After a cooler and wetter than normal April, we cast off lines under clear skies in the early hours of April 29. Our destination for our first day was Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes where upon entering we promptly tied up to the fuel dock and filled 1044 gallons of diesel aboard.
Our normal practice is to fill at the end of the prior season but with fuel well above $5/gallon at the time we decided to take a chance that they would go down before we took off in 2023. Fortunately, our bet paid off and we only paid $4.30/gallon (now down to $4.19 but who counting those 1044 x $0.11 = $114.84 anyway). That fill should cover our travel this summer until we depart Alaska at which time we’ll take on a few hundred gallons for the southbound trip.
Our practice is to go to Alaska relatively quickly then linger in BC on the return trip. We got pretty good at fast trips in 2020 and 2021 when direct and expeditious trips through BC were required. After leaving Anacortes we traveled first to Nanaimo through the protected waters of the Gulf Island. The next day was the slog up the Strait of Georgia to Gorge Harbor in preparation for dealing with bottleneck of narrow channels getting into Johnstone Strait.
We’ve developed a liking to the “middle route” that cuts through the Octopus Island (the other two routes either go via Seymour Narrows or the Yuculta/Gillard/Dent trio),. From Gorge Harbor we made our way to the Hole-in-the-Wall for the evening slack before the ebb. The narrowest section of Hole-in-the-Wall, Upper Rapids and Lower Rapids are all relatively close and we were able to scoot though them in less than an hour. Our anchorage for the night was Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point in Discovery Passage.
With the good weather, we started the next morning at first light and were able to ride ebb current nearly to the western tip of Cracroft Isand in Johnstone Strait. After a little bit of slogging through Blackney Passage we popped into Queen Charlotte Sound and made our way to Lady Boot Cove (aka, “East of Eden”) for the night.
The forecasted conditions at Cape Caution for the next day weren’t bad but they were expected to be better the day after, May 5. We elected to do a short day from Lady Boot Cove to Blunden Harbour to position ourselves a bit closer to Cape Caution.
The west wind blew steadily at about 15 kts overnight but were forecast to lay down as the day progressed. It was bouncy, primarily wind waves rather than swell, for the first few hours but it was more annoying than anything. Because of ebb current coming out of Slingsby Channel, which can create rough conditions from the incoming swell or wind waves meeting the outgoing current, we elected to angle out beyond the Storm Islands before setting a more northerly route towards Cape Caution. We dropped the stabilizing “fish” into the water to reduce our rolling as we became more beam to the seas. As forecasted, the conditions improved and the run into Fitz Hugh Sound was uneventful. Taking advantage of the fine weather, we pushed to Fancy Cove in Lama Passage for the night.
We saw (via AIS) several pleasure craft come out of Port Alexander on Nigel Island the take Gordon Channel out beyond Pine Island before turning north towards Cape Caution. We’ve not gone that way before but it looked intriguing and we might try that route in the future.
From Fancy Cove, we headed out Seaforth Channel around Ivory Island, into Milbanke Sound and north into Findlayson Channel. North of Klemtu we took Sarah Passage into Tolmie Channel and finally Graham Reach. We anchored at the “Green Spit” bar partway into Khutze Inlet for the night.
The next morning we continued the northbound journey up Grenville Channel and into Chatham Sound. Vessel traffic was light although the BC Ferry, Northern Adventure, en route from Port Harday on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert passed us along the way. We spent the night in the southeast facing bay formed by the two Kinahan Islands near the entrance channel for Prince Rupert. Conditions were settled and what wind there were came from the NW.
In the late morning, we crossed into Alaska waters uneventfully with good sea conditions. As we motored up the channel between Duke Island and the mainland, we used the CBP Roam app on our phone and obtained our clearance number. We always like a morning arrival at Ketchikan on account of (usually) lighter winds so rather than pushing on to port we dropped the anchor in the outer cove of Kah Shakes. Like the previous anchorage it is a fair weather anchorage but was perfectly fine in the conditions we had.
A very early start (helped by the switching to Alaska Daylight Time) allowed us to arrive in Ketchikan at 9 AM on May 9 in the Bar Harbor marina, ten days from our Bainbridge Island departure.