Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seattle to Alaska in 22 feet

It's been close to four years since my last big trip and the next one is in the planning process now. The idea is to depart Anacortes around June 1 for a three to four month journey up the Inside Passage to Glacier Bay, Alaska and (hopefully) back. Exact routing and stops are going to be left intentionally vague so I can take advantage of opportunities as they arise and adjust for varying weather conditions. If all goes according to plan and the weather cooperates (a big if!), I hope to make the return trip on the west coast of Vancouver Island and maybe even make a side trip out to the Queen Charlottes. I expect the overall distance cruised will be 2500 to 3000nm, or roughly the same distance as the Pacific crossing from San Diego to the Marquesas. I'm trying not to think about how much fuel I'll burn!

So far, much of the planning has been focused on preparing the boat. I've had an autopilot installed that interfaces with the Raymarine MFD and allows me to focus on navigation while cruising and will let me relax a bit on the long days that I'll inevitably have. I'll be able to plan out routes on my laptop or iPad, load them into the MFD, and let the computers steer the boat. I also had a windlass installed which makes anchoring as easy as pushing a button. Definitely a necessity after my microdiscectomy last winter! The electrical system has been reworked to make power management easier. Last summer, I bought an inflatable kayak (Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame) that will make exploring anchorages much more pleasant than it was with the 8 foot inflatable I took on the last trip. This winter I'll have a 120v battery charger installed for when I'm at a dock as well as a Tohatsu 6hp kicker in case the main engine fails. Since the last trip I've also added a stereo with Sirius radio for news and entertainment, changed over all the lights to LED's to save power, and purchased a personal locator beacon (PLB) in case the worst happens.

Next to my desk I have a couple of large planning charts hanging from the walls that I look at regularly. I've got a pile of guidebooks that I read when I have time. These books are filled with information about the myriad of islands, coves, fjords, and anchorages that line the Inside Passage. The Inside Passage is the holy grail for boaters in the PNW, and I'm excited to make my first complete trip when I'm as young as I am (22). Hopefully it will become the first of many!

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