The ferry sails at 10:00pm, and we can't board until 8:00pm, so we have 9 hours to kill just before boarding. We did a 5 k hike to Butze Falls, had lunch in downtown Prince Rupert, wandered the town for the afternoon. We had supper at Dolly's Fish and Chips, down in the historic Cow Bay part of town, and badda bing, badda boom, it was time to board the ferry.

This is our ship, the Northern Adventure:


We boarded at 8:00pm, got our assigned rooms and promptly turned in for the night, as arrival at Skidegate is 6:00am. As we were walking down the hall, a veteran of this crossing suggested we get our showers over with before the 10:00pm departure. Wise words. We showered, met George and Karmen on deck to watch the rest of the loading and the departure. Deb turned in for the night. This ferry has only one set of doors, at the rear of the ship, for loading. We watched in fascination as a full sized semi and trailer backed down the 200 foot, one lane ramp onto the ship.

Once we sailed, on time, we found out why you shower while the ship is tied to the dock. The shower stall is small, and the ship rocked and rolled, all night long. The engine is a bit noisy, so sleep is difficult. It didn't help when they made an announcement at 11:30pm that so-and-so needed to go to the car deck to move his vehicle.

At 5:00am you are awakened to get ready to depart the ship, at about 5:45am. We disembarked, in the dark onto Haida Gwaii, in the rain no less. We quickly made our way to Queen Charlotte City and waited for a breakfast restaurant to open at 7:00am. Our guest house has a check-in time of 3:00pm so we have most of a day to use before we get our rooms.

Return Trip: August 24, 11:00pm sailing, 5:00am arrival.

We were out of our guest house at 11:00am and spent a lovely day working our way back towards Skidegate, from Masset. We walked on beaches, had a shore lunch, hiked a great 5 kilometer trail, visited a Haida Heritage site, watched a totem pole being carved, checked out Haida boats, made from a single tree, went to a pub for a drink, then a supper at Dinner with the Kings...lovely. This dinner will be covered in more detail in post #3.



Frogs play roles in their lives and this one is on a pole carved in 1978, by Haida legendary carver, Bill Reid:


We boarded this time at 9:00pm, departed at 11:00pm, and booted it across the 225 kilometer route to arrive at 4:45am. It was almost not worth it to try to sleep, for just a 5 hour crossing. Many locals forego the cabins and sleep on the floor in sleeping bags.

Once we arrived back in Prince Rupert, we dropped our buddy Debra Duncan back at the ferry terminal for her sailing back to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. We then proceeded up to the R/V park, where George and Karmen picked up their Airstream and promptly headed off for a two day stay in Stewart BC


Jenny and I went to McDonalds for breakfast (the only thing open at 5:00am in Prince Rupert) to await daytime. We had to reload our car and ready TaJ for the road. We scooted out of there at 7:00am and ended the day in Smithers BC.

As a lot of people in BC say, there is not much you can do with ferries, but imagine life without them. A necessary evil. Wiothout the Northern Adventure we would not have made it to Haida Gwaii.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 17:34 Archived in Canada Tagged haida_gwaii bc_ferries prince_rupert skidegate

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Hi Jenny and Tony
Is there no daytime ferry crossing?

by mary klimek

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.