Saturday, July 11, 2015


June 18, 2015 Ketchikan
Today we are off to Ketchikan, repatriation in the US, and arrival in Alaska!  It was a long day, but conditions crossing the Dixon entrance were like glass so we just gave it some extra gas and went for it.  It was a steady parade of boats all making their way towards Ketchikan which is a mandatory stop for everyone entering the US.  Some of the boats were planning to stop at Foggy Bay which is inside the US, but if you call Customs in advance and tell them you are stopping, it’s OK.

Ketchikan is an interesting place, and I gather a bit unique for Alaska.  Big cruise ships stop here, in fact two were leaving just as we were entering.  While we were there, the average appeared to be 5 per day.  Two or three would arrive very early around 5:00AM and stay until early afternoon.  Then two or three more would show up right after and stay until late afternoon or early evening.  Some were heading north, and some were heading south, and these were not small ships.  I’ve never been on a big one like this before, but all ranged between 275 and 300 meters, so you are looking at 900’-1000’ long ships.

Passing cruise ships on our way into Ketchikan

Yes, they are big

For visiting boats like us, Ketchikan is a “hot berth” port with all dock assignments issued by the harbor master on arrival.  No reservations are taken – it’s all first come first serve.  We called in and got our assignment and were shortly tied up and settled in.

There is a place in Ketchikan called Frontier Shipping that will accept c/o packages and hold them for you.  The fee is a very reasonable $1/package.  I had ordered up a hand full of things and had them shipped in, so the first order of business was to go find Frontier and fetch our packages.  I have to admit to a little bit of shell shock on this first venture out.  All the cars, buildings, people, and noise were quite the contrast to our past 10 days if isolation and solitude.  With Frontier found, packages de-boxed and contents stuff in a tote bag, back to the boat I went.

We planned to stay for 2 full days/3 nights, to have plenty of time for errands and provisioning.  Plus, having unconstrained internet was really nice for catching up on email, web sites, etc.  I actually started doing this blog entry and got a bunch of pictures loaded, but didn’t get very far writing.  The longer you procrastinate, the more daunting the job becomes, so further procrastination becomes more and more appealing, and so forth and so on.  But here I am, finally catching up.

Days two and three involved some geek sessions with fellow boaters.  We had connected in Port McNeill with Sam Landsman, editor of the Waggoner cruising guides.  He had been reading this blog and was interested in discussing some of the electronics issues.  Cruising with him was Kevin Monahan, author of “The Radar Book”.   Kevin had also been reading the blog and was interested in talking about radars.  His book was my first purchase after I started suspecting problems with my Simrad radar, and so started my real education on radars, what they can do, and how to really use them.  They left Port McNeill about the same time we did, and were leading a flotilla put together by Waggoners.   We kept crossing paths and were seldom more than a port apart, but didn’t finally catch up until Ketichikan.  There is probably a pun in there somewhere, but I’ll resist…

Anyway we had a great time over a two days talking shop, comparing equipment a features, and wishing all the virtues of radar were more widely understood.  I highly recommend Kevin’s book, as well as the Waggoner guides.

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