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Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

Bellevue, Washington
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2 posts
47 reviews
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Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

I was on Orcas this past weekend. We waited three hours for a ferry to Orcas on Saturday morning, then seven (!!!!!) hours for a ferry back to Anacortes on Sunday. Arrived at 1 pm, finally got on a boat at 8 pm. The boats are small, the ferries infrequent. There is no reservation system. My advice is to go mid week, avoid weekends when there are special events, fly by Kenmore Air or find an alternative to Orcas. This is the worst ferry traffic I have ever seen, and I have been a ferry rider over 20 years.

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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1. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

I can understand your pain, but it would be more helpful to readers if you provided specifics.

Three hours wait? You did not say which ferry to Orcas you wanted and when you arrived at the terminal.

Was there a ferry delay or breakdown? It's been very foggy some mornings causing some delays.

Seven hours from Orcas to Anacortes? Which ferry did you want? Newbies need to know that there aren't that many. Did the first two ferries fill up causing your delay? Boarded at 8:00 PM? For the 8:45 PM ferry, is that what you mean?

While I can empathize, you say you've been riding them for 20 years but still got "hooked" by their limitations (size and schedule). So, nothing new about those facts.

Edited: 12 August 2013, 23:00
Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
62 reviews
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2. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

Newbies should know about the ferry schedule and alert system, on each schedule page.

For example, pick your ferry times. This chart should help, but it can be stating a worst case scenario (in red). …wa.gov/ferries/traffic_stats/congestion/sum…

Read the "Alerts", right hand side of page. wsdot.com/ferries/…

Heed advice on the above website about early arrival at the ferry docks. Ask ferry personnel at your departing terminal when you should be in line for the selected ferry.

The drive from Seattle to Anacortes can be as little as 1.5 hours; DON'T rely on this, assume 2.0 hours.

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We always take a very early morning ferry from Anacortes in order to avoid delays and to spend more time in the islands. And yes, we try to avoid weekend ferry travel to the islands. Lastly, we strongly suggest at least one overnight, two is far better, to experience the islands.

Edited: 12 August 2013, 23:12
Seattle, Wa
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3. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

We always take the first or second ferry back from Orcas to Anacortes on a Sunday. We just get there 45 minutes or so in advance (even on the last 4th of July weekend this was enough for the first ferry). Getting to the Orcas dock midday on an August Sunday....yeah, that's going to be a long wait. You do have to be strategic if you are going to visit on a summer weekend.

It would be nice if there were more ferries (I guess--though there is something to be said for keeping crowds down) but we've got a whole state full of needy transportation intrastructure and a lot of folks (not me) who view ferry funding as less necessary than roads, so it's an uphill battle. Are you going to write your legislator that we need more ferry funding?

Indian Harbour...
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4. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

This weekend was worse than usual. The Doe Bay Fest was going on - started Thursday and Ended on Sunday so you had an additional 1000 or so people. Even so it didn't look like the 8:50 AM ferry on Sunday left anyone behind so that would be the one to go for. Oddly enough we had friends come over on the 7:20 PM on Friday and it wasn't full but Thursday was awful. Don't know what happened on Saturday. Usually it's not that bad.

Port Townsend...
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for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
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5. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

Sample size = insignificant.

Bellevue, Washington
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2 posts
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6. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

Saturday delay issue was likely nine large buses of children going to Camp Orkila which apparently happens most Saturdays during the summer per the camp counselors I spoke to. On Sunday we got to the ferry at 1 pm and the 5:20 boat was already full. The Doe Bay music festival was going on over the weekend, but there are other events on a lot of weekends so I don't think that is particularly unusual. The ferry system added an extra unscheduled run at 8 pm, hence the seven hour wait. If I am going to spend this much time en route, I may as well go to Paris - it's a nine hour non stop flight from Sea Tac. The ferry system is underfunded and probably not well managed. I have no complaint about the individual employees who do the best they can with resources available.

7. Re: Warning re weekend ferry Anacortes to Orcas and return

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