On Our Way To Alaska

On our way to Alaska

Those who know me well, know that the Great Chicken resides in my brain, reciting cautions such as, “It’s too far, you’ll never make it!” and “It could be dangerous!” There’s no end to the variety of objections GC can bring up at a moment’s notice. So let it be known that GC has been overridden, at least temporarily, and the squawking has died down to a low, if persistent clucking.

2021 is an unusual year for journeying to Alaska, because of the lingering threat of pandemic. Canada’s borders are closed, because their population is not as far along in the vaccination process as the neighboring United States. The Canadian government is concerned that outsiders might introduce a spread in both populated and isolated areas. We had read that officials are allowing boaters to pass through Canadian waters with the understanding that we are to quarantine on our boat. We may anchor. We may not go to shore unless there’s an emergency. We are to carry all the food, fuel and water we will need for the duration of the transit. All trash is to be held for disposal on US territory. We must keep to a submitted float plan, and complete our transit in a timely fashion.

The moment of truth

We were a little concerned that we might be turned back at the border, but the check-in procedure with Customs at the Port of Sidney went without a hitch. The customs officers were friendly and courteous, and after we had answered the many questions to their satisfaction, we were granted permission to transit. We are grateful, and we plan on being compliant guests while passing through.

Our first travel day was better than we’d hoped, as we journeyed up the Strait of Georgia. This is a big body of water, and depending upon weather conditions, the waters can be quite rough. Fortune smiled on us, as the weather was mild and the winds were light. We delighted in watching the topography change: Big craggy peaks poked up through layers of clouds. Sunbeams shone through the clouds and reflected rainbow colors at times. It was beautiful! We passed through Dodd Narrows on a flood current of 3 knots, which gave us a boost along our way. We anchored and spent the night at False Bay, Lasqueti Island. We had traveled 80 nautical miles.

Can you see the rainbow sunbeams?

The next day saw us navigating some choppy waters in the morning, but they calmed down within a couple of hours. The choppy waters provided an opportunity to reevaluate how to store a few items better for the next choppy session! Everything must be well secured, or else falling, flying items will make for unsafe conditions and a big clean up. Another hazard to watch for while boating in the Pacific Northwest, is the presence of logs in the water. The shores are heavily wooded, and trees can be washed away during storms. In addition, the logging companies transport huge rafts of logs to the lumbermills by using the waterways. Inevitably, some logs escape the rafts and end up as floating obstacles. Running into a telephone pole sized log with your boat could cause some serious hull damage, so it pays to stay alert. This is one of the reasons we don’t travel at night. It would be difficult to see logs in time to avoid hitting them, and radar doesn’t pick up objects that are low in the water. In the evening we anchored at Granite Bay after traveling 70 nautical miles.

Some floating tree roots
Here’s a whole tree! About 35’ long.

Day 3 was an awesome wildlife sighting day, beginning with a family of 4 whales that swam by our boat. The parents and two calves provided some tail slaps and lots of magnificent fins for our viewing pleasure. Later in the day, a pod of dolphins joined us on our port side, and they looked like they were having such fun! We joined in with appreciative exclamations as they performed acrobatics. Later, when we reached our anchorage, we spotted our first bear. He was scouring the low tide shoreline for food (we imagine crabs and clams might be appealing). These sightings of wildlife are a gift we never tire of. The many eagles we’ve seen continue to amaze us with their strength and grace. We anchored in Blunden Harbor after traveling 90 nautical miles – a big day!

Fuzzy shot, but we were far away!

Day 4 and possibly day 5 will be windy and rainy. We will be sitting out the storm safe at anchor in Blunden Harbor. From here we will stage our first major open ocean crossing: Cape Caution. We plan to pick our weather and timing for the best conditions possible. The Great Chicken threatens to rear its ugly head, but I’m sure he’s wrong, as usual.


Shake Down Cruise

If you have ever owned a boat, you know that there are always projects waiting to be done.  They generally fall into 3 categories:  Urgent (completion needed before launching), Important (completion would enhance the journey, but may be done along the way), and Cosmetic (completion would make the first mate happy).  Mike works on or prepares for all three categories during our 8-month off season at home.  But then there are things that can only be done while physically at the boat, so he’s begun the practice of arriving at the boat a couple of weeks early to work and get things ready to go.  Lest you think that work is a four-letter word of the unwelcome variety, Mike enjoys this work for the most part.  He is mechanically minded and enjoys a challenge.  He’s not under great pressure to hurry because I’m not there waiting around.  It is a workable system.

In the meantime, our Granddaughter and I were enjoying a whirlwind tour of Washington DC with a group of graduating 8th graders and their parents.  Then we flew from the east coast to Seattle, where Mike picked us up at the end of his project time.  It was time to go on a shakedown cruise.

It is important to try out all the systems on the boat before leaving on a big adventure.  It is particularly important to make sure all the newly completed projects are functioning as needed.  A shakedown cruise is the trial run that allows for working out any bugs.  It was also a slow-paced time for enjoying one another and “getting away from it all.”  Here are some highlights from boating with a teenager:

Playing games together
FFT’s – Family facial treatments
Island hiking/daisy crown
Learning to row
Resting. Lots of resting!

When the week ended and our sweet granddaughter returned home, we had worked out some small operational bugs and felt confident that we were ready to embark on a more substantial trip. This year we are taking the leap, and making the trek north to our 49th state – Alaska!


Who knew crabs could be so cute?

A Tagline that Ages Well

A Tagline that Ages Well

What is a tagline?  A descriptive phrase which follows a title.  It further clarifies, or gives clues about, the content of the written passage.  In our case:  View Point –   Random musings of two rookie retirees on a boat.  View Point, of course, is a play on words.  We express our viewpoints in our writing, but we also have the honor of sharing glimpses of the views and vistas we encounter, through our descriptions and photographs.

The tagline is a little trickier.  When we created the phrase, we were newly retired, and truly rookies at this new phase of life.  We wanted to be intentional in retirement.  No couch potatoes are we!  When anticipating the freedom of retirement, we recognized the opportunity to do things we’ve never had time for, due to work life constraints.  (Most people can relate).  But opportunities don’t always just happen, they are created.  Consider the axiom:  Carpe diem – Seize the Day.  We knew we needed to seize this time of life and make it count.

A rookie is someone who has just started something new, and doesn’t have much prior experience at it.  Four years ago, we were rookies to retirement.  We had no experience at it.  We also had no experience with boating.  That’s right.   None, zippo, zilch.  So, what in the world were we thinking?  My far-sighted, adventure-loving husband was thinking of it as a means of seeing more of the world, but also as an opportunity for us to learn something new together.  Our 42’ Kady Krogen cabin cruiser is a vessel that requires both of us to operate it.  Of course, a seasoned mariner worth his salt might be able to single handedly operate it, but no sane rookie would be up to the task.  As it turns out, this working together effort has been good for us.  We each bring value to the table.  We also each bring incompetence at times, which leads to a lot of laughs.

But, you may say, now that you’ve been at this for 4 summers, surely you’ve learned enough to overcome your incompetency.   And we would answer that no matter how much we learn, there is still more to be learned, and we will never know it all.  Thus, we will remain in a perpetual state of rookiehood, and continue to have a lot of laughs.  This is something we greatly recommend, no matter your stage of life.  Resist the urge to take yourself too seriously, and embrace your inner rookie.  You will be led to places you could not have imagined.

In this, our fourth boating season, as we begin our time on the water, we are resisting any urges to become professional.  The rookie life suits us and keeps us humble, while continued learning and divine intervention keep us safe.  So, here’s to our tagline.  We’re going to keep it.  And here’s to you, dear reader, because we know that if you’re reading this, you care about us and our View Point.



Can rookies take their own boat to Alaska?