We were not sure if we could, but we decided to go for it.
After driving north through Galveston Island all along the sea wall, we decided to exit the island through the ferry service. We did not know at the time if it was possible for a school bus or large truck to take the ferry across the Bolivar Roads Channel that separates Galveston Island with the Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry service is run by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) whose website says that “vehicles should not exceed 80,000 pounds, may have a maximum length of 65 feet, a maximum height of 13.5 feet and a maximum width of 8.5 feet.” Based on that information we felt sure we were well within limits.
The ferry takes about 15 minutes to cross the channel, which makes it a great shortcut if you’re looking to bypass the South Houston area traffic and hug the coast line. However, as you might expect from any maritime transportation, the service can be held up by weather or mechanical difficulties, so some people have reported long waits of multiple hours trying to board. It can be a gamble. But most people seem to enjoy the experience according to the yelp reviews and we were no different. With only a five-minute wait before boarding we were on our way.
When we arrived at Ferry Landing in the northern coast of Galveston Island, we were stopped at the entrance by a staff member who immediately saw the bus and asked how many passengers we were carrying. Katy was driving the car behind us, so it was only Finn and I in the bus. So I told her, “It’s just me and the dog.” There was a moment of confusion and then clarity descended upon her. She said “Oh, you’re not a school bus!” I replied, “No, this is our conversion.” And we both laughed and laughed and laughed. (I’m exaggerating she just told me which lane to line up at and waved us through).
Then we waited in line until our turn to board came up and we boarded. I drove the skoolie up the ramp onto the ship, parked where they told me to park, and listened to the P.A. announcements.
Basically, the rule is that you stay in the vehicle until the announcer tells you that its ok to move about the ferry. So We did that . Though plenty of others left their cars immediately to get a good position at the front of the ship or on the top deck. The staff wasn’t bothered by this.
It was a very nice ride, and for those fifteen minutes the inside of the skoolie felt like it was the cabin of a sailboat. Our taller than average vantage point out the windows made it seem like we were sailing solo against the wind upon the sea.
After 15 minutes at sea, we were back at port.