We departed Prince Rupert at 5 AM this morning for the 83 NM run to Ketchikan. The weather forecast called for even milder conditions than we expected and we had an easy, smooth crossing of Dixon Entrance, the last “gate” to Alaska from the Seattle area.
Our friends Ted and Sarah on Sanwan ran a bit ahead of us ang got a spot at the centrally located Casey Moran floats, right where the cruise ships dock. They said there was room for a 50 ft boat right across from them.
Did I mention that our boat is actually 51 feet long? We just barely squeezed into the spot.
This was after they helped move the fishing boat behind us back a few feet…
Plenty of room, right?
So here we are, finally in Alaska! We will stay in Ketchikan for two days to provision and fuel up, then off to explore.
The view. Apparently the cruise ships depart at 5 each day.
Yesterday was a long cruise in our push toward Prince Rupert, our last stop in British Columbia. We ended the day anchored in Lowe Inlet, another beautiful anchorage. Late in the evening 9 fishing boats came in and anchored around us, and left early in the morning.
On our way, we were accompanied for a good part of the trip by 3 Canadian Navy vessels obviously on training runs. They ran next to us, crossed in front of us, generally seemed to be trying things out.
Once we were anchored, Larry was determined to get some crab. We have heard that a good location is in front of areas with fresh water outlet, like in front of this waterfall at the head of the inlet, so that’s where he dropped the pot.
This morning, he was rewarded! 6 Dungeness crabs in the trap – 4 females which get returned to the water to keep producing more crabs, and 2 good size males which we will happily eat. They were quite fiesty – the one Larry is holding had his claw ripped off by other other one while they were floating around.
The cleaning station is one the back of the boat (in the cockpit). Larry very quickly cleaves the crab in half and removes the guts, then we store the two halves on ice until we are ready to cook and eat.
It can make for a mess, but we have a salt water wash down hose in the cockpit and can quickly wash the gore away. No fish guts allowed in my salon.
Yesterday began the waterfall section of our journey. We left at a reasonable hour (without any anchor hiccups) into fog through Jackson Narrows, up Finlayson Channel to Princess Royal Channel. Along the way we saw a number of waterfalls, and dolphins on our bow again!
We then took a right into Khutze Inlet. There are two marked anchorages in the Inlet, the first a rather odd location almost in the middle of the channel, and the other at the base of a spectacular waterfall. We weren’t sure if this was going to work – it is extremely deep most of the way – hundreds of feet, with a very small shelf near shore that shallows out very rapidly. The trick is to get your anchor in exactly the right place so it’s not too deep but deep enough so you don’t go aground in low tide.
We were fortunate to get there at low tide so we could see all the possible obstacles. The only other boat was a superyacht named Sherpa which anchored in deep water.
We are speculating as to who owns it – Ted recalls a newspaper article about it a few weeks ago when it passed through Seattle, but until we get internet access we won’t know for sure. It’s probably more fun to make up stories anyway.
We successfully anchored right at the base of a picture perfect waterfall.
We dingy explored up the Khutze river which empties into the Inlet looking for bears. We were finally rewarded with a brown bear on shore eating grass right before bedtime. We had already put the dingy up so couldn’t rush to get a closer picture.
Today will be our last day on the southern half of the Inside Passage according to the planning maps. We are heading for Lowe Inlet, by way of Hartley Bay. Tomorrow we will make it to Prince Rupert and prepare to enter Alaska by way of Dixon Entrance.
Tuesday morning was sunny and clear, a real contrast to the previous day. We prepared for a late morning departure to time the currents at Perceval Narrows on our way to Rescue Bay.
As we were pulling away from the dock, Triceratops paddled and peddled away in front of us to restart their wind and people powered Race to Alaska. We wished them a speedy journey as we passed them in the channel.
We had several interesting waypoints on the way to Rescue Bay. The first was this narrow rocky passage. Yes, we had to go through this.
We poked our nose into Milbanke Sound and felt some Pacific swells before turning into Perceval Narrows. The entry is fairly narrow and around a sharp right turn. We found lots of debris and logs in the channel. All uneventful since we had planned well and there was not significant current.
The rest of the journey up Mathieson Channel was peaceful and warm – Larry and I took turns napping on the bow in the sun.
Fortunately we were both awake when a frisky group of Dall’s porpoises decided to visit and ride our bow! It was incredibly cool to see up close how fast they are – they obviously had great sport jumping over the bulbous bow and riding our bow wave. Larry got a great video of them which we will post when we have better bandwidth.
We anchored in Rescue Bay and Ted and Sarah rafted to us.
We spent the evening watching birds diving, sea otters playing and watching the tide turn the bay into a large pond. We didn’t crab, since the otters dine on them there wouldn’t be any for us! Today we are heading to Kutze Bay. Currently we are passing the First Nations area of Klemtu so can make this blog update.
Today dawned rainy and chilly. We departed our anchorage with no issues after repositioning the chain in the chain locker so it did NOT pile up into a mountain and back up the winch when bringing it up – as it had the last 2 times we weighed anchor. Now that we are in deeper anchorages and putting out 200-300 feet of chain, the chain has had opportunity to cause excitement, at least for me. I have memories of the chain jumping the winch and dumping the anchor and the entire 400 feet of chain into the water while the wind was blowing and we were literally between the rocks and hard place – a friend’s boat – last year. I am still working to overcome my anxiety about retrieving the anchor, so these last few times of chain hiccups did not help. But today we now seem to have the kinks worked out.
Anyway, we proceeded to have a pleasant cruise to Shearwater, which is a small fishing village on Denny Island. You are seeing this blog post because they have good internet and cell phone service!
We wanted to check in to see if we could get some fresh produce and fishing and prawning bait. Since it is raining and gloomy, we decided to stay the night. Fortunately, we also got here on the day they receive their supplies, so lined up with others for the 1pm opening of the grocery store and had the pick of the fresh supplies.
Ted, Sarah and I then took the small ferry across the channel to the First Nations Village of Bella Bella, while Larry put out the first prawn trap of the season. Ted and Sarah had been to Bella Bella last year when work had just started to build a new Longhouse for the Heiltsuk nation, and it is nearing completion. We were fortunate enough to get a brief tour of the ongoing work which is scheduled to be completed and ready for potlatches in October. The smell of cedar was pervasive and wonderful.
Bella Bella is a small village, but had an impressive looking school. This is the totem in front of it from the commemoration about 20 years ago.
Walking on the dock back at Shearwater, we also saw the trimaran Triceratops that we had heard in distress on the radio yesterday – their rudder had broken and they needed assistance out in Queen Charlotte Strait. Turns out they are one of the Race to Alaska boats, all no-engine boats racing 750 miles from Port Townsend Washington to Ketchikan as fast as they can. He was fast at work crafting a new rudder and intends to continue on to complete the race – so we didn’t keep him too long talking!
Tomorrow we head for Rescue Cove. We are starting to watch the weather at Dixon Entrance, which will be our last significant challenge for crossing into Alaska.
On Saturday we raised the anchor at 5 AM to make the crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound around Cape Caution. This is one of two places along the Inside Passage that is open to the Pacific Ocean. It was an easy crossing, with very mild weather conditions. We did encounter some head seas just before the Cape that were big enough for our bulbous bow to come completely out of the water and slam back down. We had heard about this from other Nordhavn 50s… it was loud, but not a big deal. We arrived at Pruth Bay early in the afternoon after 55 miles underway.
Pruth Bay is on Calvert Island, and is home to the Hakai Beach Institute https://www.hakai.org/. There are well-maintained trails through the grounds that lead to spectacular sand beaches on the ocean side of the island. The trail to the North Beach was a bit adventurous but lots of fun.
My photos don’t do the place justice. We will update the post with some more when we get more than just a thread of connectivity.
On Sunday we traveled another 33 miles North to Codville Lagoon provincial park. We found the “easy” anchoring spots full… it seems that there are more boats than usual heading North this year. We dropped the anchor in somewhat deeper water (but typical of Alaska anchoring depths) and had a hell of a time getting our brand new, 138 lb anchor to set. We wound up dragging halfway across the anchorage before getting a good set. I am calling this strike one against the Sarca Excel anchor.
Our fresh water pump issues have continued. We keep thinking we have resolved the problem, only to have it crop up again a few hours later. Again last night, the pump must have overheated from constantly ticking over and would not start. I started rummaging through our stash of replacement pumps looking for a replacement different from the cursed Jabsco VFlo. I found a really heavy duty gear driven pump purchased in 2016 by the previous owners. It looked like a promising solution, but I was one fitting short of being able to plumb it in. I then pulled out another spare pump, a 2010 vintage Jabsco Par Max. Lower capacity, not variable speed… but it worked (at least so far).
We are off today to Shearwater for some provisions and crab/shrimp/fish bait. It’s been raining pretty steadily since yesterday afternoon, supposed to end this afternoon. At least it washes some of the accumulated salt off the boat.