Cathleen flew home from Echo Bay and there will be no more crew changes or additions. I am single-handing the final 350 miles home. I really like having other people on board and it is especially gratifying to share this experience with friends and family. None of us had been on a wilderness boating adventure like this before, including me. It was new and thrilling! When new crew members came aboard, the anticipation and enthusiasm boiled over and the positive energy was contagious. What would we see, feel, and experience on this leg of the trip? Each leg was one of a kind, unlike any before or after. Every time the crew changed, their excitement and eagerness made each leg of the trip a delight for me. Eleven blessed weeks of bliss! Single-handing gave me a lot of time to think about what I enjoyed about this adventure.
I had not spent three straight weeks with Alec in many years, not since he lived at home. Spending time like this together was less about boating and more about hanging out, talking, kayaking, crabbing, listening to classic rock, and watching some favorite shows. We grew closer from the time together. Alec found that he really likes boating trips and after three weeks, and going all the way to Ketchikan, he wanted to continue. But he had a job to get back to.
I started talking about this trip several years ago and Amy, my niece, wondered then if there would be opportunities for others to join. I remember she especially wanted to see bears. Cathleen and I were really looking forward to spending a week with Amy and Kristin. They flew into Sitka and the first evening at anchor wasted no time getting in the kayaks in search for bears on shore. It wasn’t until the next evening at a new location that she got up close and personal with a bear in her kayak! My heart was warmed by that. We made a lot of noise on a later hike in the woods knowing for sure there are bears around. We were overwhelmed by the number of whales, and even startled when one surfaced and blew very close to us! Eagles, bears, and whales galore. Nature at its finest. But watching Amy in the kayak watching the bear was the best!
Scott and I have a lot in common. We are the same age, our wives are sisters, and we enjoy outdoor adventures to name a few. We also took a previous boat trip that you can read about at this link. He is somewhat more adventurous than I am though, loving the extreme adrenaline pumping experiences. Scott recently had shoulder replacement surgery culminating from many such experiences, and this trip was more rehabilitative than adrenaline pumping. That made it easier for me to keep up with him. We went off-plan and avoided the marinas in favor of remote anchorages where we kayaked, crabbed, bear and whale watched, and enjoyed our cocktails with glacial ice! Neither of us had experienced being surrounded by icebergs before and that did get the adrenaline pumping, wow!
I’ve known Mark and Linda since high school. Mark and I worked at KFC. A couple of years ago they came out for a week long boating trip to the San Juan Islands which turned out to be one of the best trips ever. See that blog post here. So Cathleen and I were excited that they could participate on this adventure too. The scenery around Misty Fjords National Monument was breath taking. The crabbing was spectacularly productive. But the highlight for me was the four of us watching a grizzly bear at a very close, but safe distance (marginally safe distance for Linda) in the dinghy. That was one of nine bears we saw. Mark and Linda brought their wildlife mojo with them again! We didn’t see another bear the rest of the trip. Come back!
Thomas and B-Dub are good friends and we hang out together when given half a chance. Thomas and I go to Thunderbirds hockey games and shared a ticket package the last two seasons, which were their best seasons in their 40 year history. But I digress. We enjoyed a couple of marina stops in Prince Rupert and Shearwater, but the highlight for me was the stop at Butedale, which we would not have made if Insidious had not been dogging us all the way from Ketchikan, trying to take the best anchorages. So it turned out to be a good thing. Butedale is a piece of BC fishing history that won’t be repeated. I am so glad we were able to see it before it is totally reclaimed by nature, or speculators.
This trip would not have been possible without the love, encouragement, and support from Cathleen. At times during the planning of this trip I would get frustrated with things like sea plane schedules or cost, expecting that there was no way I could make it work with so many crew changes, an overwhelming amount of boat preparation, or thinking there would probably be a major breakdown that would cause the premature end to the trip and bring disappointment to people planning to participate. I thought maybe a shorter trip to Ketchikan or just to the Broughton Islands would be better. Or maybe plan it for a later year. Cathleen would not hear of it and encouraged me to keep planning and preparing and it would all work out. Well it certainly worked out better than I expected and I am so thankful that Cathleen helped me see this through. She was there for me in the planning stages and joined on several of the legs. And when I pulled into our home marina after single-handing 350 miles, guess who was there to help with the lines? Cathleen of course! Beginning to end. That’s but one example of why I love her so much!
Enough of that smushy stuff, here are the trip stats:
- Depart: 5/17/17
- Return: 7/31/17
- Number of days: 76 (64 days actually under way)
- Nights at anchor: 43
- Nights at a marina: 33
- Total nautical miles traveled: 2,508 (2,884 statute miles)
- Average speed under way: 6.9 knots
- Total engine hours: 365
- Total generator hours: 332
- Fuel used: 1,767 gallons of diesel
- Gallons burned per hour: 4.8 (including the generator use)
- Miles per gallon: 1.4 (including the generator use)
- Watermaker production: 2,700 gallons