BRINGING A VEHICLE TO THE ISLAND 101
YOU MAY WANT TO POUR YOURSELF A DRINK
Driving is a great way to see Vinalhaven. There is a lot of ground to cover and if you're here for several days or have difficulty with mobility, we definitely recommend bringing a vehicle. We do have parking at the Tidewater and if that is full, there is a large public lot right next door.
Reservations for vehicles cost $12 and are taken a month ahead of the date of travel. For example, if your check in date is June 20, reservations for that date would become available on May 20. However, only four reservations on every other boat are accepted and each ferry can accommodate 15-20+ vehicles. The rest of the vehicles can get on by waiting in line and getting on the next available ferry. Reservations are given away in person at 7:00 but phone lines for reservations don’t open until 9:30. Often, during the summer, by the time the phone lines open, all of the reservations have already been sold.
Departing the island, reservations are the same, but there are no cars in line. Instead, you call the ferry at 5:30am the morning before you want to travel to get a “line number”, basically another version of a reservation that guarantees you a spot in line on a specific boat. This process involves listening to the worst hold music of all time and being told at regular intervals that “your wait time is approximately five minutes. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received”, regardless of how long your wait time really is. Generally speaking, this process is a bit of a crap shoot but there are strategies that can be employed to ensure greater success.
At some point, the ticket agents run out of “line numbers” to give away. All is not lost. Only the time you spent on the phone when you could have been sleeping. That does NOT mean there are no more spots on the ferries. It does mean, however, that you need to line up in the “standby lane”. Every ferry takes at least a couple of standbys 99% of the time. Often, the larger ferry can accommodate up to 7+ standbys.
The standby rule is that you can only line up for the boat you want to take. If you want to travel on the first ferry (7:00), you may not line up until 6am. Once the 7:00 boat departs, folks can then line up for the 8:45. After the 8:45 departs, you can then get in line for the 10:30, and so on as the day goes on.
As you can imagine, it can be stressful and challenging to bring your vehicle to (and from) the island, especially if you have time constraints. There are ways to ensure a guarantee of getting your vehicle on the ferry for an additional $50 fee.
One way is to hire someone to get you one of the aforementioned sought after reservations. This often involves arriving at the ferry at 1am to sign a clipboard and waiting until 5am when the ferry terminal employees open the office and take the clipboard, then returning two hours later at 7am to actually purchase the reservation.
No, seriously. I couldn’t make this up.
The other option to get your car to the island is to hire someone to put a car in line for you. This is essentially a place holder for your own vehicle. Up to 24 hours ahead of the boat you want to travel on, someone will place his own vehicle in the ferry line and when you arrive, you can switch your car out with his and take its place. This is a bit less convoluted but also takes time and planning and is also a $50 charge.
All this said, we regularly assist guests getting their vehicles back and forth with no stress.
We also have a shuttle so folks don’t have to engage in all this rigamarole. Whatever you decide to do, we’re here to help.
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