Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Petersburg, AK

Tuesday May 20, 2008
Location: Petersburg, Alaska
Lat/Lon: 56.8096°N 132.9672°W
Weather: Hi 56° F, Sunny, winds 5 kts

After some windy and rainy weather in Ketchikan we've hit a patch of sunny and mild weather. From Ketchikan we went to Vixen Harbor ( 55.7988°N 132.1723°W) and sat out one day of heavy rain and wind gusts over 50kts. Vixen is a secure bay with good holding so we were safe and secure. From there the weather started to improve. We then spent two days in Santa Anna Inlet and then went onto Petersburg where the weather has been sunny and calm. Today may set a record high temperature, beating the old record of 55°.

On the way out of Ketchikan we stopped to take on some fuel at the Petro Marine fuel dock, the lowest priced fuel dock in Ketchikan. The price was $4.21 per gal including tax. Eight years ago oil was near $20 per barrel, today it's $127 per barrel!

Here's some stats on our trip from Anacortes, WA to Ketchikan, AK

Days Traveled – 31
NM Traveled – 713
Engine Hours – 112
GenSet Hours – 43
Fuel Consumed Total – 293 gals
Fuel Consumed by Furnace – 47 (average 1.5 gal/day)
Fuel Consumed by GenSet – 11
Fuel Consumed by Main – 236
GPH – 2.10
Average NMPH – 6.37

Note: NM = Nautical Miles = 6078 ft = 1.15 land miles

The schedule from here includes anchorages in Thomas Bay, Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island, Takatz Bay on Baranof Island, and then through Peril Strait to Sitka by June 1st.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ketchikan Alaska

Location: Ketchikan Alaska
Lat/Lon: 55.3502°N 131.6838°W
Weather: Hi 55° F Low 44° F, Overcast with rain. Winds 10-20 kt
Day 32, 713 NM from Anacortes

Note: Try the new link on the right for 'Web Photo Album' for more photo's.

Ketchikan is the first town that you come to when you enter SE Alaska by boat but it is not where you spend you first night in Alaska. It's 90 NM from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, too long for a 7 kt boat like ours, so we, like many people, will stop in Foggy Bay (54.9504°N 130.9433°W) on the north side of Dixon Entrance. Foggy Bay is in AK but the US Customs recognizes that most boaters can not make it to Ketchikan in one day and will overnight in Foggy Bay so when you clear US Customs in Ketchikan you state that Prince Rupert was your last port of call.

One of the things that strikes me most when we get into Alaska is the number of eagles and how close they are. They are not some remote bird you watch through binoculars at a distance like you do down south in the lower 48. Up here eagles are like sea gulls in a southern city. Around the marina they fly so close you can hear their wings passing through the air. They are a striking bird, seemingly enjoying flying in and around the masts and high poles of the fishing boats, occasionally plucking a fish out of the water and sitting for hours above your head on light posts and masts.

We're going to stay in Ketchikan for a few days waiting for some packages from down south and for the weather to improve a little. A few days after leaving Anacortes our alternator regulator started to act up, letting the alternator put out over 15 v to the batteries. I called Balmar and after some discussion and testing they agreed to send a new regulator to us in Ketchikan. Fortunately we had a spare regulator, not a new 'smart' one but a functional, working one. We're also waiting for a new Pactor modem for our SSB radio. There's nothing wrong with the current one but we've had some issues with Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and decided to upgrade to a Bluetooth version of the modem to try to reduce the RFI. The supplier for our SSB equipment (HFRadio.com in Oakland) agreed to send us a new Bluetooth modem and give us full credit for our existing modem. Thanks Don! The marina here will not accept packages for us so we're using a private mail store just down the street as a mailing address. They only charge $1 per package.

So here we sit in the rain and wind waiting for better weather and for packages to arrive. If the weather improves (no sign of that in the current 5 day forecast) then we might move on and have the packages forwarded to Petersburg. If not, we'll wait. One real nice thing about Alaska is that the marinas are cheap, $30 per day for us vs. nearly $70 in Canada.

More later.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prince Rupert BC

Tuesday May 6, 2008

Day 23, 623 miles to date
Location: Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Lat/Lon: 54°19.233'N, 130°19.190'W
Weather: Hi 55° F Low 44° F, Overcast and rain

We're in Prince Rupert, less than 30 miles from Alaska. We've had a good passage through BC, mostly fair weather with low clouds and rain most of the time but lite winds and seas. We had a good crossing of Cape Caution in 2m swells but we had the paravanes down and the fish in the water so we, and the kids, were comfortable. Our anchor winch motor died while anchoring in Pruth Bay but the caretaker at the lodge was nice enough to let us tie up at the dock while we replaced the motor with the spare we carried. We stopped in the small outpost of Shearwater for a night and had a nice meal in the restaurant with Art & Diane. We were the only two pleasure boats in the marina. We spent a night at the old cannery Butedale. The moorage consists of tieing up to large logs held together with rope with boards nailed on the top to simulate a dock but the stop is worthwhile just to talk with the caretaker Lou who has lived here year around for the last 6 years. He is a wealth of local knowledge and loves to talk. He receives no salary for being the caretaker other than the moorage he collects and the proceeds from the sale of the art work he makes over the winter.

Prince Ruppert is a town of around 15K people whose existence is built around fishing and being the terminus of the only highway and railroad line to NW Canada. They have a huge bulk grain and coal loading terminal. We're waiting here for a weather window to cross Dickson Entrance, the large body of water that separates Canada and Alaska. Dickson can be a mess at times when storms pass over but like the other crossings we've made, we'll take our time and pick the right day to cross so we'll have fair seas.

Our HF SSB radio is working well and we're able to get emails almost daily via our SailMail account so if you have that email address please send emails letting us know how you're doing.

We'll post more when we get to Ketchikan, hopefully within 4 days.