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Old 04-19-2017, 11:15 AM   #1
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Washington State Ferries

We're filling out our summer camping schedule and in early August we plan to go from Anacortes to Port Angeles Washington.It'll be the first time we'll be taking our 19' Escape on the ferry. For inlanders from Idaho, riding the ferry is a real treat - but we've never hauled a trailer on the ferry. Is there anything we should know in advance? Thanks for any advice.
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Old 04-19-2017, 11:40 AM   #2
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For inlanders from Idaho, riding the ferry is a real treat - but we've never hauled a trailer on the ferry. Is there anything we should know in advance? Thanks for any advice.
Are you taking the ferry from Anacortes through the San Juan Islands to Sidney and then from Victoria to Port Angeles? or from Coupeville to Port Townsend?
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/wsfroutemap.pdf

Make reservations if possible! You will be considered over height and over length so you have to go in a special area on the ferry. You will also need to shut off the propane on your trailer.
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Old 04-19-2017, 11:42 AM   #3
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Is there anything we should know in advance?
It's important to make reservations a day or two in advance, especially during the summer. It's been a couple of years since I took a trailer on that ferry but I don't remember anything special. The Keystone ferry is an easy on/off ferry--as good as it gets. I think you're supposed to shut off your propane during the half-hour ride but I always wonder if everyone does.

Enjoy the ride. On a clear day, it just doesn't get any better. And remember to wave to the campers at the harbor-side campground. (I might be one of them. )

Edited: I just assumed you were heading to PA via Coupeville and Port Townsend.
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Old 04-19-2017, 11:49 AM   #4
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Thank you Karen. Yes - we are planning to take the Coupeville to Port Townsend ferry.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:14 PM   #5
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And there is a nice campground right by the ferry at Fort Casey State Park (Coupeville terminal). We stay there the day before the ferry ride and watch the ferries come in and out during the day. Last Sept there was no food on that ferry but they solved the problem before the next trip in Feb 2017.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:33 PM   #6
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As a fairly frequent ferry rider a couple of items. You will need to ensure your propane is shut off. They will give you a tag to put on your tanks. Also, for the Coupeville / Port Townsend Ferry keep an eye on the status of the ferry. It does get cancelled for tides, which they do advertise in advance. It's one of the more often cancelled routes due to weather as well. That said, it's a beautiful ride from Whidbey Island to the Olympic Peninsula .
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:46 PM   #7
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That's good to know. When the ferry doesn't run because of tide levels, how much advance notice could one expect? Off hand, I don't see a good alternative. I need to study the options just in case.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:59 PM   #8
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That's good to know. When the ferry doesn't run because of tide levels, how much advance notice could one expect? Off hand, I don't see a good alternative. I need to study the options just in case.
They have a good idea of which sailings will be cancelled based on the differential between high and low tides.

The following webpage shows tidal sailing cancellations until the end of June:
WSDOT - Ferries - Schedule: Spring 2017 Tidal Cancellations for Port Townsend / Coupeville
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:01 PM   #9
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After delivery of our 21 on the 5th of April we took the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend. Real easy to do. We were cued up next to a semi and when the ferry was ready to load the semi went on first and we were second. When we arrived at Port Townsend we drove off in the same order.

Real easy, and it was a bright and sunny day. VERY windy though. Waves were splashing over the front.

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Old 04-19-2017, 01:06 PM   #10
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That's good to know. When the ferry doesn't run because of tide levels, how much advance notice could one expect? Off hand, I don't see a good alternative. I need to study the options just in case.
Cancellations due to low tides are known well in advance. Weather (high winds and/or fog)? Not so much. But in the summer, it's usually not a problem. Even in the winter, it's infrequent (unless you're the one waiting in line, of course ).

There are alternatives. The longest is to go around Puget Sound and up Hood Canal. The shorter alternative is to catch the Bainbridge Island ferry out of Seattle (seldom cancelled due to weather) and drive across the Hood Canal bridge. I've done the latter once (high winds in February) and it's no big deal...other than facing Seattle traffic.
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:08 PM   #11
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They have a good idea of which sailings will be cancelled based on the differential between high and low tides.

The following webpage shows tidal sailing cancellations until the end of June:
WSDOT - Ferries - Schedule: Spring 2017 Tidal Cancellations for Port Townsend / Coupeville
You could forecast potential cancellations in August based on the tide tables.

You can see from the tide tables for Keystone that there are large tidal swings from April 25th to 30th and there are ferry cancellations on those days. The difference between high and low tide in the morning is ~10' on April 30th which would create some significant currents at the entrance to Keystone harbour.
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:11 PM   #12
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If you ride low and tend to bottom out at times, then I'd make sure the reservation was not for an extreme low tide. (If there are tidal cancellations, those are usually as an extreme tide is going in or coming out- not at the time of the low, but you would want to check the time of the low if there are tidal cancellations.) Other than that, easy peasy, no need to worry, but reservations are required and you are supposed to arrive between 30 and 45 minutes before the sailing. Tide cancellations will show up when you book but weather cancellations are whenever they happen. Generally not in August.
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:36 PM   #13
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gudmut, All good advice here, especially the reservations 2-3 days in advance. Last April, we took our 3 day old Escape out for this ferry ride. It is fantastic! The check-in booth coordinator put the two travel trailers in the front row. Through the windshield, you can see the smile on Debbie's face:
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Old 04-19-2017, 03:11 PM   #14
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Cancellations due to low tides are known well in advance. Weather (high winds and/or fog)? Not so much. But in the summer, it's usually not a problem. Even in the winter, it's infrequent (unless you're the one waiting in line, of course ).

There are alternatives. The longest is to go around Puget Sound and up Hood Canal. The shorter alternative is to catch the Bainbridge Island ferry out of Seattle (seldom cancelled due to weather) and drive across the Hood Canal bridge. I've done the latter once (high winds in February) and it's no big deal...other than facing Seattle traffic.
Or take the Edmonds - Kingston ferry and avoid going to Seattle. And it's a shorter route from Kingston to the Hood Canal bridge (plus you'll go through scenic Port Gamble).
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Old 04-19-2017, 03:53 PM   #15
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Or take the Edmonds - Kingston ferry and avoid going to Seattle. And it's a shorter route from Kingston to the Hood Canal bridge (plus you'll go through scenic Port Gamble).
But no reservations and waits up to 3 hrs.

That's what I love about the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry.
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Old 04-19-2017, 04:49 PM   #16
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Also, reservations are easy online. The wsdot website is intuitive and easy to navigate. Know the total length of your hitched rig as you will be charged by the foot. I believe the fee is $1.25 per foot. Our 39 ft. total length cost about $49.00 usd.
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:30 PM   #17
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But no reservations and waits up to 3 hrs.

That's what I love about the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry.
Very true, but in another post the Seattle Bainbridge Island ferry was mentioned and it does not accept reservations plus it's in the heart of downtown Seattle with all its traffic.
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