Originally Posted by Enyar
Yeah I think it would be Alaska or bust in 4 ish weeks because we're limited in school
vacation and sanity on a small sailboat. Plus there is the whole getting the boat up there thing which will be an adventure of itself. I'm sure there are plenty of beautiful places in BC but most of the sites start around Petersburg with some more treachorous stuff in BC (that might be nice to skip in a small boat)
All of the advice
already offered is golden.
Missing are any specifics that you and your family
desire to see...
We hang around BC; SE Alaska; Prince Wm Sound; Kodiak; etc. fulltime on our boat- and we are also familiar riding the ferry system with a truck camper and long trailers (but not a boat trailer...)
Since you mentioned you would be choosing to bypass the world class beauty of BC this time around, and also assuming you have to drive to Washington
state (from Florida
?) and assuming you want the most cost effective approach to getting the boat in the water
... I offer these thoughts of what i would do given my local knowldge of this entire NE Pacific coastline. (I'm also assuming you don't need a travellift to launch your boat from the trailer...)
Ferry options :
You can likely fit your truck and trailer on a state ferry (possibly depending upon the height of the boat on the trailer...)
Quickest way ($$$) to get boat and trailer to Alaska: If you boarded in say, Bellingham WA you could disembark in Ketchikan or Wrangell and launch from a ramp
or travellift. Check with the Alaska Marine
Highway System online for a quote. I suspect it will run you US$4k+ each way.
A more cost effective approach ($) would be to drive the ~1000 miles from WA border to Prince Rupert BC and either launch the boat from there, or get on a ferry to Wrangell ($$) or Ketchikan for a greatly reduced price
(I'll guess ~US$1500 each way.)
Launching in Prince Rupert would require waiting for weather
windows (coming and going) for crossing the exposed Dixon Entrance (~ 1/2 day crossing).
Then you would have to check in with US Customs
in Ketchikan on the way N, and Canadian Customs in Prince Rupert on the way back S.
Ketchikan is one option where your family
could fly in to to join you... (They would have to overnight in Seattle
to fly up to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, etc. as there is only one milkrun flight daily each direction...)
There is lots to see in the southern portion of SE Alaska originating in Ketchikan, and it would be reasonable for the 4 week period you mention.
Do a loop around Misty Fjords, stopping in Trators Cove to walk to the bear observation deck
from the float plane ramp in Margueritte Bay; working N to Myer's Chuck, even Wrangell. (There are also lots of other nooks and cranies for gunkholing...)
If you make it to Wrangell, there are three local day tours that would let you see lots in a brief period: Anan bear viewing area (black bears and grizzlies feeding on salmon); Le Conte Glacier (southernmost tidewater glacier) and the Stikine River (more glaciers, wildlife, etc.)
By then you will be needing to head back S to your point of launch.
Head back to Ketchikan or Prince Rupert along the E side of Prince of Wales Island (Clarence Strait- watch the Wx...) Stop in Craig, Thorn Bay, then Kasaan to see the totem park before crossing over to Ketchikan/Prince Rupert.
Be aware there are trade-offs with originating in Ketchikan in summer in that you will still see signs of the rat race
... In the summer, Ketchikan will have 4-5 large cruise ships docked there daily, 10's of thousands of individuals all vying for the sightseeing tours (air and water) and cell signals, so it is very busy... (e.g., While you might receive a strong cell signal, the chances of actually getting on the internet
are slim with the extra 25000 phones daily competing on infrastructure sized for far fewer... Perhaps as ore cruise ships adopt Starlink this traffic will be reduced...)
I would discourage going all the way to Skagway or Haines only because the long inlets they are located on often have winds opposed to the direction you desire to go- even in summer, and you need to transit 20-30+ miles between possible anchorages
. (Not to mention the very long drive up the AlCan to get there... and back)
Also previously mentioned was driving to Valdez and then launching into Prince William Sound (PWS)- which is Disneyland compared to SE Alaska being the State Fair... But PWS isn't part of the 'Inside Passage' you said was your goal this time... And it would take a minimum of 5 long days of driving each way from WA. (Double- even tripple- your driving time estimates on the AlCan highway- especially when towing a large heavy trailer... From my experience...)
But if you only get to boat in Alaska once, PWS is very high on the list of places to see, and that you can drive to...
I hope this sample 4 week itinerary focusing on the southern portion of SE Alaska gives you more food
Have fun planning!
PS: I should caution you that you wouldn't be the first to leave your boat up here... This is truly world class cruising...
PPS: As you tally the costs for your proposed BYOB[oat] vacation, you might find it is cheaper to charter
a crewed sailboat for a few weeks. Fly in and go. We can offer several suggestions of who we would choose should that become a consideration...