From Comox to Powell River on the new ferry “Salish Orca”

May 31st, Day 36 of the trip – starting the second half of the adventure if my 10-week plan works out. This was an easy day, with only about a dozen kilometers put on my motorhome. It was mostly a ferry day, sailing across the Salish Sea on BC Ferries’ brand-new boat the Salish Orca.

I didn’t need to be at the Comox (Little River) ferry terminal really early, but it was as good a place as any to wait, so I was checked in before 07:00 for the 10:00 sailing. I asked the clerk about the Experience card, and it saved me a few dollars. It’s basically a pre-loaded debit card. My 51 feet plus me cost $209.20 in total – I loaded $467 on the Experience card to get me right to Horseshoe Bay, the end of my ferries for this trip. The red tag is put on an RV’s propane tank to confirm that it was shut off.

BC Ferries tickets and Experience card
I had plenty of time to sort photos, do some writing, walk the dogs, take some photos…

RV at BC Ferries Comox terminal

BC Ferries Comox terminal
It was just me in the lot for a very long time 🙂

RV at BC Ferries Comox terminal
Well, me and a bald eagle or two.

Bald eagle at BC Ferries Comox terminal
The departure lounge is efficient, and comfortable enough for short stays I expect, even with the hard plastic seats.

The departure lounge at BC Ferries Comox terminal
At 09:20, the Salish Orca slipped quietly into her berth.

Ferry Salish Orca at BC Ferries Comox terminal
At at 09:50, it was my turn to board.

The ferry was perhaps 20% full, so loading was simple.

RVs on the BC ferry Salish Orca
I was of course interested in the pet area…

Pet room on the BC ferry Salish Orca
…but was disappointed to find that it’s just luggage storage but for dogs. If you walk on with your dog, I guess this is the only option, though. Poor doggies 🙁

Pet room on the BC ferry Salish Orca
With relatively few vehicles to load, the boat was ready to go long before the 10:00 sailing time.

BC ferry Salish Orca
I went exploring the boat (or is it a ship?) before sailing time. I couldn’t find any stairs going to the upper decks, and the elevators are strange and slow. Strange? Well, you get in, push an upper floor button, and the door on the opposite side you got in on opens, and you walk into another elevator. I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe in Poland where the boat was built it makes sense 🙂

Elevator on the BC ferry Salish Orca
Elevators aside, the Salish Orca is lovely, inside and out. Darlene Gait from the Esquimalt First Nation created the design for the striking hull painting. It replaced the 52-year-old Queen of Burnaby on this run. A local described the Queen of Burnaby to me as “an old rust bucket”.

BC ferry Salish Orca
Right at 10:00, we pulled away from Little River.

BC ferry Salish Orca
Though there’s not much to see on this route, the Salish Orca has some nice outside viewing decks as well as plenty of indoor seating. It’s licenced for a total of 600 passengers and crew. (as well as 138 vehicles)

BC ferry Salish Orca
There’s a nice bright children’s play area.

BC ferry Salish Orca
The computer area is convenient for working, and charging your equipment.

BC ferry Salish Orca
Back in the motorhome at 11:20, with the Garmin showing the approach to the Powell River dock.

It’s only 3 km or so from the ferry terminal to the municipal Willingdon Beach Campground, located on the ocean right at the edge of downtown Powell River. I had booked 2 nights at $30.50 plus taxes per night. Although there was nobody in the office, I had been assigned site #64, so went to get set up. As I was doing that, my RVing friends Barb and Dave Rees showed up to take me on an introductory tour. Barb and Dave put a lot of miles on every year, and to help finance that, Barb writes books about their journeys and related RV subjects, and Dave makes jewellery.

I didn’t take my camera or take notes, but we covered a lot of ground, in the new town and the historic Townsite, and out in the hills. We stopped for lunch at a pub overlooking Powell Lake. In the afternoon, we went for a walk at Inland Lake, and Barb took this photo of Dave and I with their fur-kids, Cheena and Pali.

That evening, despite occasionally heavy rain, Bella and Tucker and I took a couple of long walks along the shore and through the forest. The next day, Barb and Dave were taking me out to Lund, the north end of Highway 101, for “the best fish and chips” 🙂


From Comox to Powell River on the new ferry “Salish Orca” — 1 Comment

  1. That was a nice commentary and brings back memories of Lund. But especially memories of my favourite ferry in the fleet. Her name was changed and due to strange circumstances she went down on the Northern run. When travelling I used to ring the ferry office in order to join her on her trip to Vancouver Island.