S/V Hello World's Travel Log


june 26th - ketchikan, ak

We had a lovely trip to Ketchikan from Foggy Bay, through Danger Passage.

I still can't believe Jason would go through a place with that name, but we're coming to learn that place names have no bearing on what they are actually like. Foggy Bay was not foggy. Windy Bay was calm (though foggy). Desolation Sound is full of tourists. And Danger Passage? Not so dangerous.

As we got closer to Ketchikan, we started to see the parade of cruise ships.

On a typical day, they have four in town, which basically triples the size of the town until they leave for the evening. Or unless it’s raining, and then everyone seems to stay holed up on the ship. Or maybe they go to Walmart on the free shuttle, because isn’t that what you’d come to Alaska to do?

We did get to see one Disney ship. It seems they strive to replicate the entire Disney experience, even the line to get back on the ship.

Ketchikan is a pretty small town. Basically built into the side of a cliff. How many roads are there here, you ask? One. Well, unless you count this one:

Half of the town has a water view, the other half has waterfront property, including the grocery store (we watched a whale breaching from inside the Safeway) and two lumber yards. Which makes it hard to believe that it took me so long to stalk the UPS guy.

But stalk him I did. I had sent 2 packages to general delivery at the USPS. This is an awesome service that you can send stuff to anyone at any post office in the US. The post office holds on to it for 30 days and just waits for you to show up, whether you live there or not. Unless you ship something UPS or FedEx, which is the caveat that I was not aware of when I ordered replacement parts for our head. I was worried that the package would get returned to CT and I’d have to poop in a bucket for the next 3 months, so I stalked the UPS guy and was able to intercept the package. Success!

Next up, we’re heading into Misty Fjords National Monument doing a circumnavigation of Revillagigedo Island (try to say that out loud - it turns out none of the locals know how to pronounce it either – they all call it Revillo). That is if we can ever get out of Ketchikan. We were stuck here for a few days stalking UPS and now the weather has turned, so it might be a while.

Fortunately, we’ve found a local bar that rivals The Sloop, our local bar at home. We’re already getting free drinks there, so we might stick around for a while.

A few other pics from around Ketchikan:

Creek Road - where the brothels used to be back in the day

Saxman Totem Park

Apparently there were no flat spaces in town until the tide went out - so back in the 20's they had to finish their baseball games before the tide came back in!

You may want to think twice before booking a cruise on Silversea

55° 21.0579'N 131° 41.1286'W

I heart big johnsons

Get your mind out of the gutter. This is a post about outboards.

June 21st, Foggy Bay

In round 1 of cruising, we went out with a Yamaha 6hp 2 stroke as our outboard. It's the motor that came with the boat and really worked well (for the most part). It could plane our dinghy with one of us in it, but not both. And that's just not terribly fun. So we upgraded to a 15hp Johnson. We stuck with a 2 stroke because they are so much lighter. And now? Our dinghy is much...more...fun. We take can take off from the boat and explore places we don't dare take Hello World, like Very Inlet. We anchored at the outer-most bay (Foggy Bay) and then dinghy explored into all of these inner lagoons and channels. At least until we ran into some rapids.

The dinghy actually goes fast now. So fast that it scared the crap out of me the first time we took it around the breakwater in Seattle. And I don't scare easily. I live on a boat for god sakes. I like to climb the mast. This dinghy scared me. But now? Oh how I love it.

For those of you who haven't read the Log of the Sea of Cortez (Steinback), I'd highly recommend it - one of my favorite passages concerns their not-so-reliable outboard that they dubbed the Sea-Cow:

We observed the following traits in it and we were able to check them again and again:

1. Incredibly lazy, the Sea-Cow loved to ride on the back of a boat, trailing its propeller daintily in the water while we rowed.

2. It required the same amount of gasoline whether it ran or not, apparently being able to absorb this fluid through its body walls without recourse to explosion. It had always to be filled at the beginning of every trip.

3. It had apparently some clairvoyant powers, and was able to read our mind, particularly when they were inflamed with emotion. Thus, on every occasion when we were driven to the point of destroying it, it started and ran with a great noise and excitement. This served the double purpose of saving its life and of resurrecting in our minds a false confidence in it.

4. It had many cleavage points, and when attached with a screwdriver, fell apart in simulated death, a trait it had in common with opossums, armadillos, and several members of the sloth family, which also fall apart in simulated death when attached with a screwdriver.

5. It hated Tex, sensing perhaps that his knowledge of mechanics was capable of diagnosing its shortcomings.

6. It completely refused to run: (a) when the waves were high, (b) when the wind blew, (c) at night, early morning, and evening, (d) in rain, dew, or fog, (e) when the distance to be covered was more than two hundred yards. But on warm, sunny days when the weather was calm and the white beach close by—in a word, on days when it would have been a pleasure to row—the Sea-Cow started at a touch and would not stop.

7. It loved no one, trusted no one. It had no friends.

We didn't do a whole lot in Foggy Bay besides dinghy exploring. We were relieved that our crossing of Dixon Entrance was ridiculously calm:

and excited that we were back in the US! (mostly because liquor and cheese are normally priced again). We had to get special permission to anchor in Foggy Bay before clearing customs in Ketchikan, but apparently they give the OK to anyone that calls. Maybe we're not as special as we thought.

One more indication that we're back in Alaska - beware of trap lines!

At the end of one of the lagoons. Sadly, no bears.

54° 57.051'N 130° 56.385'W

farewell to british columbia

Before this trip, we'd never ventured north of Cape Scott. There was a whole other half of the British Columbia coast north of Cape Caution that we knew nothing about.

Now that we've seen at least a portion of this coast, we're happy to say it was worth the trip. At several points, we had to skip places we really wanted to see just in order to get to Alaska at some point this summer. We found ourselves often saying "we'll catch that on the way back down next year". Here's hoping we have time to see everything we want to the next time around.

june 15th - lowe inlet

Once you hit the central B.C. you are presented with all sorts of routing options. The most interesting options usually takes you to the outer islands. These routes are full of remote islands and beautiful sand beaches. These routes are also exposed to the swell and weather in Hecate Straight which means these routes make for rolly, windy and uncomfortable travel.

If that's not your cup of tea, you can follow the cruise ship route which usually means long, narrow channels protected from whatever nastiness is brewing out in Hecate Straight.

Our initial impression was of course, we were going to run the outside route. We're all about the remote islands and beautiful sand beaches. However, after a few days of traveling on the outside, we were reminded that we're also all about traveling in comfort. And these routes were not proving comfortable with the weather we were getting. So we made a game time choice to go back to the inside route and follow the cruise ships north.

The central and north B.C. coast (click on the image to see a larger version). The large stretch of water between the coast and the Queen Charlotte islands is Hecate Straight.

Grenville Channel is the longest, narrowest channel and known locally as "the ditch". We didn't have high hopes for our run up Grenville. However, as it turns out, it was really beautiful. And? Flat calm. We're all about that.

We anchored in Lowe Inlet to wait out a 40 knot gale brewing in Hecate Straight. During our stay, we were visited by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) boat. They were incredibly polite while they interviewed us to make sure we were on the up and up. Either we were on the up and up, or they couldn't be bothered to arrest us.

june 18th - prince rupert

After a few days of working our way up Grenville Channel and the surrounding area, we finally arrived at our last stop in British Columbia. Prince Rupert is a pretty cool city (well, it has a population of 12,000 so maybe city is overstating things but compared to where we'd been, Prince Rupert is a veritable Singapore). We spent a few days dealing with boat parts, buying an inflatable paddle board so Christy can get off the boat and excercise without getting eaten by a bear, and getting caught up on interwebs.

Apparently, Prince Rupert is not only one of the few ice-free deep water ports in North America that can handle every type of ship you can throw at her, it's also 2 days closer to Asia (via the great circle route) than other west coast ports. We saw a lot of commercial traffic coming in and out while we were there.

After we had all our chores done, we started looking for a weather window to cross Dixon Entrance and into Alaska.

54° 19.206'N 130° 19.121'W

bishop bay hot springs

June 13th

I'm sure there's some very good geological reason that there are a bunch of hot springs up this way, I just don't know what it is. We're starting to get into the land of hot springs and Bishop Bay was our first stop. This spring is in the middle of nowhere. I was expecting a few cabins, or a house or something in this inlet. Nothing. Just a hot spring. With a fantastic building surrounding it and concrete pools to contain the water. The structure and dock were built by the Prince Rupert Yacht Club (about 80 miles away by boat). Very impressive.

Also impressive? The number of logs this place attracts. It's like the Pacific Gyre but for logs.

This particularly large one was threatening the fishing boats at the dock, so we hopped in the dinghy post-soak and tried to pull it away.

It was probably 80 feet long and big enough that I had no qualms about hoping on it to tie on a line. And stable enough that I didn't put on a log rolling show!

We probably burned through 4 gallons of gas moving it about 5 feet, but it was enough to let the fishing boats safely move to the other side of the dock. Yay for our new (to us) outboard!

53° 28.100'N 128° 50.200'W


June 9th - Kynoch Inlet

Technically, we're a sailboat. We have a mast and sails and all the accessories you need to sail. We have lines everywhere. We know how to tie knots. We can pronounce "leeward" correctly.

Don't let that fool you. We rarely ever sail. At least up here in the north. Most of the time the wind is either howling like a banshee or dead calm. And since we're navigating through narrow channels, the wind is directly behind us or dead nuts on the nose. There are very few instances where we have decent wind (8 to 20 knots) coming from a decent direction (not dead nuts on the nose). So we motor just about everywhere we go. Up here we're a powerboat with a really great VHF antenna.

However, every now and again, we will get a confluence of wind speed and direction that's just begging for a sail. And so it was on the day we pulled anchor out of Rescue Bay headed north into British Columbia's fjordlands. The sun was shining. There was a nice 10 knot breeze coming directly behind us. We set up the whisker pole, pulled out our genoa and shut off the engine. Bliss. We had a beautiful sail the rest of the afternoon up Mathieson Channel.

Our destination was Kynoch Inlet. Our new friends on s/v Maclas, Kara and Chris, highly recommended we see Kynoch. Since they've spent the last six years plying the waters of the BC central coast, we were hard pressed to disagree. Our friends Greg and Nicole on s/v Baraka seconded the recommendation. Kynoch Inlet did not disappoint.

Our fancy whisker pole setup finally gets some use.

A sneak peek into Mussel Inlet.

Mathieson Channel.

Checking out Kynoch Falls.

The view from our anchorage the next morning.

Dropping anchor was a little exciting. These fjords are very deep all the way back until the end in an estuary. The water depth went from 100' deep to 13' deep in about a boat length. So we anchored out in 100' and once again, thanked our new windlass for pulling up all that chain the next day. No sooner had we gotten settled in when we spied our first brown bear and her two cubs munching the grass in the estuary. We spent a rainy night at anchor and took off the next morning.

We continued north into Mussel Inlet, the fjordlands becoming more impressive the farther we went. We found another beautiful waterfall in Oatswish Bay. And since we're pretty vain about our boat, we decided to drop the dinghy and take some photos of Hello World.

June 10th, Windy Bay

We continued down Sheep Passage and into Windy Bay for the night. We woke up the next morning to the kind of torrential rainfall that almost looks like fog. Cockpit enclosure or no, we decided that was as good a reason as any to light the heater and spend the day in bed listening to the rain. Christy did drop a crab trap and took some photos of the fog that rolled in after the rain.

Pleading with us not to eat him. (burp)

52° 45.260'N 127° 53.305'W

The fallacy of free food

Someday, we'll move to a house and I'll have a garden. That's pretty much the only thing I really crave that I can't have on the boat. But I've found that instead of growing our own food, I find just as much enjoyment from fishing and foraging. If I don't have to buy it, I get pretty darn excited.

It has recently come to my attention (eh hem, Jason) that this is not, in fact, free food. So I did the calculations. Turns out Jason is right*. Not even close. Turns out I've spent a lot on crab and prawn traps, line, lures, poles, bait, you name it. We're were down to $54/meal there for a second, until I just blew $145 on an Alaskan fishing license.

How much is that store-bought crab again?

*I'm not sure it was the right move to admit this publicly...

Pruth Bay

Cruiser lore abounds up here. Where to go, where not to go. Go on the outside, go inside. As Jason likes to say, ask 10 cruisers a question and you're likely to get 11 opinions. But we universally heard that we should make a stop at Pruth Bay. A quick hike would bring us to a glorious beach.

And they weren't kidding.

It reminded us of Isla San Francisco in Mexico, but with trees.

Not only one amazing beach, lots of hidden beaches along the best trail ever.

Boardwalks galore at this place, I tell you! I don't know how far we hiked - maybe 3 miles and kept walking across boardwalks. Kudos to the people that lug those boards all the way out there!

While I found ways to entertain myself...

Jason found ways to entertain himself as well.

The Hakai Research Institute here seems to not only offer an amazing resource to the people on the central coast of BC, but also maintain the trails and take care of the cruising boats - this place is great.

Who doesn't like a place with yurts!!! Built on an old tennis court!

And the crab??? Best crabbing yet - 11 keepers in the pot at once. I started throwing back the "small" ones until I realized I could make some friends in the anchorage by giving some away. Needless to say, there was a crab boil that night on a giant converted fishing boat (with a stateroom in the old fish hold - love it!).

51° 39.244'N 128° 07.505'W