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Airship to Alaska | Day 16 | Prince Rupert to Ketchikan

Airship Goes to Alaska 2016

Last night's Prince Rupert view from Airship:

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We set our alarm for 4am this morning to check the 4am weather and forecasted conditions for Dixon Entrance to make the final call about whether to go or wait. At Dixon Entrance East, waves were 1-2 meters. Hard to know what that means without the period of seconds between waves. At Buoy 46145, which is smack in the middle of Dixon Entrance, north of Haida Gwai (so quite a bit further out to sea than we'd be), they were 6-7 feet high at 9-10 seconds apart. So as they got closer to land they'd likely be quite a bit smaller than that. The Green Island lightstation report said "Partly cloudy, visibility 4 miles, fog, wind calm, seas rippled." (Foggy usually means calm.)

Here's what the 24-hour surface forecast looked like:

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The high pressure system and the really wide/far apart isobars…? That's good for us!

Side note: It's occasionally difficult to make the decision to "Go" at 4am from a soft cozy bed while it's mostly still dark. The decision, however, is made easier when you know the weather window might not be open for all THAT long. Here's the 48-hour surface forecast:

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Here we are passing the Green Island lighthouse:

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Fog….check! Light wind…check! Seas rippled…check!

We took turns napping, and then I made breakfast for us (bacon and eggs underway!). Once out in Dixon Entrance we had some swells (about 6 foot swells) but they were far apart and gentle and it was all no big deal, really. (Still, I'm glad I wasn't cooking breakfast at that point.) 

Dixon

And just like that, we're in Alaska again!

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I think the worst/choppiest conditions we had were in Revillagigedo Channel on the way into Ketchikan, because we had wind over current (wind against us, current with us), but it was still fine. 

Arriving in Ketchikan is always a bit of a shock when the cruise ships are all there along the shoreline. One enormous cruise ship (as opposed to a small cruise ship) was just leaving (we watched as it headed north out of the channel) so there were only three when we arrived:

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Hey, Ketchikan…I know you're in there somewhere….

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The city floats are just around this cruise ship's stern:

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Oh hey big guy:

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We called the US Customs office in Ketchikan while we were about 4 hours out (but hey! cell service!) to let them know our ETA and give them our information. Super friendly! They told us to give a call when we were about 10 minutes out, let them know where we were going, and they'd send a customs officer down to meet us.

I called when we were just outside the cruise ships and said we were going to Casey Moran/City Floats. She asked if we were there yet, and I said "Nope, I'm just coming around the last cruise ship though." She laughed, said to call when we were docked, and she'd send a guy down. We docked, I called, the guy came down. He hopped on board, checked our passports and customs decal, asked if we had anything on board that we shouldn't have, and then wished us a great trip and was on his way. Super low key and easy. 

Last year with the flotilla we started out north of town at the Bar Harbor Marina (close to the grocery store and laundromat), and then moved over to the city floats at some point. I like it down here. It's closer to town, there's a lot going on, and yeah, it's in the shadows of the cruise ships during the day, but they're mostly gone by 6pm (and there are still hours of daylight left at that point!). Plus, the city bus that runs up and down the main road here goes right to the grocery store, which is still in the free zone. Score! We'll do that tomorrow after Kevin's conference call. We need some milk, eggs, fruit, veggies. 

Airship and cruise ship, for scale:

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For a late lunch/early dinner (like 3:30pm early dinner) we went over to Alava's Fish-n-Chowder to get some fish and chips (only instead of chips, we got asparagus and zucchini, done fish and chips style…so good…we had some last summer and wanted to c) and then walked around town a bit. We stopped back in at the Alaska Eagle Arts gallery (where I got my salmon necklace last year) and…well, I got another Marvin Oliver necklace. This one is a salmon egg, representing the salmon in egg form, as well as the circle of life…it's really nice and I love it. I'll get a photo and post it…but for now, this is one of the art cards, showing the red salmon, as well as the salmon in egg form (the embossed image…that's what my pendant looks like):

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We wandered around town a bit more and then headed back to Airship to relax a bit. Today's route was 83.7 nautical miles, and took us 10 hours and 52 minutes:

Dixonmap

I think next we'll head around into Behm Canal and check out Misty Fjords. A new place!! 

 

  • Kevin McLaughlin

    After a few days with no updates I wondered about the beautiful places you might be seeing…My wonderings paled in comparison! Breathtaking!