Sunday, July 31, 2011

Haines to Skagway Ferry, on to Whitehorse

Don and I had an early dinner at Mosey’s Mexican Cantina in Haines prior to taking the 8:30 pm ferry to Skagway last night. Our waitress had obviously been to the Fair!


The salt shaker was appropriate for this ‘neck of the woods.’ Notice the guacamole in the background – yummy!


Don had tamales and chile verde.


I had chile rellenos.


It almost tasted like we were in Arizona or New Mexico. This was really good Mexican food!

We went back to the Elks Lodge and finished packing up, then bought diesel on the way to the Ferry. When we checked in, we had the same agent we’d talked to a couple of days earlier, Peter, a pretty nice guy. He booked us in with a 36 ft. motorhome (not 40 ft. with bikes on the back, as we’d originally said, since Don had moved the bikes to the car and there was a flat rate for it), and no requirement to fold in the mirrors as we’d been told on the phone by Angie. And the width of the motorhome wasn’t an issue, as a fellow RVer had emphatically told us a few days earlier. (Note: the answers to questions depend on who you talk to!) With Don’s Senior rate ($23) and my regular fare ($31, still a few months short of that magic age), the car ($41) and the motorhome ($119), our total was $214. Shadow traveled free.

Peter asked who would be driving the motorhome (we saved $ by unhitching the car), and was pretty impressed that I was. He said it was only the second time he’d ever seen a woman drive the motorhome and the man drive the car when a couple was traveling together. (I imagine he’s seen lots of single women driving their own motorhomes or other RVs.) We were assigned lanes in the staging area and we lined up accordingly. Our MH is second on the left; the car’s behind the red one – see the kayaks.


We watched the ferry Malaspina arrive and line up the car deck with the ramp, then the end of the ramp was lowered to connect with the boat.




The motorhome ahead of me was a 43 or 45 ft. with a tag axle. He had to back up before clearing the ramp in order to make the hard left turn onto the boat. I’ll bet that was hard on his hitch, tow bar and mud flap.


I smugly smiled to myself because I knew I’d have no problem making the turn with a 36-footer! And I didn’t. We were directed to the stern of the boat, then made 2 sharp right turns to park on the port side. Again, the big rig had to back up several times to make these turns, but I didn’t. We were moved in tight.




When I left the motorhome, Shadow was supremely unhappy about having to stay there by himself! But there are rules against pets going to the upper levels.

Don was one of the last ones loaded, as they went from the high numbers (I was in lane #9) to the low (he was in lane #2). I watched him from the upper deck of the ferry.



We really enjoyed the ferry ride, and considered it as a new adventure. If you want to compare the cost to that of driving the longer route, it was about $123 more than if we had driven the 250 miles (estimating mileage and diesel prices), but it saved about 4.5 hours of driving (2.5 hrs versus 7), including some construction and rough road that we avoided. We thought it was a good trade-off.

As we moved away from the dock we spotted a couple of whales, but I missed getting a picture of them. Here are some of the things we did capture by camera on the trip. We almost witnessed a sunset as we left Skagway.


The ferry’s stack bears the stars of the state flag.


Our captain backed the boat away from the dock using outside controls.


Notice sunshine on distant mountains.


The Volendam cruise ship looked like it might be heading into Skagway, but we didn’t see it there.


As we pulled into the harbor, ours was the only ship! Cruise ships probably arrived later, as they typically dock during the night and the passengers would have time to visit Skagway the following day.


I checked out the route I’d take with the motorhome as we moved closer to the dock. Hmmm…first we go down the boat ramp onto a wooden ramp, then turn left sharply to go up another ramp to land.


This turned out to be another challenge to the motorhome in front of me, so I patiently waited while ferry staff did their best to help the big rig to move over the ramps, scraping its rear parts again a couple of times. I tried to suppress my smugness, but one of the workers even commented, “You won’t have any trouble with this.” And I said it’s nice to have a 36 ft. versus a 43 ft. rig!

We arrived at the Garden City RV Park in Skagway about 10:15 pm. Tired, we just plugged into electricity and hit the bed. We experienced something new since we’ve been in Alaska – it got dark! I’m not used to driving at night, so I really depended on my headlights. And I had to turn on ceiling lights inside to set things up.

This morning, we had to track down the owner of the RV park to pay for our site. It would have been easy just to drive away, but that’s not what we do.

We arrived at the Pioneer RV Park in Whitehorse around noon Yukon (Pacific) time. When we parked near Marilyn and Larry Forbes, it started to rain, first a light drizzle then it got serious and left a small lake in front of us. Don got soaked while plugging into power, water and sewer.

One of our leveling jacks wouldn’t go down. I did all the tests and re-setting procedures listed in the user manual, but still couldn’t get it to work. Since we’re in Canada, the toll-free number for 24/7 support doesn’t work. And since it’s Sunday, the number for the manufacturer in Indiana isn’t answered. Fortunately, our site is fairly level, but without jacks, the rig rocks when anyone walks around in it. This is the third time our Atwood jacks have failed in just over 3 years, and it’s getting really annoying!

When the rain stopped, we made our WalMart and supermarket runs, and returned to share happy hour in the sunshine with the Forbes, as well as the Rinehimers (Luke is under the weather so didn’t join us) and the Kings. It was nice to link up again with these friends.



  1. Really enjoyed your posting all about the
    in's and out's of ferry boat traveling with
    the big rigs. Sounds like your's is a equal
    partnership in traveling with the rv. My
    husband would like that....I'd have to do some
    heavy training to match you, then I'm not sure....
    Great pictures.
    Ron and Linda

  2. It's always fun and interesting to read about others taking their RV's on a ferry. It seems pretty daunting at first, but after a few trips it gets to be much easier on the nerves. Nice job of getting on and off!

  3. Sharon, we really enjoyed your ferry trip pictures, especially the one with the "almost" sunset! Guess your pal Peter should look around, as we know of at least one more lady who drives the motorhome and the husband the car if traveling separately!

  4. Excellent ferry report. Hope the jacks problem can get resolved. We are staying still another day while we try to get our health back. Not fun being under the weather, but glad we have the flexibility in our schedule to handle it.

  5. Sharon, Your comments about the ferry trip as well as the cost really helped us. We will be doing it to in a a week or 10 days. We should be really smug in our 29 footer :-) It is really an advantage to follow you as well as Dennis and Carol as we get great info on what is ahead. Thanks.


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