Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 19: Foggy Bay to Ketchikan

We were up early and underway by 6:15 a.m. Calm seas, light winds, overcast…typical Alaska.

I called Customs when I was an hour out. A very nice woman answered and then I abruptly had to hang up…whales! Several orcas were coming our way and I needed to steer the boat around them.
Orcas welcoming us to Ketchikan

A few minutes later I called back and spoke to the same woman. She asked if I wanted to stop at the fuel dock on my way into town. I did, so she sent a customs agent down to Anderes Oil to meet me. Very easy process. The Customs agents here seem way friendlier than the guys in the lower 48.

Fueling was easy and quick. From Anacortes to Ketchikan I ran the engine for 106.71 hours (generator for 9.6 hours), covered 758.59 nautical miles, and burned 218 gallons of diesel. I still had 152 gallons left in the tanks.

36.43 nm today
758.59 nm total

Day 18: Prince Rupert to Foggy Bay

On to Alaska! The weather forecast called for decreasing winds throughout the day, so we weren’t in any rush to leave. We ended up shoving off around 7:30 a.m. Winds were light and transiting Venn Passage was uneventful.

Our good luck with weather continued. The sun unexpectedly shone and wind was light all day.
Excellent weather across Dixon Entrance
We spotted some very active humpbacks (though they were far away) and had only a light swell to contend with. Three of the boats opted to skip Foggy Bay and run straight to Ketchikan. The rest of us enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon and evening in Foggy Bay. I spotted a bear when entering the bay. Once I had the anchor set I hopped in the dinghy for a closer look.
Humpback from afar
First bear of the trip, spotted in Foggy Bay.
Tomorrow we’ll make the final 35 mile run into Ketchikan.

50.86 nm today

722.16 nm total

Day 17: Lowe Inlet to Prince Rupert

The trip from Lowe Inlet to Prince Rupert is mostly through Grenville Channel, which is long and normally boring.

Given our timing we had to fight the current for the first 14 miles or so. And oh what a current. We had 4 knots against us at times, making for a long morning.

I read for awhile, took a nap, took a shower…it’s sure nice having a Kevin aboard to watch the boat while I do other things.

Chatham Sound was flat, and we got into Prince Rupert mid afternoon. I ran into two couples I’d met two summers ago in Meyer’s Chuck. They keep their boats in Prince Rupert and are getting ready to head south for the summer.

Tomorrow looks good for crossing Dixon Entrance. Wind variable 5-15 knots…hope it holds!

58.47 nm today

671.3 nm total

Day 16: Bishop Bay to Lowe Inlet

Ursula Channel is one of the most stunning sections of coastline along the Inside Passage and this morning did not disappoint. A few clouds clung to the peaks, but blue skies and sunshine ruled the day.

Stunning Ursula Channel
No bad views out here

We did have a bit of drama this morning. Gypsy River, the C-Dory 22, reported a hydraulic fluid leak at the helm. John topped off the reservoir but was worried he might lose the steering altogether. He asked that I take Babette, his girlfriend, on my boat.

I’m neither licensed nor insured to carry passengers for hire, but given the circumstances I somewhat reluctantly agreed.

I took the dinghy back to my boat and got things ready to go: engine room checks, stowing gear, a quick breakfast. Meanwhile Kevin took the dinghy over to the dock to pick up Babette. They returned with about five suitcases of clothing and gear. I thought I was giving her a ride for a day; she evidently thought she was moving aboard! I quickly made it clear that I’d take her to Prince Rupert but no further. I was happy to help her arrange transport from Prince Rupert (the nearest place possible, really), but I couldn’t carry her across the border to Alaska.

The trip to Lowe Inlet was mostly uneventful. Because I run the boat slowly most of the time, I try to run it to wide open throttle for 5 or 10 minutes each day. This is apparently good for the engine, and it also is a way to regularly “stress test” the drivetrain. Today when I throttled up I noticed a weird vibration and the engine wouldn’t turn all the way to its usual 2800 RPM. I stopped, gave the throttle a jolt of reverse, then ran back to WOT. Perfect. I suspect a piece of kelp or line was wrapped around the prop.

Boats anchored in Lowe Inlet 
Happy hour on Safe Harbour
Unfortunately the salmon aren’t running yet, so there were no bears fishing at the waterfall. Still a beautiful spot.

44.01 nm today

612.83 nm total

Day 15: Butedale to Bishop Bay

Today we had a short run to Bishop Bay, one of my favorite places on the B.C. coast. Two of the boats in the fleet opted to skip Bishop Bay and instead the overnighted in Hartley Bay, a nearby native community.
Scenery approaching Bishop Bay.
 The rest of us either moored to the small dock or mooring buoys in Bishop Bay. We enjoyed a long soak in the hot springs…a real treat for everyone.

Accommodations at Bishop Bay Hot Springs. 
The hot springs remain just as I remembered them.
The weather cleared throughout the day. People relaxed and chatted on the dock and onboard. Perfect day.

I’d met the owners of the two other boats in Bishop Bay a couple of years ago at the Seattle Boat Show. They’d come to my talk about cruising Alaska and then we’d chatted afterwards. They recognized me and it was neat hearing about their trip to Alaska last summer.

22.82 nm today

568.53 nm total