Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Or did I say Ketchikan?

Details, details, details. It's all in the details, isn't it? I'm reading John Vaillant's "The Golden Spruce" which takes place on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Island) and Connie is reading Jonathan Rabin's "Passage to Juneau." Both those books talk about the treacherous Queen Charlotte Strait and the evil conditions that result there when wind opposes current. So much for pleasure reading. We are headed directly for Queen Charlotte Strait.

I spent time pawing through our two marine guides, "The Waggoner" and "Exploring the Inside Passage to Alaska". In order to get everything I can out of these guides I have to spend hours tracing routes and reading about approaches, comparing the two books. Where one leaves off, the other might go into more detail. Plus, I've got the BC charts on my little chart plotter so I can measure distances and figure currents at various times of the day. The upshot of all this study (think of me in the cockpit, holding books on the table, reading by headlamp during my midnight shift) is a strong conviction that if Traveler is to take the safe route, she will avoid driving against the current. After entering Dixon Entrance, we'd have about 60 miles to go before entering Prince Rupert. Entering on a slack, we'd be able to run with the flood for 6 hours (30 miles) before it starts to turn ebb, current against us. Then we'd be stuck, struggling to make our easting. No bueno.

If instead, we run in with the flood and stay to the north of the channel, we'll make Point Chacon by slack water and be able to pull into one of the secure anchorages there. This will be in the state of Alaska so it will be perfectly legal. Note that we cannot anchor in Canada without checking in at Prince Rupert first. So Alaska it is.

Ketchikan is just around the corner from Point Chacon, about 30 miles. So if we anchor for the night, celebrate our arrival with champagne, then proceed the next morning we can catch the flood again that will wisk us into Ketchikan. Ketchikan, where no passport for Randy is needed. Ketchikan, where Alaska Airlines has two non-stop flights a day to Seattle. Ketchikan, where we can watch chain saw and log climbing competitions along with a thousand cruise ship passengers. While Ketchikan is further away from Seattle than Prince Rupert, the benefits of pulling in there outweigh arguments against.

Since we were not planning on going to Alaska, we don't have paper charts. I'm sure they'll sell us some. And we'll need tide and current tables because from here on out, everything will be taking place in tidal channels where the way to go is with the flow. I'm pretty happy thinking about it because cruising the inside passage means that we get to anchor every night. No more night shifts!

But I better not count our salmon before they are hatched. First we must get to land. Land fall is about 230 miles away right now. Three more nights at sea. We'll time it to arrive just offshore at 06:00, right at slack tide at the Dixon Entrance.

Scott, Connie, and Randy

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