Sunday, May 15, 2016

Alaska 2016 | Day 1 | Anacortes to Ganges

The last week has been super busy. Finalizing the watermaker install, tinkering with systems, provisioning, saying bye to friends and family...
Turning saltwater into drinking water. Super cool.
Yesterday I moved the boat around from Skyline Marina to Cap Sante Marina, fueled up, picked up Kevin Monahan (my crew to Alaska for the third year in a row), and met with the flotilla folks who are departing from Anacortes. A busy and productive day.

After a fitful night of sleep we departed Anacortes about 9:00 a.m. today, destination Bedwell Harbour to clear Canadian Customs. then Ganges for the night. The trip through the San Juans was easy and mostly calm, although traffic was quite high. We dodged other boats much of the way, and the roughest conditions were the wakes from other boats.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the USCG, were on hand in Anacortes to see us off. Actually, they were just deterring "kayaktavists" from interrupting operations at the local oil refineries.
Canadian Customs at Bedwell Harbour was a new experience for me. Yes, I've cleared customs on the boat dozens of times, but I'd never actually seen officers at Bedwell Harbour. I'd always just called in, answered a few questions, and been on my way. Not today.

As I walked towards the phone an officer intercepted me and asked to see our passports. I obliged. Then I picked up the phone, answered the usual questions, received my clearance number, and showed it to the officer in the office. He said he would come to the boat (with another officer) and do an inspection.

After confirming that I did not have any marijuana, weapons, deadly fruits or meats, sex slaves, excessive quantities of alcohol, undocumented immigrants, needles, nunchucks, or other contraband on board, the agents decided to check for themselves. They spent 15 or 20 minutes opening hatches and peeking into corners. They asked the same questions to both Kevin and me a dozen different ways. Evidently we passed, because after about 50 minutes they welcomed us to Canada and sent us on our way.

In Ganges, we gathered the complete flotilla for the first time. This year's group is BIG—both the size of the boats, and the number of people on them.

Here's a breakdown:

Safe Harbour, Nordic Tug 37, two aboard
Howdy, North Pacific 52, four aboard
Taliesin II, Coastal Craft 40, one aboard
Just Get'n By, Little Hoquiam 60, four aboard
Stormy, Grand Banks 46, two aboard
Mana Kai, Kadey Krogen 44, two aboard
Event Horizon, Eagle 53, four aboard
Doll Face, West Coast 46, three aboard
Sound n' Fury, Meridian 36, two aboard
Sound n' Fury, the Meridian 368 on the trip
Howdy, the North Pacific 52. Guess where the owners are from!
What's it like leading a flotilla, you ask? Well, I seem to spend a lot of time trying to fix boats...

Take tonight, for example. We had dinner at MOBYS pub, then I dove into the first project: helping replace a leaking generator raw water pump. Somewhat miraculously, we had all the parts and tools we needed, and we managed to replace the pump in about an hour. A quick test run revealed no leaks...encouraging!

Tomorrow we're off to Silva Bay, then across the Strait of Georgia the next day.

45.4 nm today
45.4 nm total

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