Any tips for ferry travel?

May 22, 2019
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Hello all.

I am fairly new to Caravanning, having purchased my first only 2 years ago. I’m taking the van this weekend on a ferry for my first time ever. ( obviously been on ferries with car before).

I remember seeing a caravan going diagonally off a ramp once, which I assume was to prevent damage to the rear, and someone told me one time to put jockey wheel down to take the stress off the car shocks cos there’s no air circulation and they could heat up.

I just want to ask you good folks;

Is what I’ve mentioned correct?

Do you have any other tips for me ?

Does anyone know anything specific about the boarding/disembarking on Holyhead-Dublin Stena?

Sorry for a big first post to the forum, and I hope it’s in the right section. Thanks in advance
 
Nov 11, 2009
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konrose said:
Hello all.

I am fairly new to Caravanning, having purchased my first only 2 years ago. I’m taking the van this weekend on a ferry for my first time ever. ( obviously been on ferries with car before).

I remember seeing a caravan going diagonally off a ramp once, which I assume was to prevent damage to the rear, and someone told me one time to put jockey wheel down to take the stress off the car shocks cos there’s no air circulation and they could heat up.

I just want to ask you good folks;

Is what I’ve mentioned correct?

Do you have any other tips for me ?

Does anyone know anything specific about the boarding/disembarking on Holyhead-Dublin Stena?

Sorry for a big first post to the forum, and I hope it’s in the right section. Thanks in advance

It depends on the ferry but we have not had any problem with the embarkation/disembarkation slopes. Just take it slowly where the gradient changes and don't let them rush you. They can be quite steep so rather than risk a hill start I let the vehicles in front clear the slope or at least get well ahead then i can just drive in one continuous run.

I have never seen the need to drop the nose wheel and the car shocks/springs won't be affected, why should they? I do put car and caravan handbrakes on. Wind extended mirrors in or remove. On the longer ferry crossings I would disconnect the caravan cable from the car just to make sure that nothing would flatten the car battery, but that was probably me being cautious.

We have travelled Dover-Dunkerque/Calais, Portsmouth Caen/LeHavre, Pembroke to Ireland without any problems.
Enjoy your trip.
 
May 24, 2014
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I remember seeing a caravan going diagonally off a ramp once, which I assume was to prevent damage to the rear, and someone told me one time to put jockey wheel down to take the stress off the car shocks cos there’s no air circulation and they could heat up.

Leaving the ramp at a slight angle would be fairly irrelevant though thats what people will be thinking. If the ramp angle is steep enough, the caravan will bottom out regardless. A lot is to do with the length of the overhang on the caravan. Most times this wont happen though.

As for shock absorbers heating up in the belly of the ferry, I have never heard anything like it. The shock absorbers will do far more work on the road, and in Spain/Italy etc, much hotter than the ferry. :p
 
May 27, 2014
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I would endorse otherclive recommendation to let the vehicles in front get ahead as you definitely don’t want to be doing a hill start on the fairly steep access ramps
 
Oct 12, 2013
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Don't worry it's a doddle , we've done it twice and it was flat going on no bother , fold mirrors in , handbrakes on and that's it . Just don't go bumper to bumoer with the car in front , if you're worried YouTube it and have a look , the only thing I didn't like was when we came back from Holland and we were put onto an elevated bit where the ramp was like a cattlegrid kind of ramp and I spun quite a bit up but mind you I think every one did !
 
May 7, 2012
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I do agree with the points raised on using the ramps. Take it slowly, very slowly if the ramp is steep and let the vehicle ahead clear the ramp before you go up. I have never taken any precautions on the ferry other than have the handbrake on and if it might be rough the caravan brake.
 
May 24, 2014
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Just one other though in respect of ferry travel, and this is important whether towing or not.
Before you travel, make sure you know how to lock the doors on your vehicle with the alarm DISABLED. You are expected to have your alarm in the disabled state when onboard. Nothing worse than sitting in the whales belly frantically reading your handbook, and of course the same goes for your caravan, do not activate the alarm.

The only other advice of use is pick the shortest crossing you can. There is nothing worse than being trapped on a ferry that is transpoting numerous groups of schoolchildren, who all seem to have been learning the tactics of Ghengis Khan in history lessons.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I know that its sounds obvious, but remember what deck and what parking station you left your car at. Ships layout can confuse the uninitiated. Unlike Royal Navy assault ships, commercial ferries do not use red or green deck tiles to tell you if you are on the port or starboard side of the ship. It helps the poor seasick embarked force to find their way to the disembarkation stations.
 
May 24, 2014
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Unlike Royal Navy assault ships, commercial ferries do not use red or green deck tiles to tell you if you are on the port or starboard side of the ship. It helps the poor seasick embarked force to find their way to the disembarkation stations.

Assualt ship? We got the M.V. Norland. :p Didnt think we were housetrained enough for QE2 or Canberra. :(
 
Nov 6, 2006
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Some ferries have a quiet lounge, that you pay a bit extra for. To us its well worth it, as ferry time is for relaxing a bit and once you came out of there you realise just how noisy it can be..
 
May 24, 2014
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We normally get a sleeper cabin outbound and day cabin inbound. Never do Dover Calais these days. Usually Pompey St Malo or Harwich to HoH.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I do drop the nosewheel once parked on the ferry, particularly in bad weather. A friend did have shock absorb er failure after a particularly rough cross and this was put down to the absorb er working hard but having no flow of cooling air passing over it - as it does when on the road.
Be a bit wary of the hand signals of deck crew.I have had three occasions when had we followed the directions given by much windmilling of arms we should have hit or been hit by other vehicles. Complaints to the ferry operator got nowhere, just statements of 'all crew very skilled'. Parking HGVs is much easier than parking or disembarking caravans as the drivers are professionals and the geometry (the pivot much closer to tractor than with a towed caravan - assists.
Walk all round the outfit when returning to it. Responsibility for safe keeping is clearly with the ferry company and any damage should be pointed out before disembarking. Don't be bullied to go beforefore you do this. Take photos on your phone.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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RayS said:
I do drop the nosewheel once parked on the ferry, particularly in bad weather. A friend did have shock absorb er failure after a particularly rough cross and this was put down to the absorb er working hard but having no flow of cooling air passing over it - as it does when on the road.
Be a bit wary of the hand signals of deck crew.I have had three occasions when had we followed the directions given by much windmilling of arms we should have hit or been hit by other vehicles. Complaints to the ferry operator got nowhere, just statements of 'all crew very skilled'. Parking HGVs is much easier than parking or disembarking caravans as the drivers are professionals and the geometry (the pivot much closer to tractor than with a towed caravan - assists.
Walk all round the outfit when returning to it. Responsibility for safe keeping is clearly with the ferry company and any damage should be pointed out before disembarking. Don't be bullied to go beforefore you do this. Take photos on your phone.

I find it hard to believe that the dynamics of a ships motion even in rough seas will cause problems to a cars shock absorbers. The frequency and displacement spectrum are totally different and the energy dissipated would be far less than on a loaded car on roads. Plus whilst there may be no air flow the absorbers sit in clear air which would dissipate heat. I suspect he already had a failed shock absorber.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Coming back from Dublin to Holyhead, no caravan departure 7 PM, Decided didnt need a cabin , only 2 to 3 hours, wrong the boat was full of screaming Children , for the sake of £20/30 . Pay for the cabin especially as you have to drive afterward.
 
Oct 3, 2013
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If you travel with Britanny ferries they give you a card that tells you the stairway to use and the deck your vehicle is on.
We had to zig-zag off a ferry once.They must have got the tide times wrong and the ferry ramp was below the dock ramp.Each car/caravan was directed by an unloading officer,when to stop and when to go and in what direction.The ferry was going up and down when we were unloading.
Everyone got off without any problems.
 

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