A beautiful BC Ferries ride in winter

travel, bc, ferries, Queen of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

Queen of Nanaimo is one of the boats in the BC Ferries fleet that crosses between the mainland and Vancouver Island. (buckyphoto.com)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN VANCOUVER AND VICTORIA, B.C. – There is a point during the journey at a particular evening sailing when the ocean appears to take over the horizon.

The waves are the exact shades of the skyline and as far as the eye can see, there is nothing beneath you or ahead of you in the direction you are heading except water.

This utter darkness happens only at the end of the year and a few weeks into a new one. The ferry ride begins as nightfall descends and by the time the lights of the terminal are left behind, there is only black sky and an empty ocean.

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In the summertime, the evening journey has proof of life. Starry lights from cruise ships are visible from the deck and it’s easy to imagine the brightness inside; new linen dinner jackets and evening dresses saved especially for a vacation, and from a distance because the water is a connector, you can believe you hear the music playing on decks.

Even the rumbling sounds of cargo freighters are reassuring. We are traveling together, to different destinations, for separate reasons, but the ocean is a path we are sharing.



On a winter ferry ride at night, the captain never comes on the PA to announce a pod of whales are on the starboard side. No one has a camera focused on the horizon in case dolphins are spotted. There are no tourists wondering if it’s possible to catch a cab on Mayne Island.

Most of the passengers on a November ferry on a Friday night are heading home to their places on the Southern Gulf Islands. The first light they see is the terminal where they land. Some of us wave off those arriving first at Sturdies Bay in Galiano but the rest wait for other announcements: Village Bay, Lyall Harbour, Otter Bay. We resume our spot in the darkness as the ferry continues on.

FROM VANCOUVER TO VICTORIA: The Tsawwasseen-to-Swartz Bay ferry route has multiple departures daily. Check the BC Ferries website for schedules and availability. Fares are $14.60 per passenger 12 years and older. The price is $7.40 for children 5-11; kids 4 and under are free. You can reach either terminal by bus from the downtowns of Vancouver or Victoria. It costs $43 to take car onto a ferry. Reservations for car travel are highly recommended if you’re travelling in the summer and at other peak times. Reservations cost $15.

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Vicky is the worldly publisher of Vacay.ca. Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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