Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

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Peobody
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Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by Peobody »

My upcoming trip includes three ferries. I have never taken a motorcycle on a ferry so would appreciate advice on what to expect and how best to secure the bike (2008 Goldwing). For anyone in the U.S., these ferries are on the southeastern coast: Southport to Fort Fisher, Cedar Island to Ocracoke, Ocracoke to Hatteras.
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by jfheath »

We frequently take a ferry across the Clyde Estuary in Scotland. Its a 30 minute crossing and although the water is far from lake - flat, the rough surface hardly troubles the ferries. The bike is put on the centre stand or side stand and we have to stay with it. But absolutely no drama. We were worried about it the first time we did it, but we prefer it now to taking the city by-passes. These ferries would take about 30 cars.

The smaller ferries which take just a few vehicles - Ive only done it once with the bike, crossing a loch - these seemed for susceptible to rolling - tilting to the side a little - but again, no drama - and being my first ferry crossing, I think I was more concerned than I needed to be.

From the photos, your ferries look similar crossings to this.

On 24 hour sea crossings, the bike is left on its sidestand, left in gear with a tie on the front brake, and it is ratchet strapped to the deck with a strap across the saddle. Padding is normally provided. Even on the rough Bay of Biscay crossings where the boat is burying its bow into waves at 30knotts, we've got to the bike the next morning and it has been perfectly ok.
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by kernowing »

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Peobody wrote: 16 Oct 2023 00:10 My upcoming trip includes three ferries. I have never taken a motorcycle on a ferry so would appreciate advice on what to expect and how best to secure the bike (2008 Goldwing). For anyone in the U.S., these ferries are on the southeastern coast: Southport to Fort Fisher, Cedar Island to Ocracoke, Ocracoke to Hatteras.
I've taken my '07 Wing on a good many ferry journeys, always to France or Spain from the UK. Here, the ferry company straps the bike across the seat (concerning if you have heated seats but never been a problem with mine) I always take a towel to cover the seat before they put their (often oily/greasy) pad on the seat. As @jfheath says, always on side/kick stand, in 1st gear and I also put a cable /zip tie on the front brake just for extra insurance.
I hope your ferry company treat you rather better than Brittany Ferries treat bikers here!!
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by rbentnail »

I have taken my bikes on all the NC ferries you mention plus a few others in NC & MD. The biggest things about the relatively small ferries we have:

You will generally be asked to embark last and pull off to the side. On the big GW with reverse it's no big deal but I have to pay close attention to how the deck slopes or I may need help backing it out. Often I pull in and swing round to back the rear tire in rather than pulling the front tire in.

I've never had the need to secure the bike. Nor have I had the need to use a center stand. The side stand in first gear on a slope is more than adequate even in 4-5 ft seas with "a 38 nor-easter" wind. I have been asked to stay with the bike until turns are completed and until "we see how it's effected". Most of the time I plop my butt on the seat on the side opposite the side stand. I've never had to remain that way long at all. This is the Knott's Island-Currituck ferry, typical of all the NC ferry's layout.


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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by kernowing »

@rbentnail You certainly wouldn't want to cross the Bay of Biscay without your bike securely strapped down!! I've seen photos of dozens of bikes on their sides after a particularly rough crossing, we've always been fortunate weather wise when crossing the Bay :) UK to Spain is a 22-36hr crossing depending on your route.
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by Peobody »

A suggestion made by a riding buddy was to put it on the center stand and the strap the stand to the front wheel to prevent a pitch from rocking the bike off its stand. I dread having to try to get my Goldwing onto its center stand when its fully loaded. I've started carrying an 8" long piece of 1x6 in the trunk to ride the rear wheel up on before center-standing it. That reduces the difficulty level a bit. A lot of bike don't have center stands though so side stand with front brake engaged makes sense for those.
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by Bikeridr »

On ferries; DON'T use center stand. The triangular points (angle) are way too narrow between the 2 pegs of the center stand and front wheel, whereas between front/rear wheel and side stand is much much wider.
Also, don't tie down over saddle. Use the rear frame ("back swing", is it called that?). Tie down "below" the rear damper/spring with ratchet straps.
Put in 1st gear and use a strap between the (fully turned over) front wheel and side stand. This will prevent the bike to "wander" and you don't have to strap down the front brake. I mean, please do if you wish, but when you lock/tie the front wheel to the side stand, it won't move.
I frequently take the 17 hr ferry crossing between Latvia or Estonia and Sweden and also ferries in North Norway. Never had a problem or found my bike "strewn across" the car deck. While I've seen a few bikes belly-up where they've been sat on center stand.
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by Peobody »

Bikeridr wrote: 16 Oct 2023 13:42 On ferries; DON'T use center stand. The triangular points (angle) are way too narrow between the 2 pegs of the center stand and front wheel, whereas between front/rear wheel and side stand is much much wider.
Also, don't tie down over saddle. Use the rear frame ("back swing", is it called that?). Tie down "below" the rear damper/spring with ratchet straps.
Put in 1st gear and use a strap between the (fully turned over) front wheel and side stand. This will prevent the bike to "wander" and you don't have to strap down the front brake.
Strapping fully turned front wheel to side stand makes a lot of sense. Thanks!
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by rbentnail »

kernowing wrote: 16 Oct 2023 11:54 @rbentnail You certainly wouldn't want to cross the Bay of Biscay without your bike securely strapped down!! I've seen photos of dozens of bikes on their sides after a particularly rough crossing, we've always been fortunate weather wise when crossing the Bay :) UK to Spain is a 22-36hr crossing depending on your route.
The longest ferry peobody is talking about is nothing compared to you guys across the pond. Our's are small ferries and really are nothing to worry about. There generally isn't time to strap anything down. From the time the last vehicle is on until departure is about 3 minutes.

@peobody- don't overthink it. On a normal weather day it's no big deal.
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Re: Ferries: Does anyone have any experience?

Post by colirv »

As others have said, on side stand, in 1st gear, strap over saddle (I use gloves for padding). I've never felt the need for straps on wheels, but I might if a storm was forecast!
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