We left Skagway around noon on Thursday, taking the high-speed Alaska Marine Highway ferry M/V Fairweather to Haines, 15 miles down the Lynn Canal. I had been looking forward to the ferry ride, but not to boarding the ferry at Skagway. We have had our motorhome on ferries before, without incident, but never at a port with such an extreme tidal variance – up to a 20 foot difference between low and high tide! And to make matters worse, we were scheduled to board at dead low tide, making the pitch of the ramp quite severe, even from the adjacent side-loading, floating platform.
We had unhooked the Jeep and Dale would drive it aboard. Everyone was in position as the ferry docked and passengers from Haines disembarked. It looked like the beginning of a race. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
Dale, with the Jeep, was the first to board, followed by the smaller vehicles. The problematic two were going to be me in our 28′ Allegro Breeze and the travel trailer in front of me. In turn, he and I went down the ramp. I sat on the ramp idling and watching him maneuver around. We were going to have to back in. I was quite concerned about getting stuck on either the high or low cantilevers of the ramp, but at least I had already made it down the big ramp to the floating platform.
Cautiously, I eased ahead. The ferrymen were just as concerned as I was and they shepherded me back, checking my clearance. Fortunately, our motorhome levels with its air bag suspension, which I was able to fully inflate in order to gain an additional 8″ or so of clearance. Off we go! Already inside, Dale was able to photograph the whole sequence.
Houston, the Eagle has landed!
And still plenty of room for others.
The M/V Fairweather is a 250 ton catamaran, measuring 235 feet long with a beam of 60 feet. Its vehicle loading capacity is 35 large cars and up to 5 large vehicles, limited each to 40 feet long, 8.5 feet wide and 14 feet high.
Powered by four MTU diesel engines with 19,200 HP, the Fairweather roared along at 40 mph, leaving Skagway – literally – in our wake.
It was a beautiful, but short, scenic cruise down North America’s deepest fjord (as deep as 2,000 feet in some places). Here’s a view from the bow, looking ahead toward Haines, our destination.
The pitch of the ramp at Haines was not as dramatic as at Skagway and we were quickly ashore and on our way to the campground.