Preparing for Alaska

Our trip to Alaska is upon us!  Well, in the next day or two anyway, depending on when Alec’s passport arrives. He renewed it in plenty of time but it was lost somewhere, despite the post office tracking information saying it was delivered to his apartment mail room. It apparently wasn’t. So he filed the form for a reissued passport that gets mailed to Virginia, then they mail it to New Orleans for reissue. And it must be a super secret location because they have no publicly available phone number to follow up.  Anyway, it is supposed to finally arrive tomorrow, the day we are planning to leave, so I guess it is technically in time.

Getting a passport renewed was just one of the many things to take care of before leaving.  One of the first things I did was plan the route.  I have a copy of the navigation software that I use on the boat (Coastal Explorer) on my laptop too. That makes it easy to plan trip routes at home.  The software creates a file with the route and instead of saving it to my laptop hard drive, I save it to a dropbox folder.  I have also set up the navigation software program that resides on the boat computer to read the route file from the dropbox folder.  Thus, both programs use the same file.  No need to physically copy the route to a flash drive and install it at the boat.  That’s super convenient and about the extent of my geekiness.  The route covers 2,510 miles round trip from Seattle to Juneau over a period of eleven weeks (3 up, 4 there, and 4 back). We visit a new place nearly every day, but the average time underway per day is 4-6 hours, so not too bad.  Especially considering the days are very long this time of year at this latitude.  We should have plenty of time for hiking, kayaking, crabbing, and enjoying the area.

We will be relying extensively on all of the boat’s systems, so I made sure they are all up for the task, as much as I can.  It’s likely that something is bound to break or fail in some way, but hopefully it will be something that I can fix and not something that ends the trip. I have a modest supply of spare parts if needed.  The boat systems include the generator, heat, head, steering, ground tackle, fresh water, refrigeration, dinghy, and electronics.  Fresh oil and filters for the engines.  New impellers in the water pumps.  Fixed a leak in the hydraulic steering. Serviced the windlass. Replaced the fresh water pump.  A diver inspected the underwater running gear. Etc, etc.  I also had the Coast Guard Auxiliary perform a vessel safety check.  Everything is in top shape and ready to go.

Crew logistics were fun to work out.  Cathleen loves to boat, but spending 3 or 4 weeks at a time is typically her limit.  So that created the opportunity for others to participate in the trip.  We will have six crew changes, mostly in major ports like Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau where there are regional airports.  But there will be others where float planes are necessary, which are really great!  I’ve not been on one, but Cathleen took one last summer and loved it. There will be six, possibly seven, other people on various parts of the trip.

The weather will likely include much rain, but the harsh winter storms are over and weather should be cool and generally calm.  However, I have planned in several weather days just in case.

Provisioning for a trip like this is hard to do. We will do a lot of crabbing, and thus be eating a lot of crab dishes. I hope to catch some fish too. Since we will be anchoring a lot, we have to plan on making our own meals.  We initially stocked the boat with the basic things we will need and can restock at various places throughout the trip.  We have a lot of Cathleen’s freshly baked cookies (which are supposed to last the whole trip I found out today).  I made and froze 23 chicken and beef burritos.  We have a ton of oatmeal, frozen fruits and vegetables, pancake mix, a variety of cheese, bread, and sandwich fixings, frozen chicken breasts, ground beef, and steaks. And chips. No fresh fruit or vegetables are allowed to be taken across the border into Canada.  We will get that in Canada.  I got a small freezer to take along. People that have taken this trip say that they always took way too much food and caught a lot of fish and crabs.  With my questionable fishing skills, I am not taking any chances.

I plan to document the highlights of the trip via updates to the blog in reasonable intervals, like every week or two, depending on time and internet availability.



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