British Columbia to Ketchikan, Alaska

We actually slipped through BC so fast that I have not had time to update our blog.  Our goal, unlike last year when we took a month to go from Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska, was to make it here by the 10th of May, which makes it a 10 day trip.  We were up every morning at the crack of dawn and cruised for between 8 and 13 hours.  We met up with our friends Braun and Tina on Grey Pearl in Campbell River.

The next morning took some planning as we had to pass through the Seymour Narrows, where the current runs at over 14kts either with you or against you and I really did not want to go through that.  Fortunately for us, we were able to leave at sunrise and pass through the narrows at almost slack tide.

All of the work we had done to the boat over the last 7 months was due a good trial run.  Unfortunately, we had workers on our boat right up until the day we departed, so …our trip to Alaska had become our trial run.  We DID have a few glitches in our systems, but nothing that would stop our trip.  Our generator, which we just had installed, had what turned out to be a faulty electronic governor which was causing the frequency to waver back and forth between 58 and 62 cycles, and fairly quickly. By the time we had gotten to Alaska, it had become unbearable and we had to switch to our hydraulic cruising generator, which……was another item that had not been tested since revamping last fall. FORTUNATELY, it worked like a charm and we had power all the way to Alaska. I think today we will have the other generator up and running correctly.  We also had a buzzing VHF radio and had to use our backup. That turned out to be a faulty microphone and is now working correctly.  Let’s see, we also had a problem with our new Navnet 2 radar system where the monitor would suddenly turn green and fuzzy.  I am not sure we have gotten to the bottom of that one yet but it did clear up when I gave the back side of the VEI monitor a whack.  I have contacted the dealer who sold it to me and he hopefully will send us a new one before we leave Alaska.

After Campbell River, we went to an old favorite from last season, Lagoon Cove.  Other than being a charming little marina in the middle of nowhere, the owners, Bill and Jean, are among the most hospitable people that you will ever meet.  It is kind of like coming home to family when you pull in.  I hesitate to admit, but I will anyway, that I had a SIGNIFICANT birthday on May 4th, our day of arrival there.  It was NOT my 50th, either (how I wish). We had a great little party on Seabird, attended by our guests, my sister and brother in law Diane and Mike and Braun and Tina from Grey Pearl.  We supplied the tenderloin and Grey Pearl supplied the fresh prawns that they caught that day.  Many gifts were given to me, which partly offset my dismay over my approach to Medicare and Social Security. Afterward, we trekked up to Bill and Jean’s house where they served birthday cake and gave me a beautiful embroidered Lagoon Cove jacket and hat. It was a great time and we will really miss them after we leave.

After a few more quick overnight stops at Sullivan Bay, Codville Bay and Hartly Bay, we arrived in Prince Rupert, BC, the last stop before Alaska.  Last year we were unable to get reservations and had to either anchor or raft against a commercial pier and the weather was just HORRIBLE.  Cold and rainy.  This year, the weather cooperated and so did the marina management.  Both Grey Pearl and Seabird got a slip.  There was great internet and lousy power, but it was a fun stop anyway.  We dined at the famed Cow Bay Café, a tiny little bistro near the marina.  It seems that because Ken and Roberta on Sans Souci are a few days ahead of us, EVERYBODY knows what we are doing.  In the restaurant, they asked where we are cruising to and we responded “Alaska, Siberia and Japan” and the response was always “oh….are you going with that other guy, what’s the name of his boat?” Sans Souci, I replied and they would say “oh yeah he was in here a few days ago to have dinner!”.  So our balloon was burst at nearly every stop, but we were very happy to meet up with Ken, Roberta and Shelby-dog when we arrived in Ketchikan the next day. It was REALLY NICE to be back in Ketchikan again.  The last time we were here, you had to arrive and hope that the harbormaster had a slip available for you with power.  It worked good last year, but if you left your slip to get fuel, it might be gone by the time you got back.  This year we made reservations at Ellis Floats, a small, three or four slip marina just outside of town. It’s a bit quieter than  the town docks, but the power is better, they have good wireless internet and the fuel barge comes right to your boat (they dock here too).

As soon as we arrived I started making phone calls to various repair guys to try to fix the nagging little problems that we had left with the boat. I contacted Hatton Marine in Seattle who promptly sent up the repair parts for my generator.  I found a local guy here, Lonnie Adams, who was able to make and rewrap the insulation around my dry exhaust (no small feat in a 24hr period! Thanks Lonnie).  We also had a nagging vibration in our exhaust pipe, which runs from the engine room to about 20 feet above the aft deck.  I contacted Al Taylor at Alaska Ship and Drydock here in Ketchikan and, what great service they gave us!  Alaska Ship is a boatyard that specializes in building and repairing HUGE ships. While my boat was being repaired, Al was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility. What makes them special is that they have these gigantic floating docks that, after filling the chambers with water, actually sink, allowing the ships to drive in.  When they pump all the water out, the ship is high and dry and ready to be worked on.  They are also building a steel jet powered SWATH navy ship which has icebreaking capability.  It is powered by 4 5000 hp motors and looks like a catamaran. Seabird looked VERY SMALL at that yard.  By comparison, my work was very minor but they treated me like I was their best customer. I think that is just how the people in Alaska are.  Soooo…..most of my problems are fixed but we did have one little scare.  When we got to the drydock, Carol came running up the pilothouse stairs yelling for me to shut the engines down because the engine room was filled with smoke.  Oh boy….I thought, let it be something minor and not a fire, but any smoke is never a minor issue in the engine room.  It turned out to be the residue from the new exhaust wrapping that was burning off (completely normal).

Yesterday Ken asked us all to make videos that he can post on Youtube about the trip.  I hope that I do not live to regret it………(One late note…I did the video and I will live to regret it…calm down, its definitely PG rated, but not necessarily politically correct).

Last night’s dinner got a little out of hand after watching the videos on our tv and everyone ended up installing my sister Diane’s famous “lemon teeth” in their mouths.  I think Ken may be posting those pics on his blog so I cannot be blamed for embarrassing anyone on MY website.

As I finish this Blog the generator is running fine.  I ended up dismantling the electronic speed governor and installed the original solenoid letting the generator rely on the mechanical governor.  I have not given up on it yet.  We needed a generator for the next part of the trip so I caved in to old fashioned technology.

Next stop is Wrangell.  Ken and Roberta leave tomorrow (Wednesday) and we leave for there on Thursday am.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Great video and GREAT sense of humour guys ?, WELL DONE!

    I guess that to do what you are doing you will need buckets of it, right?
    Great also to hear that you are all well and reunited.

    Sonaia Hermida
    Goleen NH57

  2. Pirates beware… great video! I can’t wait to see you guys in “sushi chef” attire in one of your next satires.

    Robert Avila

  3. Why aren’t you updating your blog????

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