British Columbia to Ketchikan

 

 

Pruth Bay, top of lookout..a natural “Japanese” garden
Pruth Bay, top of lookout..a natural “Japanese” garden

We made it!!!  We’re in Alaska!  We crossed the border last Wednesday night and have been in Ketchikan this past week doing boat repairs and reprovisioning, seeing the sights. All the “gates”, the tricky water, is behind us. We’ve had excellent weather and no rough seas.  Our cruising skills have been improving as well as our anchoring skills. This boat is a beast. It’s 58ft. long, 18ft wide, and 31ft high. It weighs 63 tons. When we dock the boat, Dick is managing the controls about 20ft above the dock level and I’m on the dock with one line to begin tying it up. The wind is blowing the boat away from the dock, the stern slips away.  I can no longer get on the boat. People are watching us. We need a system!  We now have a system! It works great and makes us feel so good that we can wrestle this beast to rest. Last year we were more trial and error, but we’ve read about it and made some improvements. Same with anchoring. Many of the places on this trip do not have docks.  We must anchor in beautiful bays with deep water. You have to make sure you have a good bottom to hold the anchor. You have to let out all the anchor chain to reach the bottom, plus more to hold the boat. The more horizontal your anchor chain, the better hold you get.  The longer the chain you let out, the longer the swing radius, the more you can crash into when the tide changes, so you need to balance these two concepts. These requirements are critical to achieve, or you can never leave your boat to go hiking, explore a town, or sleep well. No one wants to find the boat washed up on the rocks. We have gotten so much better at doing this and trusting this.  We have much, much more to learn, and I’m sure the trip will provide the opportunity.  I know I write about the mechanics of getting there a lot, maybe more than what we see.  Operating this boat and navigating the water and weather is paramount to to our safety, and is part of every move we make.

We had a beautiful trip up the west coast of mainland British Columbia. We were able to go through some narrow channels and see some granite-walled fiords with waterfalls.  We anchored in isolated inlets that were barely a slit in the landscape. I got to see eagles mating. They lock talons from above and spin to the ground. It’s very rare to see.  Dick was in the shower and missed it. We stopped at Pruth Bay on Calvert Island which is home to the Hakai Luxvbalis Consrvancy Research Station. They maintain beautiful hiking trails to the west side of the island which meet the expanse of Queen Charlotte Sound. Our anchorage provided a great view of an eagle pair who occupied a nearby tree. We have met some couples who are on the same journey and we drop in and out of each other’s path along the way. They always have great tips on where to go, where the prawns and crabs are, where to fish for salmon.  Dick has gotten his down riggers and lures out and we’re planning to start fishing this coming week. We haven’t managed to catch crab yet, but we’ve only tried twice. 

We are looking forward to seeing Alaska.  Tomorrow we go to Misty Fiords National Wilderness Monument and circumnavigate Revillagigedo Island (ask anyone here and no one knows how to pronounce it). We’ll be a week in the wilderness and be in Wrangell next week. We’ve enjoyed our stay in Ketchikan. The cruise ship industry has taken over. 10-15 thousand people get off the ships everyday to shop, eat, and walk around. The ships never stay overnight, so everyday is a new batch of folks. It’s culture shock for us. I stumbled into being invited to a Saturday afternoon knitting group at the local yarn shop and I got a chance to sit with some local women for a few hours. They were grateful for the cruise industry because it’s their economy. Fishing and logging has diminished. These women were hearty. They live among fishermen and hunters, bears in their gardens, but they are like most women I know too.  Where do you get your haircut?, how are the grandkids?, any luck with the tomatos this year?.  I loved every minute of it. They were even reading the same books as our book club in Tucson. The great Circle.  

 

Miles Inlet, a very private anchorage
Miles Inlet, a very private anchorage

Ursula Channel, Gribbel Island<br><br>
Ursula Channel, Gribbel Island

Dolphins playing off our bow
Dolphins playing off our bow

 


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