Kelp Passage to Ketchikan:
The anchor is up and we are away from Kelp Passage at 5:00 am. We couldn’t have a better forecast for our crossing of Dixon Entrance, winds light for today and tonight. This is one of two open water passages on our way to Alaska that can get very rough with high seas when the wind blows. As we head out Malacca Passage, we monitor conditions at several weather reporting stations. Green Island, just west of Prince Rupert, is calm with rippled seas, Dixon Entrance sea buoy reports seas of 1.3 meters, and Grey Islet is reporting light winds. We have a great passage across Dixon Entrance with only a three foot swell. At 11:00 am we cross the border. Idyll Time is in Alaska! It’s hard to believe that we are finally here. We call customs and with our Nexus pass are cleared back into the good old United States. Time to change our clocks back one hour. We are now on Alaska time.
We travel another 40 miles up the Revillagigedo Channel to Tongas Narrows. As we work our way up Tongas Narrows we experience human habitation shock as we see houses, cars, and other boats. These are all things we haven’t seen for quite a while.
Dock space in Ketchikan is first come first serve, no reservations accepted. One big worry for us today is that the large flotilla of 15 boats in front of us may have now taken all of the dock space and we will have nowhere to go. The fishing fleet is still in port because their season does not start until June 15 th. We listen on the VHF as the flotilla arrives in Ketchikan and some of them have to raft together as there are not enough slips available. We have talked with the marina several times by phone and they assured us that they would find us a spot. Reaching the Coast Guard station we call the marina on VHF 73 for a docking assignment. The dock master tells us “ we are really full right now” but ask us to hold. Good news, he finds one spot for us amongst the fishing fleet in Thomas Basin. He assigns us to float 5 stall 17. Here in Alaska they call dock slips stalls. We will take it. To reach our slip we must navigate directly under the hugh looming bow of the cruise ship Radiance of the Seas. Idyll Time is soon tightly nestled amongst the fishing fleet.
We spend four days in the bustling town as we watch the many cruise ships come and go each day. Ketchikan is a complete zoo as the thousands of cruise ship passengers descend on the many tourists traps selling everything from t-shirts to diamonds. Float planes and helicopters zoom overhead taking the many excited tourists to the nearby glaciers. By 5pm the ships all leave returning the town to a quite and peaceful state.
We spend one full day working on the stabilizer. The repair that was done in Shearwater did not fix our stabilizer alignment problem. To get full access to the stabilizer Jeff first removed the stairs to our pilot house which allowed him to disconnect the washer/dryer hoses. He then removed the washer dryer which allowed him access to remove the floor over our port stabilizer. He was then able to inspect and tighten several loose connections. This was no easy feat and took all day. Hopefully this solved the problem.
It was fascinating watching the fishing fleet ready their boats for the upcoming fishing season. Several of the boats were put on the tidal grid here in the marina to access their hull. The boat would be tied up to this grid at high tide. With a 15 ft. tide, this would put them high and dry at low tide. They could then do what work was necessary on the hull before being floated on the next tide.
The seas in Clarence Strait have been 5-7 feet for the last few days. Tomorrow’s forecast is for two foot seas so hopefully we will be able to leave early AM and continue our journey north. Our next port should be Wrangell.
Total Miles Today: 113
Total Miles This Year: 1003