The islander’s guide to catching a ferry on Gabriola

When summer approaches, our ferry gets busier – and with that comes longer line-ups at busy times of the day.

As Gabriolans, we’re hardened to that, of course, but with many newcomers and visitors to the island here are some hints to make queueing for the ferry on Gabriola safer and less stressful for everyone:

  1. The ferry line-up starts opposite the Skol pub on North Road and extends up the hill, then round the corner into Taylor Bay Road. If you’re first in line, please pull forward to the stop line and leave space in front for motorcycles and emergency vehicles, which will be loaded onto the ferry first.
  2. The ferry has space for about 70 vehicles (fewer if there are large trucks or trailers on board) and a sign on Taylor Bay Road indicates the point at which that capacity may be reached and you may find yourself waiting for the next ferry. The position of the sign assumes that there will be no gaps in the ferry line-up.
  3. When you join the line-up, please park close to the vehicle in front of you – don’t leave a large gap, as that will make the line-up longer for everyone. Sunshine or Shade – please park within 1 metre of the vehicle in front. If it’s hot, open your windows or take a walk!
  4. At the junction with Taylor Bay Road, we understand you may not want to park on the steepest part of the hill, but please park as close as possible to the junction and make sure you can see the vehicle in front of you in the line-up. Don’t get left behind because you didn’t notice the line-up had moved!
  5. Large trucks may wait in the oversize vehicle bay on North Road. If they arrived before you, please let them into the line-up when the ferry starts loading.
  6. Once the line-up extends into Taylor Bay Road, please use the turning bay to join the line-up. Don’t U-turn on the highway – and don’t block the turning bay.
  7. If the line-up extends beyond the turning bay, please follow the signs to the next U-turn point at the junction with Ivory Way. U-turns along Taylor Bay Road are dangerous and you may cause an accident if you ignore the warning signs. Illegal U-turns may also get you a traffic violation ticket.
  8. If the line-up reaches the narrow bridge at Mallett Creek, please observe the “No stopping on pavement” signs and don’t park on the bridge.
  9. On exceptionally busy days, the line-up can extend as far as Ivory Way. If it does, don’t block the turning bay (or the entrance to the campground) – go down Ivory Way to the turning point and join the line-up in Ivory Way. Don’t queue on Taylor Bay Road beyond the campground.
  10. Stay safe and remember the five golden rules:
  • Don’t leave unnecessary gaps in the line-up
  • Don’t let your engine idle for long periods
  • Don’t U-turn on the highway, you may cause an accident
  • Don’t open your doors without checking for passing traffic (and bikes)
  • Don’t stand in the roadway for that chat – stay out of the traffic!

Remember also that ferries from Gabriola are always busiest during the morning – especially in the summer months. There are several ways you can make your journey less stressful:

  • If you can, leave your journey until later in the day when ferries are less busy
  • Visit our webpage for the Best Times to Travel and print off our handy guide.
  • Check out the Gabriola Ferry Cameras before you set off
  • Visit the BC Ferries website for any Service Notices affecting the Gabriola ferry
  • Allow plenty of time if you must catch a particular ferry or have a connection to make.
  • If you don’t need to take your car, don’t! Think transit; think Gertie
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2 thoughts on “The islander’s guide to catching a ferry on Gabriola

  1. How the hell are you supposed to know when large trucks arrive in the “over sized vehicle bay”. I had a truck come up beside me as I was loading, no turn signal and just statrted to turn against me, cutting into the lane. He was going to hit me, if I did not let him in! What the heck. I had no idea if he had waited in the lot or not. This system of large trucks just cutting in does not work! I have always cared about our ferry loading order, but that just sucked!

    • I think we all recognise that the present arrangements for managing ferry traffic are less than satisfactory – and the fact that the Oversize Vehicle Bay is not visible either from the ferry or from the Ferry Cams only makes matters worse. Two years ago, the Ministry of Transportation provided additional signage and a second turn-round point on Taylor Bay Road, yet there are still drivers U-turning to guarantee their place in the line-up. Traffic arrangements are regularly discussed at FAC meetings, and it seems sensible that we put this back on the agenda for further examination with BC Ferries in May.

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