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.
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.
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.
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!
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.