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Discussion Starter #1
...As long as I'm biding my time waiting to pick up my bike and reading up here, the recent thread about dropping one's LT got me wondering:

Does anyone here regularly (or even irregularly) take their bike on a ferry? Here in Washington, motorcycles get on and off the ferry first and generally don't have to wait in line. It's sweet.

So, if you are parking your bike on a boat that is going to be rocking back and forth and bouncing around for an hour, do you:

a) use the sidestand

b) user the centerstand

c) use either one, and stay on the car deck for the whole trip, hanging on to your bike with both hands just to make sure it doesn't fall over

d) keep a moving pad with you so you can gently lay the bike over on it as soon as you get on the boat -- after all, the bike can't fall any more over if it's already horizontal?
 

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I always thought the main stand was the way to go but on my way back from Alaska a couple of years ago all the bikes were on the side stand. We tied them down in Haines, Ak and they were fine all the way to Bellingham, WA. three days later. We did check the ties for slack at the first stop, other than that everthing was good.
 

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I've used the lake Michigan ferry a couple of times and what I've learned is that you might want to bring a couple of your own tie down straps and in the case of the LT some "soft ties"
As far as side or center stand, that's a judment call depending on what they have to "anchor" your bike down to
 

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Use the sidestand , as this distributes the weight to three points and minimizes the options for falling over to one (provided the bike is in first gear).

My personal strategy for exceptionally rough crossings is to put it on the sidestand with the bike leaning toward the outside rail (or floor anchors) of the ferry. A single , left side, tiedown can secure it to the rail/anchors to maintain this position. The tiedown should be taut , but not tight. Lock handlebars to the left and apply static braking (to the front, or rear wheel) using a small bungee.

This has worked for me during times when I took ferrys two to three times a week. I have never had a problem using the above method.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've never seen any tie-down rings or railings or cleats or anything of the sort on Washington State Ferries. They usually have the motorcycles park in the otherwise wasted, usually triangular spots between the car lanes and the ramps to the upper car deck. If there are a lot of bikes, they'll just line them up on the main deck in front of the first row of cars.

I used to put the Goldwing on the sidestand, leave it in gear, and walk away. Never had a problem. I've only seen one causalty... many years ago, a fellow's Shadow 500 fell over to the right and busted his windshield when it hit the side of car ramp.


By the way, it was seeing a groovy old black BMW (probably a /2) on a ferry up to the San Juan Islands when I was a young teenager that first got me itching for a Beemer. A friendly couple was on their way up to spend a long weekend putting around the islands on their motorcycle. I desperately wanted to do that.
 

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bowlesj said:
I agree, the sidestand is the way to go. No tie downs required on the Great Lakes.
Sorry John, I might agree with the first half of your statement
but I definitely have to disagree with the last,
it can get "very" rough and stormy on the great lakes,
if you don't believe me visit some of the maritime museums that surround it.
Does the name "Edmund Fitzgerald" mean anything to you?
 

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I agree with Patrick. My LT was on the Long Island Ferry out of New London on a calm day and was not tied to the rail. It was on the side stand and in gear when the captain did a left rudder excursion as a small fishing boat did a surprise run across the ferry's bow as we entered Greenwood Harbor, prior to docking. The bike fell over to it's right. Tore the rear speaker vinyl, rotated the front brake master cylinder (which untorqued the brake line at the master) and scratched the wind shield. By the way, it was my fault, not the Ferry's. The customer is responsible for securing his vehicle.
So carry some rope, and some wheel chocks. "SIDE STAND TO THE RAIL AND TIE IT" Remember, if they load the bikes first, up front, the deck angle will change as the trucks and cars are loaded. I felt I had plenty of deck slant to the left, but I was wrong after the ship was loaded.
 

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I was wondering about this myself as I'm thinking of a Nova Scotia trip this summer. My thought is to put it on the side stand as the center stand can easily tip to the right (opposite exhaust side). However I am thinking of some kind of strap that I can use to lock the side stand forward to it can't roll forward and fold it up. I may actually try to machine a piece of aluminum designed to attach to the bike and wrap around the stand that will lock together, (I bet I could sell a bunch of them if I make one too :cool: ) but first I am going to try the strap. I also am thinking of a strap around the brake lever to keep the front brakes on, and a forward and rear strap to keep it tied in toward the rails. Here's my question though, where would be the best placement of the straps if you can't tie straight down to the floor?
 

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I dont know

I have done both. Just make sure its in gear. I have never seen any tie down in any of the washington ferries. But what do I know, could be.

Personally I would use the center stand. If you get worried about your baby you can always sit on the scoot and baby sit it!

Did you buy a k1200 yet, or waitiig to purchase one ?
 

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KMC1 said:
I... However I am thinking of some kind of strap that I can use to lock the side stand forward to it can't roll forward and fold it up. I may actually try to machine a piece of aluminum designed to attach to the bike and wrap around the stand that will lock together,...
I think would be just easy to have a strap form the side stand to the front wheel. It will lock the side stand AND will lock the front wheel too.
 

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WA state ferries

I have never tied down the LT on WA state ferry crossings from Bremerton to Seattle or Port Townsend to Whidbey Island. Side stand only and in 1st gear. I have never experienced any issues. I will add that I have never crossed when there has been much in the way of wave action or evasive maneuvers.

There are usually multiple bikes on these crossings and I have yet to witness any damage to a bike that has rolled off of its sidestand/center stand.
 

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WA state ferries. Bikes get preferential treatment.

If you find yourself traveling in WA state and in need of a crossing requiring a WA state ferry, a couple of things to keep in mind.

During the summer months, the lines waiting for ferries can get quite long. Motorcycles are allowed to go to the head of the line, purchase tickets and get slotted for boarding ahead of the other vehicles. This was something I was not aware of until a very nice resident brought it to my attention as I sat in line waiting for a crossing from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend.

Drive up to the ticket booth, purchase your ticket and follow the directions of the WA state ferry employees. They are great people! They usually load the bikes first, but always have room on at the end if you should get slotted after they start loading.
 

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great thread!

I was on a Lake Superior ferry once. They also load bikes up first, front of the boat, and first ones off at the dock! I beat all the traffic on my tour of the island!

Anyway, scared me to death. Pretty rough trip, had LT on sidestand, leaning towards siderail. I went up to the observation deck, but didn't catch many sights because I was watching the bike the whole time. Ended up back down on the car deck pretending to be the tie-down strap I wish I had. Held the side rail and the left hand grip.

All in all, probably didn't need to babysit it, but still better for the piece of mind to hold it as the boat's-a-rockin'. Tie downs aren't essential but if you have room bring them along.
 

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SilverBuffalo said:
Sorry John, I might agree with the first half of your statement
but I definitely have to disagree with the last,
it can get "very" rough and stormy on the great lakes,
if you don't believe me visit some of the maritime museums that surround it.
Does the name "Edmund Fitzgerald" mean anything to you?
I agree, been to pretty much all the museums. I wouldn't recommend a long ferry trip in that kind of weather regardless, even if commuting. Probably been on around 50 lake ferry trips with no incidents or near incidents. However, if taking a trans-Superior ferry trip, of which there are none, in Novemeber, yea I'd probably lock her down pretty solid.
 

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I say fughedaboud about them slow, stinky ferries.

Just line it up really well on the ramp, get up a head of steam, and JUMP that sucker a la Evil Kneivel. :yeah:

Here's a shot of me practicing before my 7 mile jump last spring at Lake Powell.

The wife and dog were not too crazy about it though, and the trailer popped off the hitch on landing. Good thing for safety chains.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wow... I didn't expect this much discussion. But I love it.

In my many crossings on Washington State ferries, even in really choppy water, the biggest problem I've seen is sometimes the captain doesn't get the boat perfectly lined up in the slip on arrival, and it hits the pilings on one side which causes the boat to suddenly shift a couple feet to one side or the other. Of course, by this time, all riders are with their bikes, usually ON them with both feet planted on the ground (deck), just in case of that final "lateral adjustment".


As for keeping the front brake on, here's a nifty little device: http://www.cableclamp.com/
When I get my K1200 this weekend, I'll try a couple and report back on which one is the best size to put the squeeze on the front brake lever. And they just came out with the "SeaClamp" that has stainless steel hardware for use out in the elements.



As for sidestands... y'know this is one thing that Harley has done right for years. as soon as the weight of the bike is on the sidestand, it locks in place and isn't going *anywhere*. I've wondered why other manufacturers haven't done something similar.

The sidestand on the GL1500 was horrible. It had practically no overcenter, and if the bike rolled forward just an inch or two the stand would retract. The GL1800 is much better and has quite a bit of overcenter.

My 1972 slashfive had a spring that would retract the sidestand as soon as the weight of the bike was off it. It took quite a while to learn the technique of putting the stand down and leaning the bike onto it in one motion.

And the Moto Guzzi design is even worse. As soon as you put the sidestand down, it kills the engine. Guzzi obviously thinks you need to start and warm up the bike on the centerstand. Of course, this "feature" is easily defeated.
 

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I prefer the center stand and tie downs on the rail. Most ferries have wooden blocks that you can wedge under the high side of the bike if you use the side stand, but these tend to wiggle lose.
 

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bowlesj said:
I agree, the sidestand is the way to go. No tie downs required on the Great Lakes.
I've used the Lake Express, not the SS Badger, on Lake Michigan. The bikes are loaded first and put in front of the cars. However, they are among the last to unload. Nonetheless, the crew re-tied my bike once after I went topside. I didn't care for the way they did it but I had no idea that they had. The hold has plenty of tie-down straps for you to use. If you prefer the soft style then you'll have to provide them yourself.

As to not needing tie-downs on the Great Lakes, well, I guess you've traveled on smoother seas than I have. Lake Michigan, which can get real choppy even on nice days, can easily have 5-10' waves. Even with 3-5' you'll feel like the boat is rocking quite a bit. The Lake's waves are of a shorter length than would be encountered elsewhere and therefore a smaller wave can still feel rough. I have never seen, or even heard of anyone having, a problem but I also don't know of any bike that has gone untied. In the case of the Lake Express they won't even allow it. YMMV.
 
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