Thanks for responding Ellen.
The answer to your question is — not cheap. Keep in mind there are two ferries. The Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo ferry will cost around $100 for two people and vehicle. Then, the Port Hardy to Bella Bella ferry will be $131 per person (including their kayak). These are both one-way costs, so repeat for the return trip.
In addition, parking at the ferry terminal in Port Hardy is $50 per week for a vehicle. If we can’t get parking spots at the terminal, we would have to arrange for alternate parking and transportation to the terminal, likely raising the cost a bit for leaving our vehicles in Port Hardy.
So, as you can see, the straight forward plan would be to drive to Port Hardy and wheel the kayaks onto the ferry. The alternative is to drive to Bella Coola. For those with loads of time, this is a fun way to get there. But, for now, I’ll assume the direct route would be of more interest.
Some important notes. A tarp is essential for paddling in this area. I use an MEC Guide tarp (the sil version) and put it over my tent. There is a story behind this opinion, and it involves the Central Coast. I will tell it to you when we meet. (If you are not a tarpologist, note the knots and tarps course coming up on the 18th.)
Also, it is best to choose a ferry arriving just before a full tide. The launch area at McLaughlin Bay (where the ferry docks at Bella Bella) is very rough. High tide could be the difference between running straight into the water and paddling off versus having to off-load the kayaks to wheel them over the rocky terrain.
We don’t have to paddle far the day we arrive. But, we definitely don’t want to camp at McLaughlin. There are no washroom facilities available when the ferry terminal office is closed. There are people living up the hill. Ya, awkward!
For now, let’s leave trip timing open and see if there are others interested in joining the party. We don’t want to wait too long, mind you. The Central Coast ferries can get booked up. Even spots for kayaks are limited.