If the ferry line-ups are anything to go by, we’re in for a bumper summer here on Gabriola.  Last year was busy enough, but early signs are that ferry traffic could be another 5% up on last summer – with much of that extra traffic trying to squeeze onto ferries that are already bursting at the seams.

For residents, businesses and visitors alike this brings with it the frustration of long waits and progressive delays to the ferry as the crews do their best to fill every last inch of deckspace.  So, with some important updates since we last published this post, 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 stop behind the hatched area and leave this space clear for emergency vehicles and those medical patients who have been issued an authorisation for priority boarding. (note that the “Stop” sign will be moved soon to the start of the hatched area)
  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! Dog owners should take their pets (on a leash) and find some shade for them.
  4. At the junction with Taylor Bay Road, the new road construction has removed the steepest part of the hill, so please don’t leave gaps there any more.  Take extra care here if you get out of your car, the road shoulder drops away steeply!
  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 on the right 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. RCMP Officers regularly patrol this section of road and may issue violation tickets to drivers making illegal U-turns.
  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 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 – stand away from the traffic!

Remember also that ferries from Gabriola are always busiest during the morning – if you can, leave your journey until later in the day when ferries are less busy. Check out our Best Times to Travel page for a handy guide to which ferries are likely to be full. If you don’t need to take your car, don’t! Think transit; think Gertie

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  1. Where does one learn about traveling with livestock (for example, multiple sailing waits or a spot in hot sun can be dangerous)?

    1. Hello Alice

      This is what the BC Ferries website has to say about travelling with livestock…..

      “Are there any special considerations for livestock?”

      All vehicles carrying poultry (e.g. chickens/turkeys) and any older style, non self contained livestock vehicle are required to spread drop sheets around the vehicle, both at the terminal and on board the ferry. If weather conditions make it difficult to put down the drop sheets please express the need for assistance to the agent at check in.

      Other special needs, such as the opportunity to park in building lees to limit exposure to sun/wind or on a level parking area, may be expressed to the agent during check-in. Be aware that at many terminals there are no areas of shade, wind protection or level parking available.”

      Our best advice surely must be to aim for a sailing that is typically less busy (such as the first sailing of the day, or sailings after 3pm) and park in the shade by the turnaround area (or by the “one sailing wait” sign until such time as the ferry is in, or the line-up reaches that point – but make sure that you’re not preventing large vehicles from using the turnaround area. If BCF can offer any better advice, we’d be glad to share it on this site. Look for sailings coloured green or yellow on our “Best Times to Travel” page

  2. Please make paper copies of this advice to hand out. The people leaving big gaps need to know how annoying that is for people at the end of the line.

    1. And give these copies out at the ticket booth in Nanaimo and have them available at Village Foods, other shops and B&B’s.

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