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Old 22-12-2022, 02:05   #1
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North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

Ahoy!


I am planning on heading to Alaska in the spring aboard my Spencer 42.





She is a good boat, goes to wind well, and I would much rather sail than motor all the way up the inside passage.

The issue here being is that going north on the outside is against current, and the wind is not always favorable.

I am wondering if anyone has done this trip and might have any insight to offer, Ideally I am wanting to stay out of Canada because I am going to have my pew pews on board.




On this route it is 590 NM from Neah Bay to Ketchikan, and at a plan speed of 5 knots we are looking at 4 days and 22 hours.

Although this obviously does not account for having to tack at all.

Any insight would be much appreciated.
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Old 22-12-2022, 07:46   #2
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegde_Sailor View Post
I would much rather sail than motor all the way up the inside passage.

The issue here being is that going north on the outside is against current, and the wind is not always favorable.
More like "rarely favourable" (late Spring/Summer), unless you sail with a southerly (which may be a gale).

Hecate Strait especially unlikely (and serious in a gale).

If you don’t check into Canada down south, you cannot stop and anchor (for safety and/or comfort) on the way up (at least, not without special permission). Not recommended.

Many do go up (North) the outside of VI. They motor and carefully pick and choose passages between anchorages and weather systems.

Pew pews?
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Old 22-12-2022, 07:58   #3
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

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Originally Posted by sv_pelagia View Post
More like "rarely favourable" (late Spring/Summer), unless you sail with a southerly (which may be a gale).

Hecate Strait especially unlikely (and serious in a gale).

If you don’t check into Canada down south, you cannot stop and anchor (for safety and/or comfort) on the way up (at least, not without special permission). Not recommended.

Many do go up (North) the outside of VI. They motor and carefully pick and choose passages between anchorages and weather systems.

Pew pews?
no worries.. i speak "baw"


translation of "pew pews"= firearms.. and/or "guns"






..




why not just ship the gubs to alaska so you could check-into canada/anchor as needed?



pretty sure long guns can eb shipped via usps (not 100% on that)


..handguns will need to be done via FFL.
no reason to re-invent the wheel here... hunters do it literally every day of the week.
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Old 22-12-2022, 08:07   #4
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegde_Sailor View Post


The issue here being is that going north on the outside is against current, and the wind is not always favorable.




On this route it is 590 NM from Neah Bay to Ketchikan, and at a plan speed of 5 knots we are looking at 4 days and 22 hours.

Although this obviously does not account for having to tack at all.

Any insight would be much appreciated.
Well you are pretty much ‘in Canada’ there but I understand what you mean.
Re the ‘against current’ comment- I think that this factor is negligible. Small enough that it can be pretty much disregarded, especially when compared to wind and tidal currents.

Anything is possible with exactly the right weather window but for your plan timeline you’d need to get lucky with the perfect stretch of moderate mainly southerly winds. Five days of southerlies would be rare, though not impossible in some form. Southerlies here don’t ever prevail, they’re changeable in direction and strength- often stronger than you’d like them to be especially out there. Though I figure your weather patterns in Washington are pretty similar for the most part so -no need to tell you that.

As a transiting American boat, where do you go to shelter when the wind comes up? I suppose I could google that…

Interested to see what others say here.
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Old 22-12-2022, 09:06   #5
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

I've gone northbound up the west coast of Vancouver Island late May-June one year ... took me about a month hopping between protected inlets waiting for weather windows between southerly gales and northerly gales to get round the headlands.
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Old 22-12-2022, 10:10   #6
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

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translation of "pew pews"= firearms.. and/or "guns"
Oh I was thinking maybe it meant fluffy little foofoo doggies or something.

Asking to go straight up the outside coast and Hecate in one short run is asking a lot. It’s not technically impossible but it ain’t really natural. Normally this involves dealing with a prolonged series of hops and ‘toilet bowl’ weather systems.
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Old 22-12-2022, 10:58   #7
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

If I were doing this, I'd treat it as an oceanic, against the prevailing winds, passage. Go AWAY out and go outside both Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii (the Charlottes). You don't want to get into the shallow waters of either Queen Charlotte Sound OR Hecate Strait. Especially Hecate Strait. It's so shallow that in a blow there's a good chance that you will have gravel on your decks.

As others have said, you are going against the prevailing wind. Expect a miserable trip. You'll probably not be disappointed.

And thank you for keeping your guns out of Canada.
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Old 22-12-2022, 11:14   #8
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

You can run N on the outside with a low in the Gulf of Alaska, but most wait until the lows loose some of their winter punch- sometimes in the Feb-Apr timeframe.

Despite the southerly wind during such a low, still be prepared for the prevailing NW swell to still be present- often mingling with the southerly swell from the low you are riding; resulting in uncomfortable, confused seas.

I have made the transit inside and outside several times. I would not want to be forced (required) to remain on the outside for the entire transit. Weather prognostications and boats (among many other variables) often interfere with our intensions.

Nor would I want to have to make an emergency stop in BC with undeclared 'pew-pews' onboard.

Last we came through, there were no issues with declaring (most) long guns for transit through BC. We recommend you work with the RCMP ahead of time, and have the form(s) completed before you arrive at the border. (Hint: Last we did it, you could add multiple long guns to one form. Since you are paying per form, this will save some $.)

As you know, hand helds need to be shipped. There are many FFL's in Alaska towns that routinely handle such shipments for people transiting (but not flying) to/from Alaska.

My recommendation is to not limit your routing options because of a calendar or your pew pews...

Either route will require fuel for heating and ICE propulsion...

There is a good book written by some fellow cruisers wth lots of insight that will help you optimize your sailing time on the inside or outside route in both BC and SE Alaska: Taken By the Wind: The Northwest Coast: A Guide to Sailing the Coasts of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska

Wishing you a safe journey.

Cheers! Bill

PS: Another alternate route would be via Hawaii... (seriously... many do...)

PPS: I would urge you to reconsider transiting too quickly through some of the most pristine and beautiful cruising grounds in the world...
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Old 22-12-2022, 13:03   #9
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrwakefield View Post
You can run N on the outside with a low in the Gulf of Alaska, but most wait until the lows loose some of their winter punch- sometimes in the Feb-Apr timeframe.



Despite the southerly wind during such a low, still be prepared for the prevailing NW swell to still be present- often mingling with the southerly swell from the low you are riding; resulting in uncomfortable, confused seas.



I have made the transit inside and outside several times. I would not want to be forced (required) to remain on the outside for the entire transit. Weather prognostications and boats (among many other variables) often interfere with our intensions.



Nor would I want to have to make an emergency stop in BC with undeclared 'pew-pews' onboard.



Last we came through, there were no issues with declaring (most) long guns for transit through BC. We recommend you work with the RCMP ahead of time, and have the form(s) completed before you arrive at the border. (Hint: Last we did it, you could add multiple long guns to one form. Since you are paying per form, this will save some $.)



As you know, hand helds need to be shipped. There are many FFL's in Alaska towns that routinely handle such shipments for people transiting (but not flying) to/from Alaska.



My recommendation is to not limit your routing options because of a calendar or your pew pews...



Either route will require fuel for heating and ICE propulsion...

There is a good book written by some fellow cruisers wth lots of insight that will help you optimize your sailing time on the inside or outside route in both BC and SE Alaska: Taken By the Wind: The Northwest Coast: A Guide to Sailing the Coasts of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska

Wishing you a safe journey.

Cheers! Bill

PS: Another alternate route would be via Hawaii... (seriously... many do...)

PPS: I would urge you to reconsider transiting too quickly through some of the most pristine and beautiful cruising grounds in the world...

Originally my plan was to boogie for Hawaii, just didn't have the boat ready in time by the end of September, really wasn't wanting to winter in Washington this year.

I may take the trip up and explore BC some more one day, however, what I am looking at right now is fulfilling a dream of going to Alaska, then getting back south in time to spend next winter on the beach somewhere eating tacos where it is warm enough to be in shorts and bare feet!


🌞

🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮

I had also thought a lot about just buying another gun when I get up there and having it waiting for me, that may well be what I do.

Been wanting to get a lever action .45-70 for a while.



Mad Pig Customs makes one I am rather fond of.
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Old 22-12-2022, 13:17   #10
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

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Originally Posted by Kelkara View Post
I've gone northbound up the west coast of Vancouver Island late May-June one year ... took me about a month hopping between protected inlets waiting for weather windows between southerly gales and northerly gales to get round the headlands.

Sounds like it was a bit of a slog.
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Old 22-12-2022, 14:29   #11
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

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Sounds like it was a bit of a slog.
Not necessarily if one is enjoying the many spectacular anchorages on the west coast of Vancouver Island!
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Old 22-12-2022, 15:35   #12
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

Understand the pew pew concern. I did the inside passage two times over the last few years and chose to leave the pew pews at home. Though it did involve more motoring, the scenery was spectacular and lonesome anchorages were a joy.

IMHO the risk reward ratio wasn't worth it to go outside and eliminate possible foul weather / mechanical stops in BC for the sake of a pew pew that I never needed. For peace of mind, long guns are allowed by Canada if barrel length is 20" (As I recall).

With regard to your dream to sail to Alaska, go for it for sure ... I suggest considering ports farther than busy commercial Ketchikan for your final AK destination. Wrangel, Petersburg, Thorn Bay (and more) are worth a visit and are more the 'typical' AK personality and dock availability is much better. Also, to enable more time to make the passages, I wintered once in SE AK and found that the temps were not largely different than in Washington. This gave much more time to enjoy the up and down trips during the prime seasons.

In any case, I hope you are able to make the passage.
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Old 22-12-2022, 16:22   #13
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

We just went through CA in October with a long gun. Absolutely a piece of cake. Just fill out the form and present it to the customs and border authorities when you check in. There is a $25 CA fee ($20 USD). Hand guns are a different story. Recommend you ship those to AK ahead of time.

FWIW, most rural dwelling Canadians we have interacted with over the years have been pro-gun. Like in the US it seems that the city dwellers are more anti-gun.
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Old 22-12-2022, 16:58   #14
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegde_Sailor View Post
...

I had also thought a lot about just buying another gun when I get up there and having it waiting for me, that may well be what I do.

Been wanting to get a lever action .45-70 for a while.
...
Will call is another option.

We have a couple of what you are considering in ourt collection. They are tools in the wilderness.

I had one modified to also handle .457 Magnum (as well as .45-70) by Wild West Guns in Anchorage. (They are absolute Marlin specialists...)

They also make a take-down pilot model.

Buffalo bore ammo for large mass, and Hornady LeverRevolution rounds will make it a 200 yard hunting rifle.

Since you brought it up...

Cheers! Bill

PS: The outdoor range is reasonable walking distance from the City Harbor on Wrangell Island...
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Old 22-12-2022, 20:01   #15
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Re: North to Alaska, OUTSIDE Vancouver Island?

By the fact that you are asking here, it sounds to me that you are still not ready to head North either through the inside passage or via the 'outside'. Everybody starts somewhere, so all is fair.

In regards to choices and weather windows, I would highly recommend checking in with the last couple hundred years of prevailing wind conditions to help guide you: https://msi.nga.mil/Publications/APC
In addition to asking folks for local knowledge, which is always smart.

Going up the inside passage, you will need more crew and more stops than you will just going 'outside'. A smallish 40-65 foot sailboat is not like a fishing boat that has a couple weeks of fuel and crew. You will need to deal with some currents and tricky passages and will need to either stop/anchor or time your passage making. You will need a lot of diesel and awareness to make it all work.

Going 'outside' brings along a different set of circumstances. Definitely can do it solo or small crew though. You will want to be prepared for the equivalent of sailing to Hawaii. Liferaft, EPIRB, a boat that can handle sustained heavy weather. It is the chafe and wear and tear (on the boat and the crew and skipper) that is the differentiator.

To directly answer your question about bucking the current - it is what it is, as others have noted, get at least 200nm off the shore and off the continental shelf and things will be safer. Plus fewer rocks, island and/or local commercial shipping/fishing traffic to deal with

It is unclear if you are planning to move there and have work lined up or are just heading out for pleasure. If moving permanently and you have an affection for your current firearms I would suggest having them delivered direct by the Alaska Marine Highway or (faster/easier) Alaska Air.

If you are just planning to visit for a year or two, I would store them away with friends/family in the lower-48 and pick up or borrow something else up in AK for hunting.

No matter what you choose to do, please be respectful of our Canadian neighbors and their laws and their similar yet somewhat different values.
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