Thursday, May 8, 2014

We made it

We’re in Alaska.  We didn’t die.  We didn’t even make the news.  Its hard to believe we’re finally here.

We left our cozy little anchorage in Brundige Inlet just after first light this morning and were outside the inlet by the time it was fully light.  Then we turned left and headed out across Dixon Entrance.  After all the anticipation and all the worry it was totally anticlimactic.  It was pissing rain by the time we got outside the inlet.  We had some low southerly rollers early on but by about two hours into the crossing it was starting to get flat and by late morning it was glassy calm.  Other than the damnrain it couldn’t have been nicer.

We saw two other cruising boats – the same two that spent one night in Lowe Inlet as well as a few fishing boats.  Mostly we just saw grey skies, fog and rain.  Fortunately the radar is working well. 

When we got closer to Ketchikan it started to seriously piss rain on us.  I could barely see the next set of markers as we worked our way up Tongass Channel.  Before it started raining hard I could see what looking like a couple of apartment buildings at the head of the channel.  No doubt what they were – I was surprised that they were out this early but obviously they were cruise boats.  Floating casinos like the Costa Concordia.  Dangerous at any speed.  I was carefully staying well clear of the ugly things for fear one of them would tip over and squish us.  Then it announced that it was leaving town so we had to skedaddle across the channel to get out of its stupid way.



They didn’t tip over while we were watching them but we didn’t watch for very long either.

We got tied up at Bar Harbor and then waited for the Customs doofus to show up.  He had some cruising permit to fill out for us – something we’d never seen before.  And he didn’t have any clue about a clearance number – something that Customs in Washington is big on.  You’d think when its a Federal Agency that they’d try to do things the same way everywhere but apparently not. 

Once we got all our paperwork up to date we went on a shopping run to Safeway.  We always try to cross the border with as little fresh produce as possible although I don’t think the guy today cared one way or the other.  He told us to eat our meals onboard ‘because of agriculture.”  Given that Ketchikan gets over 160 inches of annual rainfall I think its a safe bet that we’ll be eating indoors at least until we leave here.  One of our guidebooks said that Safeway was happy to have us bring their carts back to the dock as long as we parked them with the dock carts so we cheerfully headed out of the parking lot with a full cart.  As soon as the front wheels left the lot they locked up solid.  (I always thought that was bullshit when the sign said they would do that but it turns out it isn’t)  Fortunately a nice man in an SUV took pity on us and drove us back to the dock.

Now that we’re actually in Alaska we think its prudent to start making a trip plan for our time here.  We thought maybe they would have a visitor centre in town but no such luck.  The big attraction for boaters up here is Glacier Bay.  Its such a big attraction that the National Parks Service has a very complicated permit process in place.  You have to apply for a permit less than 60 days before you plan to enter the bay and they have to mail the permit to you.  So clearly that wasn’t going to work.  But today we discovered that – if we get there before the end of May – we can just do whatever the hell we want.  So that’s our immediate plan – head north relatively quickly and get into Glacier Bay before the end of May.  We’re kind of used to heading north so that shouldn’t be hard to do. 

First we’ll need to get some fuel though.  We’re still working off the fuel we bought from Covich Williams in Seattle but I’ve been a little worried.  Evidently we had enough to get here but I had more or less stopped checking the levels in the tanks because they were staring to scare me.  Tonight I noticed that we are riding pretty high – light fuel and low water will do that I guess.

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