The Dixon Entrance: North to Alaska!
|Everything comes to Alaska by barge.|
Today we cross into Alaska. My first time in the state, and Mathias' as well. And we will arrive by slow boat from Seattle. It is three weeks since we left and we've covered about 750 miles, never in the same place for more than a day.
But to get to Ketchikan we have to cross the Dixon Entrance, and of the two open water crossings, Dixon has the nastier reputation. We leave Fitch Island Cove (in Brundige Inlet) at 0520, and we're greeted at the mouth with gentle, rolling swells, less than a meter. Dixon is a pussycat this morning. The skies are overcast and there is a bit of fog (enough that keeping an eye on the chartplotter is imperative). The horizon is featureless, and steering a straight course is surprisingly difficult. I can identify with sea stories that have ships sailing in circles. But the going is easy, and after a time the shoreline of Alaska becomes dimly visible.
|57 miles in 13 hours|
Wavelet emerged from Brundige some time later, and we called them up on the VHF and asked them how well we showed up on their radar. I have the radar target that most people have... the collapsible aluminum "sphere" that one puts together from three slotted aluminum plates. I've never asked anyone with radar whether I show up well, and Glenn confirms that I'm reflecting a good signal, which is nice to know.
It is only 10 miles to the mouth of Revillagigedo Channel, though another 5 or so is still exposed to the seas that sweep in from the Gulf of Alaska. In a couple of hours, we're distinctly in US waters again. We're in Alaska!
|The cruise ship population in town for a few hours each day |
often exceeds the resident population of Ketchikan.
As it is a fairly long haul up to Ketchikan (especially if you leave from Prince Rupert), it is acceptable to make the trip in two days, stopping in Foggy Bay for the night without clearing customs. You are expected to check in by telephone (there is cell service!). We think we can get all the way into Ketchikan, though, as long as the weather holds. We check in anyway, and they say fine... just give them a call when we are close. Much later in the day, an hour or so out, we check in again. They say fine, call when you are closer. All they really need is five or ten minutes notice, and they will meet you at your marina or even at the fuel dock! This is about as convenient as customs clearance gets!
The customs officer meets us as we are filling tanks, and he is patient as I get things squared away. He asks a few questions and checks our passports, and I nonchalantly inquire as to whether he has cleared any smaller boats into Alaska today (I meant ever). He says no, but what he really wants to chat about is a vessel he cleared earlier in the afternoon... m/v Serengeti, which as it happens used to be Johnny Carson's yacht. Serengeti passed us a couple days later, heading north into Clarence Strait.
|Johnny Carson's yacht, Serengeti (now owned and chartered by a California Dentist)|
Having refueled and checked in, we travelled our last mile of the day, settling into Bar Harbor Marina and starting our chores.
|good night, moon|