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Old 10-07-2011, 23:24   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Olympia, WA
Boat: San Juan 28
Posts: 214
Olympia, WA => Ketchikan, AK

Hello everyone! Having spent the last two years on here picking people's brains about boats, anchors, charts, sail handling, gadgets, routing, customs, radio use, etc, I thought I'd report in on my first major cruise.

We (a good friend and I) left May 16th from Olympia, WA, headed for Ketchikan, on my San Juan 28. We had an awesome month and a half of sailing, and made it into Ketchikan on July 8th. Currently docked at the City Floats, a good central spot. Four cruise ships just left and I think the city population went down by a factor of 10.

We have sailed about 65% of the trip. Windless days, schedules, opposing currents, miserable weather, and laziness account for the remaining 35%. The weather and seasonal winds should be much more helpful on our return.

We have anchored about half the time, and tied to docks and mooring balls the other half. Before leaving I upgraded my 12lb Danforth to a Rocna 10 (22lb) with 50' of 5/16 chain. I have been quite pleased with it. The only issue was one grassy bottom that took three tries to get a solid bite.

The weather has been great. There has been some rain but I still feel like it's been less than the average amount. Aside from one miserable week, it's just been a few showers here and there.

The four significant (significant for me) crossings were:

1) Strait of Juan De Fuca. We took Deception Pass at slack and skipped the more open crossing from Point Wilson. Rounded the south end of Lopez with no issues. 15-20 kts of an opposing westerly.

2) Cape Caution. We left Allison Harbor and rounded Cape Caution with no issues at all. 5-8 foot swell and light southwesterly.

3) Milbanke Sound. Ugly crossing! Much bigger seas than predicted. An uncomfortable several hours in very choppy, close, 8-10 foot swells.

4) East Dixon (Dundas Island to Ketchikan). Very light winds, motored the whole way. A boring day!

We still have the most significant two crossings left: to and from the Queen Charlotte Islands. We plan to do this next week, as soon as we get a very good weather window.

We have navigated several narrows with minimal issues. Seymour Narrows, with its 17 knot currents, can get very ugly, but we timed it right and saw a pod of Orcas along the way. Due to timing and impatience, we hoped to negotiate Whirlpool Rapids during an opposing current, but we were overpowered and just couldn't get through, so we waited a few hours, accidentally lost a $250 fishing rig over the side, and tried again.

No major issues encountered in Johnstone Strait, which a few books and people had me (I think?) overly worried about.

I think the most beautiful place I've ever been was Ocean Falls, BC. It is a fjord inlet with two small towns at the end, one being the control center for a major hydroelectric operation at a large waterfall. The mountains made me feel like I was docked at 8,000 feet.

Hoping to be back in Olympia by September 10th. If anyone has suggestions for stops on the way home, I would love to hear them! We plan to favor the mainland side (Broughtons, Desolation Sound, etc) rather than the Vancouver Island side on the way home.
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Old 10-07-2011, 23:39   #2
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Re: Olympia, WA -> Ketchikan, AK

Excellent and congratulations Arch...that's some beautiful trip...
Thanks for including us.

S/V Arctic Lady
I love my boat, I can't afford not to!
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Old 18-07-2011, 11:09   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Olympia, WA
Boat: San Juan 28
Posts: 214
Heading from Prince Rupert to Brown Entrance tomorrow to hunker down and wait for a good crossing window for Hecate Strait to fulfill the ultimate goal of this trip, sailing Haida Gwai.
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Old 18-07-2011, 19:55   #4
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The Jungles, etc

I haven't sailed the mainland side much, other than one trip via Yuculta. My preferred route is actually Surge Narrows.

I would actually encourage you to take the west coast of Vancouver Island. With the exception of Brooks Peninsula (which has a deserved reputation as a nasty headland) the coast is lovely, down wind and current, and many fjords and waterways to explore and anchor in. My favourite anchorage was Bull Harbour, before getting out from the inside passage, and my second was Winter Harbour waiting out a storm.

But if you're going to go inside, Port Neville is an amazingly quiet bolt-hole, despite the lumbering which was going on last time I was there. I've never gone all the way up the harbor, but hope to if I get into the water before September. There is a rock in the main channel, which I've never actually found. Rumour has it there are a number of houses being built near the mouth to Johnstone Strait.

If you can time things, Hole-In-The-Wall is the most gorgeous experience of a lifetime. (If you fail to time things, and survive, it is a mistake you will never forget. I've done both.) Waiatt Bay and the Octopus Islands are more popular every year, but a lovely anchorage. Propeller pass (Whiterock Passage), on the other hand, is kind of boring other than the adrenalin of how narrow the ditch is, leading marks.

Surge Narrows/Beazly Passage will pop you out near Reads Landing, now apparently called Surge Narrows General Store, and on the doorstep of Desolation Sound which many people can give better advice about than I can. (Although I love to anchor off Gorge Harbor Marina Resort for a dinner at the restaurant there.)

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog anchored in a coral atoll.
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