Thanks Canada... Hello U.S.A
Big exposure, but calm seas
Seas were settling down as we paddled out of Oona on the rising tide. Lauri and I would make our way around Porcher Island and evaluate the opportunity to make the exposed crossing to Kitson Island. Dixon's Entrance... gulp. We could abort the crossing in the Lawyer Island group at the 2 mile mark if need be, but there were no identified camping spots. It would be another 5 nautical miles to Kitson, crossing a Cruise Ship route... To use Lauri's phrase, the water was like buttercream frosting we decide to go for it... and it went perfectly. So Nice!
After a great sleep (so incredibly happy to have that crossing completed) on Kitson we again waited for the tide to rise so we could avoid the crazy long kayak/gear carry to the waters edge... then off to Prince Rupert.
This has been the longest section of our trip with few options to acquire food and we were on fumes in terms of food supply. Lutz had graciously given us some pasta, and cookies in case we were delayed getting to Rupert. Thankfully, we didn't need it...it's pretty unnerving to get that low on food. Our food cache shipment and the box forwarded from Shearwater made it safe and sound to Rupert thanks to the logistics support of our Bellingham shore crew, Damon. Thanks Damon!
So much fun to get the charts and food for the next section! This time we have a half way stop in Ketchikan to go through Customs as we get back to the good ole USA! I'm quite sure we will never get that low on food again.
The Crest Hotel would be our camp spot in Rupert and Cow Bay Marina would be the kayaks home for the next two days. Addie had suggested this marina and the facility and folks there were terrific. Thanks Addie. I still laugh at the thought of calling the harbor master on the VHF radio to dock my kayak. They aloud us to pull the boats right on to the dock and store them there... it was perfect.
The Crest hotel didn't have any regular rooms for us that first night and they withstood all the negotiating Lauri tried with them... so we broke down and got a suite for our first nights stay in Rupert. One night your in a damp, some would say dirty tent with an inflatable mattress and pillow and the next night you have a king size bed and more pillows than you could possibly use. Life is pretty damn good!
We have about 4-5 days that we need to worry about Dixon's Entrance as we leave Rupert. That and we have to cross Portland Inlet... we hate crossings anyhow, but the exposure we face adds to the anxiety. When we are anxious we paddle more and a bit faster. We start earlier and often paddle longer. Daily average grows from 16nm to 20+... we can save one day every three essentially by kicking it up a bit. One day less of exposure to the Pacific is worth the extra work.
On our way to our campsite out of Rupert we saw our first pod of Orcas. Pretty amazing. Hard to take pictures of, but still amazing. Our point and shoot cameras have a hard time focusing when it's foggy. This coupled with the Wales apparently knowing when we have the cameras ready to go, decide to stay beneath the sea. Arghhh. But they are so beautiful!
At lunch we still had cell service and dialed up USA customs to let them know we were crossing from Canada tomorrow and would need to land on US soil prior to officially checking in at Ketchikan on Saturday. They were great and "had us on their board."
We staged ourselves to do Portland Inlet first thing in the AM and started across near what should have been slack water... not quite. The tell tale sign of eb meeting flood are little wavelets and rips in the water AND it really seems like Wales like feeding near the turbulent water. So we had a bit of fog trying to hide our destination, some medium chop and 5 or 6 humpbacks feeding and intersecting with our course. So we did the sensible thing and changed course for the humpy pod! How many kayakers get to say that?
Shortly after our successful crossing of Portland Inlet we had another shorter, but more significant crossing... Lauri and I can officially say... we paddled to Alaska! Canada and its wonderful people were so great to us, but it felt pretty good to be in the US of A.
Ketchikan was still a few days away, but with continued effort we could maybe save a day. The long range forecast was all the encouragement we needed as gale force winds were predicted for the beloved Dixon Entrance for Friday and Saturday afternoon. 20nm on Thursday and Friday would leave us 15nm to safely be in harbor at Ketchican Saturday.
Early Saturday, felt a bit like a race against a wind that would accelerate our trip to Ketchikan. Weird I know, but having the seas kick up behind us as we approached a new, busy port that is known to have 6 or more cruise ships in Port at anyone time... Let's just say we valued "control" over the winds assistance. It was not to be.
We made it to Alaska's first city in record time, but as we approached the various harbors there was a 2 ft swell behind us and wind trying to pull the paddles from our hands. Any other time it would be YEE HAA, but today we had large ships on our mind. Shockingly enough there was zero behemoths in Port... so thankful to not have to deal with them... particularly with them docking or leaving dock, right across our side of the channel.
The Bar Harbor Marina had kayak racks ready to store our boats for our little shore leave. Ketchikan was in in between food drop city so we had less travel chores to do and we got to wander the city albeit in full rain gear. Very thankful that we were in Port versus camping. Let's just say, LOTS OF WATER was falling from the sky. Oh, and the cruise ships came, boy did they come. Maybe 5 at one time? Quite the sight and quite the economic impact to these coastal communities.
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Denny and Lauri