Ketchikan to Seattle

Sept. 2, We are leaving Ketchikan today around 2 pm AK time heading for Prince Rupert, BC. Currently the sun is out! It should take us about 2 days to get there, so we should be there tomorrow, Wednesday, or at the latest, Thursday morning. We will leave Prince Rupert Friday morning to head to Seattle. We aren't sure if we will have cell phone or email coverage while in BC. If we don't, we will Sail Mail to family and Rory will update the Log section of our website. We still don't know if we are going to stay on the Inside Passage after Prince Rupert or head outside, but the way the weather has been behaving the Inside Passage is the most likely. Look to be arriving in the Seattle area around the 13th of September. Hope all is well with everyone.

Sept. 3, We are overnighting in Kah Shakes Cove, 30 miles southeast of Ketchikan. Just outside the cove is a reef that was full of seals sunning themselves, could not get too close for great photos but neat to see. It is absolutely beautiful here and being anchored out is what we have so missed. Took the dingy out and toured the cove and watched the tide go out and all of the clams squirting water from the beach, haven't seen that in years. You would never know that this cove is here as it is hidden behind two reefs which are about 150 feet apart that you have navigate between with a depth of 12'. Once inside there is lots of room and depth and you can breath easier. We will leave at mid-tide tomorrow around 6:30 a.m. for Prince Rupert so should easily squeak back through. Forecast is for rain, how unusual.

9/4/2008 UTC date 3:13 AM UTC time 9/3/2008 Pacific Time date 8:13 PM Pacific Time 54°19.22'N Latitude 130°19.19'W Longitude 211T Course 0.0 Speed

Arrived in Prince Rupert this evening at 5 pm AK time and are docked at the Prince Rupert Yacht Club. Prince Rupert is on Pacific Standard Time so we will have to change all our clocks, gps', watches, etc. So strange that last night anchored out was our last night in Alaska. We have now traveled 349 miles through the Inside Passage.

We plan on spending tomorrow night in Prince Rupert and will leave Friday morning, anchoring every night until we clear customs at either Vancouver, Victoria or White Rock, we haven't decided which at this point. We currently have cell phone coverage but it is roaming so will continue to send Sail Mails every evening after we're anchored (won't send one tomorrow as we'll still be in Prince Rupert). Anyway, having a great time even though it continues to spit rain at us off and on, we just put on our rain gear and off we go!  Love, Mom/JoLe and Dad/KC

9/6/2008:   We left Prince Rupert this morning at 6:30am PST in fog for the first 1 1/2 hours, 1/4 mile visibility, made it 59 nm motoring only. Getting good at using radar finding small and large boats, buoys and land. Spotted a black bear cub on the beach and were able to get some good photos as we moved closer to shore. After we took his picture he chased after us on the shore for about a half mile until he found some berries to eat; they were much more interesting than we were! Saw seals on a beach loitering in the semi-sun and in Lowe Inlet, Nettle Basin, where we are anchored tonight, two otters and lots of salmon trying to leap up a waterfall, amazingly beautiful. Love, Mom/JoLe and Dad/KC

9/7/08:   We are anchored in Kwakume Inlet on Fritz Hugh Sound in British Columbia, 211 south of Prince Rupert. Left Lowe Inlet in dense fog which lasted until noon as predicted by Environmental Canada. Canadian weathermen have been fairly on lately. In the fog we traveled along with two other sailboats, we had them on radar but didn't know what they were, passed a BC ferry at less than 1/4mile and had our dysfunctional group of boaters behind us coming out of the fog. Felt like Pirates of the Caribbean escaping the British. Anyway challenging trip that started and ended with fog. If we were pilots we would have our instrument ratings by now. Had dolphins and whales with the boat today. Detoured through Gunboat Passage and had great fun, like going up a river. Helped a couple from Japan into the same anchorage tonight as the entry was a bit difficult. We are anchored, the skies are mostly clear, the moon is covered in streams of haze which reflect across the water. Makes it hard to leave.

9/8/2008: We are still anchored in Kwakume Inlet as, after listening to the weather report last night, then again this morning forecasting gales and gale force winds in Queen Charlotte Strait and Sound for Monday, diminishing Tuesday, and then hearing the Canadian Coast Guard broadcasting over the VHF that there actually was a gale where it was predicted to be, we decided to stay where we are, about 15 miles North of where we will enter Queen Charlotte. We will leave tomorrow morning, Tuesday, around 7 a.m. and either head to an anchorage just at the end of Fitz Hugh Channel where it meets Queen Charlotte and wait it out in Fury Cove on Penrose Island or, if it looks okay, head across Queen Charlotte to Port Hardy or Port McNeil. Fitz Hugh Channel, which we are currently on, is just fine and isn't a problem. JoLe had a good birthday today, the sun came out this afternoon so she took a break from cleaning the boat while KC took a break from fixing the heater (had to replace another fitting that cracked in the middle of the night, replace the anti-freeze that was lost, and bleed the system, which is also why we stayed) to sit in the sun and enjoy some crackers and cheese. We also took time to use JoLe's birthday present from KC; it's what every girl wants, truly what she asked for, a hand held depth finder. I just didn't expect to get it quite as soon as I did. I wasn't quite sure how KC was able to pull it off as I had just requested one while out anchoring the other day and we hadn't been to any towns since then, but somehow he managed to come up with one! Yep, that string with a knot in it every 6 feet tied to a lead weight is just what I had in mind when I asked for that hand held depth finder!:) We tooled around the Inlet we're anchored in exploring in the dinghy dropping my new "gift" now and then to test our Nobeltec Navigation software. Everything worked fine. To those of you waiting for us to arrive in the Seattle/Des Moines area around the weekend of 9/13 (in particular Rob, Julia, Mark and Taylor for meeting on 9/14): we aren't going to make it due to the gale coming in. Sorry about that. We are probably looking more towards the beginning to middle of the next week. Love, Mom/JoLe and Dad/KC

9/12/2008 UTC date 4:34 AM UTC time 9/11/2008 Pacific Time date 9:34 PM Pacific Time 49°43.74'N Latitude 124°12.60'W Longitude 261T Course 0.0 Speed

We are currently in Musket Island Marine Park on the West side of Malaspina Straight (Strait of Georgia) off of Jervis Inlet. Definitely a place to come back to and spend some time exploring in the kayaks. A group of 5 seals are swimming around our boat feeding. We traveled our most miles today, 84.4 over 12 hours, averaging 7 knots an hour. We left Billy Goat Bay this morning with the current against us traveling at about 4 - 5 knots for the first 3 hours before leaving Johnstone Strait for Discovery Passage. No wind in either although when we made the turn at Discovery Passage the Coast Guard broadcast a special Gale warning for Johnstone Strait. It was so strange, we had just come through there and there was truly no wind. Discovery Passage's currents were much better to us than Johnstone's (this is said somewhat tongue in cheek). We started out with 2.3 knots with us and ended up being spewed out at the end at Seymour Narrows with 8.7 knots with us. We maxed out our best speeds ever at 15 k nots in the midst of an overfall, whirlpools, rips and swirls! Once through the worst portion of these, approximately 2-3 miles, we continued to run into whirlpools and rips for approximately the next 10 miles through the rest of Discovery Passage, maintaining a speed of about 9 - 11 knots.

JoLe, at the helm, wasn't aware of the whirlpools etc. at the end of Seymour Narrows so she was a little surprised when the bow of the boat was almost swallowed by an overfall and immediately took the boat off of autopilot to navigate by hand. It wasn't until later in the day that the trusty navigator (1st mate, engineer, sometimes cook), KC, fessed up, but only after JoLe looked up some information on Seymour Narrows that mentioned that only large vessels with speeds in excess of 17 can attempt the passage at any other time than during slack water, that he'd read that information also but hadn't really paid any attention to it at the time! The navigator has been fired! Weather was beautiful from the moment we got up and continues to be so, didn't even wear our overalls today. Saw 3 different pods of killer whales; the last pod seemed to have it in for us as the largest passed by us less than a boat length away blowing at the bow and stern of the boat, then the two smaller ones turned and came toward us, one of the coming up heading straight at us again within a boat length of us. Needless to say as all this was happening we were moving the boat away from them. Also saw porpoises playing in the Narrows. A Great Day! Trying to decide whether to stay here an extra day, or to move on south. Will probably decide tomorrow. Love, JoLe/Mom and KC/Dad

The rest of the story, we started the day with currents against us holding our speed to less than 5 kts. JoLe was not pleased and I told her that we would have the currents with us in two hours and for the rest of the day so we would make up for being off to a slow start. She is so frustrated when going slow. Passing through the Seymour Narrows we had the currents maxing out and what a ride and sight with the whirlpools and waves. One of the whirlpools had a 3' deep hole in the center and was about 60' in diameter. We went through without a whimper from the boat but the Capt was not quiet about it. To the trusty navigator's credit he did show his Capt the animated tide feature on the charting program prior to the "experience" and did explain that our speeds would pick up. I will say that I never expected to hit 15 kts in our boat and fly along for over an hour above 11kts, fun though. KC/Dad

Sept. 13, 2008: We are in Sidney, BC on the southern end of Vancouver Island, North of Victoria. We left Musket Island Marine Preserve this morning at 7:30 a.m. with some wind and seas and arrived in Sidney at 7:00 p.m., we traveled 78.8 miles, avg. of 6.8 nm/hr. We actually sailed, totally sailed, we mean we got to turn the motor off sailing for about 3 hours. Again a day of high wind and gale warnings but little of it seen (we did have some 20 knot winds but it wasn't howling). Nothing exciting happened like yesterday although we did go through the Active Pass on our way to Sidney which has whirlpools and overfalls, although this time we went through about a half hour after slack tide so there was nothing at all happening EXCEPT the ferry traffic, and lots of it. We will cross into the U.S. tomorrow so will have phones and Internet back. Our plan is to head to the nearest port to check in with customs and then on to Bainbridge Island to overnight and see Rory and on to Des Moines on Sunday to catch up with friends and family. (Julia, Mark, Taylor, Rob, Mom & Dad: Hopefully this still works for everyone on Sunday. We won't know if we have a transient slip until we're in the U.S. We'll call and see how schedules work, okay?) (Mind & Dan: What does your Sunday look like? We'll call on Saturday when we get into the U.S. and have cell coverage). Love JoLe/Mom and KC/Dad

Sept. 14, 2008:  Hi all! We are currently anchored in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, across from Seattle. We left Sydney, BC this morning at 6:30 a.m. planning to check in with U.S. Customs at Port Townsend so set our course accordingly through Haro Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait. About half way through Haro Strait, when we had cell phone service, KC double checked with U.S. Customs for check in points and was given a list of 5 towns; Port Townsend was no longer on the list. After madly checking around to find the 5 towns we found that Roche Harbor was the closest to where we were. Unfortunately we had already passed the quick way to get there from Sydney. We had also passed the "back" passage in, Mosquito Pass, but turned around and went back in, against the tide flow, as it was closer than any of the other options. Going into Mosquito Pass, which is very narrow and crooked, we found a rock with the keel. As a sailor it was the most awful experience either of us have ever been through. It sounds horrible, it feels horrible, it is just plain awful and beyond scary to hear your boat touch/hit something. It rocked the boat to the port side and then back. We continued on through the passage as we weren't taking on water, stopped at Customs, checked into the U.S., and then headed back out. We thought about going out and around the Island because it was "safer" but then thought, no, we're going to go back and take Mosquito Pass, it's faster (truly more of a get back on the horse that threw you than anything else!). So we did it, and that rock didn't jump out and get us a second time thank goodness! We ended up traveling a total of 90.7 miles today, a little longer than planned because of the customs situation (the backtracking). We believe that we have a slight leak but it is very slight. The leak is a weep, if anything. Tomorrow we are heading to Des Moines Harbor, about 15 miles away. They have a boat yard and lift which will open on Monday so we will be checking with them as to when we can be hauled out to check the keel and bottom. The keel is encapsulated in fiberglass and from past experience, when the boat yard in Mexico bumped the keel on the ground, we know that if it is damaged, it has to be repaired as it will leak water into the bilge. Will update as we know how things progress.

Sept. 17, 2008:  STX is now in a boatyard in Des Moines having repairs made from our encounter with the rock. We are currently staying on Shane's sailboat, KC's younger brother, in Shilshole in N. Seattle, we will also spend some of the time the boat is being worked on in Oregon visiting JoLe's sister, Sandi and her family. The damage to STX is confined to the keel encapsulation and some tabs on the grid structure in the bilge. The repairs require the removal of the entire keel's fiberglass covering and then replacement due to water penetrating and loosening the bond. Then the tabs that popped when the hull flexed have to be ground down and redone. Thankfully the damage was limited to the port side which is under the salon table and floor, so there is easy access. Nothing serious, but the estimated completion time is still 2-3 weeks. After weighing a number of negatives and positives, we have decided to leave the boat in Seattle rather than return with her to San Diego. This is due to our late arrival date in Seattle, the additional and unexpected time to fix the keel, which is time we expected to use to fix a few things ourselves, and the biggest factor, the weather window to head south. Although we are going to miss seeing our friends in San Diego full time, after looking at it, it makes the most sense for us to leave the boat here rather than return her to San Diego as planned. KC's two brothers are in Seattle to keep an eye on her. The benefit is that we can return to Seattle in the spring to pick her up and return to Alaska and BC next summer to explore a lot of places that we just didn't have time to stop and see this time around. After that, who knows!

Photos to follow soon.
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