Wednesday, August 21, 2013
As our trip down the west coast of Prince of Wales Island came to an end, our plan was to stop in Nichols Bay for the night and then continue on east and south into Canada. The border between Alaska and Canada is a large body of water called Dixon Entrance. Being open to the Gulf of Alaska it has the potential for very nasty weather. We were planning ahead for our crossing, listening to the weather forecasts and looking over the various routes we could take to get us to Prince Rupert in Canada where we would clear Customs. What we had overlooked is that we would need to be out in Dixon Entrance for several hours to get to Nichols Bay. When the time finally came, it was sunny and clear there was a pretty good swell running in from the southwest that made for a lumpy, rolly ride. Madeline got seasick, Nicole wasn't looking too good either, and the only thing that saved me was that I had my hands full keeping the boat pointed in the right direction. When we finally got in to the harbor and out of the swell, we agreed that it might be a good idea to re-assess our plans of two more days of travel in Dixon Entrance. Things started falling in place for us as soon as we decided to be more flexible with our plans. Talking to our friends Tor and Jess when we were still in Craig we learned that Tor would be out on a research ship for the month of August, and that Jess was planning on traveling with their twin boys to see her father, in nearby Ketchikan. The timing of her trip would work perfectly for us to meet up if we detoured now and made the side trip to Ketchikan. Other friends from Seattle, Steve and Elsie on the sailboat Osprey came in to Nichols Bay the day after we arrived there, and we shared dinner and compared plans for the upcoming days. They gave us a good recommendation for an anchorage between Nichols Bay and Ketchikan, namely Gardener Bay, and it turned out to be a beautiful spot. Our past experiences in Clarence Strait were not good, having hit bad weather each time we traversed it's northern portion, but when we left Gardener Bay it was sunny and calm and we decided it was now or never and had a relaxing trip across. The final day to get in to Ketchikan started out in true pea soup fog, so Nicole got to practice her radar skills and I got to stare into nothingness for several hours until the fog finally lifted just as we got near town. We quickly went through our in-town duties: showers, laundry, groceries, phone calls, McDonalds. That left us a day to get together with Jess and the boys and visit, hitting the local thrift store for toys and the library (a gorgeous new library) for play time in the kids room. The trip to Ketchikan was a couple days out of our way, but we made up for it with the savings on fuel and groceries before we entered Canada, and we got the bonus of spending time with Lars, Odin and Jess. Sometimes it really pays to be flexible with plans.