Like many things that get better with age, the Coho Ferry is no exception. I write this review to illustrate the incredible kindness of the staff and their ability to right something that I felt was wrong. I have ridden this Ferry nearly twice a week for 2 years. I have used BC Ferries and Washington State Ferries also but my Ferry of choice has always been the Coho. When it comes to reliability, the Coho is second to none. No other Ferry or Ferry system can even come close to their reliability. This is why I rely on it so heavily. I almost always make a reservation because my job requires that I can go back and forth without worry. Even if the ferry is empty I make a reservation.
Two weeks ago I arrived just after the 3pm Victoria sailing had departed. I was first in the reservation lane and to make a long story short, others were loaded in front of me which is not normal for the dock staff to do. When I inquired about the reason I was given a surprising answer that I took exception to. I wrote a review to let others know about my experience. I had never encountered any issues before that and the Coho shuttled me back and forth over 100 times.
Anyway, the Coho staff is more than a bunch of pretty faces. They figured out who I was and placed me in different location on the pier for my next trip. Even after being the 40th car or so in the lot, they loaded me first. Anyway, if you ever have an issue there is a stellar guy who works the Pier. His name is Levi. He will be the one directing the cars where to park, loading cars, directing cars thru customs as they come off the ship or even running fore and aft on the dock smartly to catch mooring lines thrown from the ship as it is tied up. He is good at what he does and seems to enjoy it.
Now more about the Ferry: The Ferry is old but in magnificent shape. Her lines are just as beautiful today as she was when she was launched. The staff does an amazing job keeping her in tip top shape. I served 24 years in the US Navy and never have seen a US warship in a better shape than the Coho. She dry docks for 2 weeks every winter to get her yearly check-ups done and they really make those 2 weeks count. The furniture is dated but is practical, makes the best use of space and is not uncomfortable.
Some tips: If you have big mirrors on your vehicle pull them in. Carry a soft cloth because they can really pack the cars in tight on the boat. Use the cloth to place between your door and your neighbors door should the need arise. Always set your parking brake. When you get on the ferry you can remove the pieces of paper under your wiper that they place when they take your ticket. Do it now or the possibility exists that you may forget and that little piece of paper can be a distraction once you get going down the road. Try the ice cream. Not bad. When you board, go straight to duty free and fill out the little square piece of paper if you plan on purchasing something. The little piece of paper holds up the line more than anything I have seen so get it done and hold onto it until they open the duty free for sales. They will open about half way across the Strait. The next one is huge. DO NOT board the ferry without replacing your car’s battery if it is question. Too many people do this and can affect everyone behind them on the boat as well as the timeliness of the next sailing. You don’t want to be that person. Use the hand rails. During the crossing the ship can rock a bit. Land Lubbers are strongly encouraged to use caution. If you want to go outside and it’s too windy, get all the way up to the bow (front) of the ship as long as it’s not too rough. The design of the bow creates a wind free zone within about 15 feet of the bow. The upper most deck also has weather and wind protection behind glass but it is still open air.
The crossing itself can provide beautiful views of the Sunset, Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Sea Birds, Salmon, Sunsets, Mountains, Big Ships, Military Ships of various types as well as Surfaced Submarines on occasion and some amazing weather. You almost always see something new and interesting with each crossing.
The best years lie ahead for this magnificent Ferry and her staff. To sail on the Coho is to experience a true Northwest Icon.
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