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Old 02-23-2013, 10:08 AM   #16
THogland
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Ferry adventure info

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Originally Posted by Steve907AK View Post
Does anyone have any recommendations regarding the quickest ferry to the lower 48? I've looked at the schedule online and it seems a bit confusing. Looking to go this summer but I want to get down there as quickly as possible on the ferry. Any recommendations? Thanks
Having done all this research over multiple days earlier this month, I've got some info I can share.

I was planning a RT, starting in Wasilla and ending in Salmon, ID (just south of Missoula, MT), so my route was biased towards driving the eastern side of the Alcan. The assumptions I used were that I could ride 500 miles per day and spend $100/day on hotels, meals, etc. on average. (Round numbers are nice for planning ) Leaving July 1st, coming back the 21st (i,.e. either get on a ferry or it the Alcan heading home, vacation over).

Whittier-WA is a twice-per-month deal, on one ferry (and it isn't a fast ferry). Leaves Whittier on the 1st, arrives in WA the 6th; leaves WA the 7th, arrives Whittier the 14th is roughly the schedule. (2nd half of the month, add 15 days to those dates. Results left as an exercise for the reader ) Stops in Yakutat, Juneau and Ketchikan, nowhere else. (So, if you try to add a fast ferry leg, you'll probably end up waiting someplace for a connection.) If you're going round-trip, you pay the vehicle fee and no rider fee, so about $750 each way. (Cabins were another $500-ish.) One way travel adds about $700 to that as well, since you lose the rider discount.

Ferry left late on the 1st and got into WA about 9am the 6th, with ~800 miles to get to Salmon, so I still had two days to go, and would get to Salmon early the 8th; assuming my 500-mile riding average held up, I was leaving Great Falls, MT the morning of the 6th with about 350 miles to go, so would arrive early the 7th.

Total cost (using the numbers above, plus 40mpg and $5/gal average for gas) was about $1100 Wasilla-Salmon on the ferry+interstate, and about $850 riding the whole way (plus one less travel day).

Now, I'm sure *everyone* is yelling at their screens about "unrealistic estimates", and you're correct - guessing you'll be able to ride 500 miles per day on the Alcan with zero problems or delays is slightly optimistic. One day of muddy construction, or a flat that you can't repair, or shitty weather, or whatever, and that extra day is gone, plus it adds $100 to the cost of riding (at my also-slightly-optimistic $100/day average for meals/hotel). Or make it 400 miles/day, and you've added a day to it as well. The ferry is more money, and a bit slower, but it's GOING to arrive at 9 that morning, rain or shine. No flats, no construction, just plugging along at 13 knots. Oh, and you arrive rested and ready to ride. On the other hand, you can start your Alcan ride any day you want, not when the ferry schedule dictates.

I tried shuffling departures, connections, etc. and all I seemed to do was add long delays in the middle of the ferry trip. Didn't manage to change the length of the trip. If you're willing to ride to Haines, you can shorten it a day, assuming you can leave this morning and catch the ferry tomorrow morning, 750 miles away. Optimistic, again, and it didn't save much $$...

If you're trying to end up in Seattle (or close), then the ferry and Alcan are almost identical in time and cost. But, I wasn't trying to get to Seattle, so I didn't do any hard-core number crunching for that route, just some quick estimating.

Hope that helps. If you've got any questions feel free to PM me.

Tom@Wasilla
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:13 PM   #17
marbee40
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Bringing four wheels north in June on Ferry

Doing the family adventure in June. Flying to Kansas to pick up my new 4x4 cage (long story, special order). Driving west via Moab, GSL, Bonnie Salt Flats, Bend, OR, and a few other stops. Heading to Bellingham to catch the ferry north. Due to my current employment, I'll get to ride for free, to include up to 19' of vehicle (perks, people, perks!). The bride and Jr have to pay their own way. We'll hop off in Haines and finish the drive from there to see a bit of the highway.

When we figured in costs of driving the Cassier vs Ferry (to include my freebie ride), it damn near equaled out! Oh well, we'll bring our new DSLR and a couple good books.

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Old 03-29-2015, 09:48 AM   #18
THogland
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Driving vs Riding

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Originally Posted by marbee40 View Post
When we figured in costs of driving the Cassier vs Ferry (to include my freebie ride), it damn near equaled out! Oh well, we'll bring our new DSLR and a couple good books.

J
(I just re-did all my math again - I'm planning to head down to CA/UT/ID in August...)

Now, driving instead of riding makes a difference. I planned 400 miles/day riding, and 600 driving. But, I'll get 18 mpg driving and 40+ riding. I can pull off anywhere and sleep in the truck, plus carry food along to eat whenever I get hungry, unlike on the bike. It's 4 days ANC-SEA driving instead of 5 on the ferry Whittier-SEA. Haines-SEA is almost the same for the ferry due to all the stops it makes - the Whittier boat only stops 2-3 times.

Math - 2400 miles at 18mpg and $3.50/gal = $467 fuel, plus 3 nights at $100 and about $200 food (between the ice chest and a few restaurants) is just under $1100. 2400 miles at 40mpg and $3.50/gal = $210 fuel. But, 5 nights and $50/day in food (lack of space for a big cooler ) adds $800 onto that - a bit over $1000.

The ferry from Whittier is $1500 one way, and from Haines is $1300. That's a vehicle and driver, plus one of the micro-cabins to lock up the cooler Still have to eat, which means either carry food or buy it there (expensive). On the plus side you arrive completely rested and ready to go, with zero car problems, weather delays or flat tires. The inside passage is *gorgeous*, and all you have to do is sit there and watch it pass by.

So, the ferry is more money, but restful and without travel problems. The drive is much faster, depending on how fast you want to go. The ride is the best way to have an adventure - really experience the trip.

What's the objective? Me, I'm almost 100% riding round-trip, unless I do something stupid like buy a bike down there and do a fly-n-ride. I'm going to set the GoPro to take a picture every minute or three and crunch it into a video showing 7000 miles of V-twin goodness

(FWIW, if I could take the ferry for free, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If you'd like to sponsor me, send me a PM )
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Old 04-06-2015, 05:57 PM   #19
tomdubz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve907AK View Post
Does anyone have any recommendations regarding the quickest ferry to the lower 48? I've looked at the schedule online and it seems a bit confusing. Looking to go this summer but I want to get down there as quickly as possible on the ferry. Any recommendations? Thanks
Schedule isn't hard once you figure out which one to look at. Kennicott is your tub of choice.

http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/doc/...ssGulf_S15.pdf

key to abbreviations and the rest of the choices here:
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/schedule_pdf.shtml

and don't get a cabin. this is way more fun:
https://www.google.com/search?q=alas...CgQsAQ&dpr=1.1
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Old 04-12-2015, 11:32 AM   #20
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Ive done the Ferry. The first day is "wow, look at that..." The next 4 days are suicidal. IMO, life isn't about cost effectiveness and whats the most expedient way to (fill in the blank). Do yourself a favor. Drive or ride. Meet people, talk to people, take the road less traveled. Leave yourself, your fears, you're time tables and your maps. Just point south and go.
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:25 AM   #21
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I've ridden the ferry twice, once on the way down in summer with my dad in 1993, and once when I moved up here in 2012. Came up the first weekend in April, so either the bike or the rider was free. Probably because it was still snowing. In both cases, the ferry rides were some of the most memorable parts of both trips. I actually met the girl who became my wife in the bar on the Matanuska, both headed to Fairbanks to work for the summer and still here 3 years(!) later.


That being said, I wouldn't want to ride the ferry on the opening leg of a moto trip, when I'm fresh and still anxious and happy to ride. After 3 weeks on the road? I'll take my balcony suite (aka sleeping under the stars on the top deck) and enjoy the rest and relaxation.
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:36 AM   #22
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I guess the ferry's budget issues are not getting much news time out side of Southeast. The new Governor Walker took the axe to the operating budget and the ferry system is looking to cancel sailings and park boats for the summer season. The last news update was this would effect over 9000 reservations that have been bought and paid for.
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:11 PM   #23
Tom S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glacier Pilot View Post
... The new Governor Walker took the axe to the operating budget and the ferry system
Can't lay it all on Walker. I don't think the Gubner can do that by himself anyway.
He proposed a cut, but .....

Feb 26
http://www.adn.com/article/20150226/...roposed-budget
Quote:
The Alaska ferry system, which just persuaded Gov. Bill Walker to restore a 6 percent budget cut he proposed, has now been hit with a proposed 10 percent cut by a legislative subcommittee.
March 24
http://www.adn.com/article/20150324/...allenge-senate
Quote:
Ferries face new budget challenge in Senate
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:38 AM   #24
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I've used the ferry system for some pretty good tours in the SE for the last five yr. and am planning to do it again this summer. I'm not sure but I think last year was the first time, I being the driver, of the vehicle had to pay. I usually start out from Haines which is about 700+ mi from the house, I found the connecting from Whittier was just to much trouble. And the ride into Haines is beautiful.

Last year I rode the PCH, but came down with double pneumonia in Eureka Cal. and spent 8 days in the hospital. When the doctor informed me I couldn't ride home, my wife contacted the ferry system and explained the situation and we got refunded the return trip that very day


Quote:
Glacier Pilot I guess the ferry's budget issues are not getting much news time out side of Southeast. The new Governor Walker took the axe to the operating budget and the ferry system is looking to cancel sailings and park boats for the summer season. The last news update was this would effect over 9000 reservations that have been bought and paid for.
I wonder about the lawsuits that would cause??

I'm still planning on using the ferry this summer
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:05 AM   #25
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There are going to be many tea carts tipped over in the coming months. Somethings must change and every change will bringout unhappiness in some.
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:35 AM   #26
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My Dad has a ferry from Haines to Bellingham on Aug 8th, and after seeing Glacier Pilots post yesterday I had him call about his reservation. They told him that there are no cancellations.
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Old 04-14-2015, 12:04 PM   #27
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A lot of folks talk a lot of doom, just make your plans and sort it out if you have to. It's all part of the Adventure
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