A trip to south-east Alaska via the Inside Passage has been a dream of ours – well, the Captain’s anyway – for many years. After a couple of year of planning, we finally pushed off from Point Roberts on June 17th, with plans to return by mid-August.
This trip – approximately 2500 miles in length – will likely be our most challenging voyage so far. Although we will be travelling when the weather is at its best, windy conditions and very rough seas can occur anytime, especially in the open water sections at the northern end of Vancouver Island and across Dixon Entrance from Prince Rupert to Alaska. As always, we plan to be cautious, and not push forward when the conditions are not right for a safe and comfortable passage. Fortunately, His Idea is capable of much tougher sea conditions than the crew can tolerate, and our desire for comfort should ensure a good margin of safety as far as sea conditions are concerned. There are other potential challenges of course – fog (the crew has a strong dislike for fog, even with a chartplotter, radar and new AIS tool that identifies ships and their movement), narrow passages and strong currents, and very large tides that complicate anchoring.
Despite these risks, our voyage to Prince Rupert has generally been in comfortable conditions, with good visibility, more sunny days than not, and little rain. Only during our first attempt to round Cape Caution were we turned back by rough seas. That’s pretty good for B.C’s west coast at any time.
One of the main attractions of this trip will be the opportunity to view abundant wildlife. So far we’ve spotted humpback whales, orcas, Pacific White Sided dolphins, a mink swimming to get his supper, and plenty of eagles, ospreys and other waterfowl. To date the views of what’s in the water have been fleeting; our expectations are for better luck when we reach Alaska.
We hope the following pictures will provide the right flavour of this spectacular area of B.C., not just of the scenery, but some of its diverse and interesting past and present as well.
Yikes, it’s getting away! Our first anchorage – in the Copeland Islands near Lund – and life is already going amiss!
When John joined Federated Cooperatives after university he travelled to co-ops in remote places all over B.C., but didn’t get a chance to visit Sointula, home of the oldest operating co-op in western Canada.; better late than never!
This evocative mural of small fishing skiffs, which is painted on the side of the Sointula Co-op Store, captures part of the history of this very interesting community. Sointula – which means ‘place of harmony’ – was founded in the early 1900’s by Finnish immigrants who were looking to establish a utopian society based on communal ideas.
Heading up the coast towards Cape Caution, which is across from the northern end of Vancouver Island and open to the Pacific; shortly after this picture was taken the conditions become uncomfotably rough…..
…..so we turned back for the safety of Miles Inlet, with the hope that tomorrow would be a better day.
Thankfully, the next morning, it was; the swells and chop were still too much for a fast cruise, but comfortable for a passage at 10 knots.
Fury Cove, our favourite anchorage so far, is located at the mouth of Rivers Inlet and was our first stop on the Inside Passage.
Who neeeds to go to the Caribbean for beautiful beaches and clear waters?
The rocky shore at Fury Cove was full of wildflowers…..
Cruising the protected waters of Fitz Hugh Sound on a sunny morning.
A group (flock?) of Sea-Doos just south of Bella Bella; we can’t be sure, but they appeared to be outfitted for long distance travel; perhaps following the same route we are?
Fueling up at Bella Bella; Shearwater Resort is nearby, and this area was abuzz with boats and planes; the racing cat was returning from the ‘Race to Alaska’, which runs from Port Townsend to Ketchikan and does not permit motor power or other support; this team, from Crescent Beach, finsished third.
Yes, there’s a passage in there…..
…..our tightist so far.
As we exited narrow Jackson Passage we spotted the cruise ship Seaborne Sojurn, here preparing to send its passengers on various excursions.
One of the excursions was to the nearby native village of Klemtu, which is tucked away on a narrow channel just off Finlayson Channel.
Rowing up the creek at our anchorage at Bottleneck Inlet, looking for bears (no sightings so far).
The remains of the long abandoned cannery at Butedale, once one of the largest on B.C.’s coast; the docks are maintained by an onsite caretaker, and one can stay there to explore the ruins.
Grenville Channel is sometimes referred to as ‘the ditch’ because of it’s length (50 miles) and narrowness (less than 1500 feet at it’s narrowest point); it’s the last section of the Inside Passage before reaching the more open waters south of Prince Rupert.
Lowe Inlet – off Grenville Channel – is our second favourite anchorage so far beacuse it’s open enough to offer great views of the surroundng valley but still well protected, and…..
…..it provides water access to impressive Verney Falls, here up close and personal from our little dinghy.
Our berth at Cow Bay Marina, Prince Rupert, 613 miles from our departure point at Point Roberts.