Sunday, June 20, 2021 Distance: 95 miles Hours: 8 Cumulative distance since Everett, WA: 799 miles
Les’ Log Notes
We awoke at 4:00am to listen to the latest weather forecasts and reports. Every wave height indicator was “2 feet or less” or “1 meter or less”. The Central Dixon Entrance Buoy showed 1.3 feet, as low as I’ve seen it in a while. Winds were forecast for light and variable as they shift toward the northwest later today. We were moving away from our anchorage in Pillsbury Cove shortly before 5:00 and took our time following the Venn Passage out to Chatham Sound. The passage wasn’t bad – it was near low tide, and we never saw less than 13 feet. We took the north route around Tugwell Island, which some guides imply should be run at or near high tide, and we saw no less than 20 feet through that section.
Chatham Sound proved to be very smooth. We picked up increasing chop as we approached Dundas and Green Islands, but that subsided north of Dundas, where we experienced smooth swells with long periods. We maintained 15-17mph throughout the crossing, and arrived in Ketchikan by 11:00am Alaska time. We stopped for gas on the way into the harbor and were assigned a slip in Bar Harbor South basin. We noted something was amiss when we arrived in Ketchikan… it was sunny and clear! I am told this issue will be resolved within the next day. (The average annual precipitation in Ketchikan is 141 inches, more than three times Seattle’s average annual precipitation.
After 9 days since leaving Roche Harbor and not being able to walk farther than the length of a fuel dock, we were in dire need of real showers and clean laundry. With those priorities taken care of, we had a nice meal at the local Mexican food restaurant. It’s both satisfying and relieving to have completed this section of our trip. We’re now free to divert to places as we choose, and to travel as short a distance as we want each day.
It looks as if there’s a nasty storm coming in Wednesday and Thursday, so we will likely stay put until it passes.
Trip Summary for Everett to Ketchikan
Total (statute)* miles 799
Total days: 12
Days from Roche Harbor to Ketchikan: 9
Gas used: 269 gallons
Cumulative mpg: 2.97
Our mileage stats are in statute miles, as that’s how the chart plotters are configured. We’ve always had them set that way, since nearly all of our previous cruising has been on inland lakes and rivers, where distances are charted in statute, rather than nautical miles.
Yesterday, we woke to a pinkish-orange sunrise, silhouetting the pine covered landscape on the bay, where had anchored for our last time in Canadian waters for awhile. As Les mentioned smooth seas and sunshine led our way to Ketchikan, Alaska. I saw “my” seal pop its head out along the way, as if to say, “many joys await you.” I call it my seal, because, a harbor seal greeted us at the boat ramp in Everett, Washington, and I’ve seen a single seal at almost each inlet or bay that we moored/anchored in along the way. A friend passed along this symbolic meaning of the seal: ” . . . humor, ease of movement, good fortune, playfulness and joyful disposition. The seal is a reminder to enjoy life.” Very fitting for our journey.
We were greeted by a friendly attendant at the gas dock, and she asked about our journey. It fun to share my excitement of the budding summer adventures ahead of us. She said the sunshine was unusual, and that it had been “hot” on Saturday, in the 70s with no breeze. I smiled to myself knowing that family in Missouri and Arizona have hit highs in the 100s this past week. It’s all perspective, right?
Our passage from Washington to Alaska was one of the smoothest transits that could be expected. We really had one day of chop and the rest was pleasant puttering along the scenic waterways or cruising along the challenging, more open water at a comfortable speed to avoid getting caught in lumpy waters in late afternoons. We routinely woke at 4am and went to bed at 8:30pm after 8-12 hour days traveling on the water. So now that we’re at our destination, the pace is changing. We can sleep in. We don’t have to get anywhere and if the weather gets “snotty,” we can hunker down in our cabin and surf the internet or read a book or take a nap.
Coming into Ketchikan harbor was the end of this portion of the remote nature settings, and back into the hustle and bustle of an active port. Just before leaving the gas dock, the wakes of passing boats rocked our boat quite aggressively; Les was catching his balance inside and I was holding tight to the ropes I had loosened. (We were getting ready to leave the dock, when the wake took us by surprise. That experience reminded me that as boaters, we can’t let our guard down, even when we’re at our destination. We needed to be alert all the way to the marina.) I was a little shook up, and forgot that coming into an unknown situation is always a bit more stressful, than the excitement of arriving. We still had to call into the harbormaster to get a slip assignment, a water runway for seaplanes had to be avoided, and then we had to navigate into a unfamiliar marina to find our spot. The first spot suggested for us, was tightly packed in (we would have needed to do the equivalent of parallel parking to get into a space. We called the harbormaster again. He assigned us another spot, near where boats were off loading their catch of the day. We managed to get tied off without bumping into other boats. I find getting into a slip and putting the boat on and off the trailer very stressful. So once we were settled, I blew off a little steam by taking a nap. And Les went to the marina office. When he got back, we realized the slip we were assigned didn’t have hook-up for shore power. Ugh! We batted solutions around, and then just decided to wait for a bit. Once we were a little more settled, we called the harbormaster again and asked if we could get a slip with power. Thankfully we only had to move over one dock and not go down to the other end of the harbor.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 The Message)