Category Archives: 2014 Inside Passage Trip


After a lovely dinner with friends, we were able to watch the fireworks from the back of the boat at midnight on the 4th.  We slept in a bit on Friday morning before heading around Douglas Island towards Auke Bay.  Again, the water was amazingly calm and we had a pleasant trip.  I’d assured Bill when we left downtown that everyone would be out fishing for the holiday so there would be plenty of room in the harbor.  Much to my surprise and Bill’s displeasure, the harbor was plugged!  There were more boats stuffed in the harbor than we’ve ever seen.  Most of them were commercial fishing boats, which are big to start with, and they were tied three and four deep in places.  We ended up rafting on to a gillnetter named ‘Wahoo’ :).  Rafting means we tied up to the outside of the other boat and had to crawl across it to get to the dock.  Not the preferred situation but it was the only choice.  We’re on a wait list for a permanent slip in Auke Bay but until a spot opens up there’s only transient moorage available so it’s first come, first served for space on the dock.  All the fishing boats cleared out today (Sunday) so we were able to move the boat to a good spot.  We spent the day cleaning up and getting stuff off the boat that needed to come home.  Here’s a  picture of Madeline in her new home.  If you know where we live you can also see our house in this picture (off Madeline’s bow and up a bit).

boat auke bay (640x480)

So, we’ve come to the end of this journey, but it’s only the beginning of our adventures on Madeline.  I plan to keep this blog going on future voyages so if you like, you can check in now and then to see what we’re up to.  Thanks to everyone who went with us on this blog and for all the great comments we received.  Until next time, smooth sailing to all.

Tracy Arm

We left Sandborn Channel on Tuesday morning in the fog.  We had pretty thick fog up most of Port Houghton but no traffic so it wasn’t a problem.  When we got to Stephens Passage it opened up for our trip to Tracy Arm.  Entering Tracy Arm is a little tricky so they have some range markers that you line up with so that you can cross the bar safely into the Arm.

range marker (1024x765)

Along with the range markers are some buoys but there are warnings that ice may move the buoys so be sure to use the range markers along with the buoys to be safe.

buoy with ice (1024x762)

Once in the Arm we saw our first glacier, Sundum Glacier.

first glacier (1024x768)

Tracy Arm Cove is just inside the bar and on our way to anchor we saw two big brown bears browsing on the beach.  We saw these bears frequently in the two nights we spent in the cove.

bear (1024x768)

After anchoring it was amazing to watch the amount of traffic going up the arm from small cruising boats like ours to huge cruise ships.

cruise ship and ice (1024x768)

Wednesday morning we started our journey up Tracy Arm.  There are a multitude of waterfalls in the arm and we took pictures of a lot of them.  Here are a few for your viewing pleasure.

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waterfall4 (1024x768)

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Believe it or not, there were also multitudes of icebergs.  Some with seals, some with birds and some just plain old ice.  Here are a selection of my favorites.

berg6 (1024x764)
berg7 (1024x767)


iceberg2 (1024x767)

seal (1024x768)

seal2 (1024x768)

stranded berg (1024x768)

berg w birds (1024x767)

When we got up to the head of the Arm you could go south to South Sawyer Glacier or north to North Sawyer Glacier.  I had read that South Sawyer Glacier was the more active of the two so we went up there first.  The bay in front of the glacier was really clogged with ice and  Bill did a great job of navigating through as much as possible so that I could take pictures of the glacier.

s sawyer glacier (1024x766)

On our way back we decided to go up the North arm and found it totally free of ice so we could get up close and personal with the North Sawyer Glacier.  We saw a little bit of ice calve and heard lots of popping and cracking.  The sun even came out for a bit so that we could take some nice photos.

n sawyer 2 (1024x766)

We anchored up in Tracy Arm Cove again on Wednesday night and took off Thursday morning for Juneau!  We knew we were getting close when we hit latitude 58.

making 58

We decided that we would go downtown for one night because it would be too far to go to Auke Bay in one day.

hello juneau

On the way into town we passed this Sandy Beach landmark and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

sandy beach landmark

We arrived downtown in the early afternoon, tied up and now Bill is washing the boat and I’m trying to get caught up on the blog.  There are fireworks tonight so we can either watch them from the boat or we might walk up to the bridge to see them depending on the weather.  We’ll head for home tomorrow morning and hopefully be able to find a spot to tie up in Auke Bay.  It’s been an amazing trip and it’s kind of sad that it’s almost over.  Must be time to start planning the next one…



Petersburg and Sandborn Canal

We stayed an extra day in Petersburg which was a nice rest.  It happened to be a Sunday so not much was going on in town and it rained a lot but we did get to walk around a bit during a dry period.  There was a big Sons of Norway Hall that was built in 1912.  It had a park on one side of the building with a replica Viking boat and a mariner’s memorial.  It’s a nice spot when the sun shines.

viking ship

Later in the day I decided to do some laundry but it started raining so hard that I waited over an hour but it never let up.

petersburg rain

Finally, I put on my rain gear and hiked up to the Laundromat.  After I got there the rain let up and it wasn’t too bad for my trip back down to the boat with enough clean clothes to make it home.  We left Petersburg a little after 8 on Monday morning.  It was cloudy and rainy but the seas were calm.

bye petersburg

When we got out of the narrows into Frederick Sound there were a couple of buoys covered in sea lions.

sea lions 2 (1024x765) (2)

We went up Frederick Sound to Stephens Passage and the weather remained kind to us.  We saw some icebergs in the Sound from the Le Conte glacier.  We also saw quite a few whales all along the way.  They were the first icebergs and whales we saw on this trip.

iceberg (1024x766)

We decided to anchor in Sandborn Canal after reading a glowing review in the guide book.  It really is a beautiful spot.

Sandborn canal (1024x642)

The guide book said we should see bears and moose and later in the evening we did see a moose.  It seemed to be browsing on seaweed along the shore for a while and then it swam across the canal, did something on the other side and then swam back across the canal before going up into the woods.  Hard to figure what it was up to.

sandborn moose

There were a bunch of crab pot buoys all around the canal and the birds loved them.  There seemed to be one bird perched on each buoy most of the time.  We took the tender down and went for a ride to the head of the canal but no more wildlife was spotted. I guess we’ll have to be satisfied with the beautiful scenery.

bird on buoy (1024x766)

Petersburg and a little more Wrangell

Remember last post when I told you the sunset was really pretty?  Well, I finally got a view over the top of the breakwater so you can see for yourself.

Wrangell sunset

Saturday morning we woke up to a red light on the holding tank that necessitated that we pump out (oh what fun!).  We’ve known it needed to be done for a while and had been putting it off so it’s a relief to have it done.  We shouldn’t have to worry about it again until after we’re home.  We had to go to a different harbor to get to the pump out station and when we were finished there we stopped downtown once more so that I could take this picture.  I think this sign is really clever.

welcom to wrangell

It was a really low tide when we left so before I went down the very steep ramp back to the boat I took this picture from above.  Just a little different perspective of the boat.

boat from above

I made the mistake when going down the ramp to look up and saw a bunch of spiders that have made the ramp their home – yuck.

spider 1

We reluctantly left Wrangell a little after 10am.  We really enjoyed our time here and will definitely come back soon.

bye Wrangell (1024x768) (1024x768)

We didn’t have long to be sad about leaving because our next adventure was about to begin.  The Wrangell Narrows is a 21 mile stretch of water that is fairly shallow (we averaged about 36 feet) and there are over 50 buoys to follow in order to make a safe passage.  Here is a map of the first half with the buoys marked by color.

wrangell  narrows map

Wouldn’t you know that once we got started in our first really narrow, windy spot what do we see but a tug and barge coming the other way right at us!  We have to stay to the LEFT of the red buoy that we are on the right of in the picture.  We slowed way down and pulled over as far as we could to let him pass.

barge front (1024x768)

Once he got by, we got back on track and had an exciting but uneventful passage through the rest of the narrows.  It was really fun to bob and weave around all of the markers!

barge behind (1024x768)

At the end of the narrows we were in Petersburg.  About the time we pulled in to our slip the sun came out for a beautiful few hours.

hello petersburg (1024x768)

After tying up and getting everything under control we walked up to town.  They call Petersburg ‘Little Norway’ because the guy who started the cannery where the city is now was Norwegian and many more Norwegian’s followed him to the area.

downtown (1024x768)

We went to the visitor’s center and the library which was a really nice, new building.  While at the library it started to rain so we stayed a little longer than originally planned.  On our way back to the boat we stopped at a pizza place and had dinner.  I think we’re going to stay here for another day.  It’s stopped raining and hopefully we’ll get a nice day tomorrow so that we can take a proper look around.  This picture was taken from the back of our boat in the harbor.  Something to ponder…

ramp to nowhere

Ketchikan, Frosty Bay and Wrangell

We stayed an extra day in Ketchikan (Wednesday) and we got a sunny one!  What are the odds?  The lady in the harbor office told us that it had rained 5 inches on Sunday!

sunny ktn

We caught up on laundry and did some sightseeing downtown. This is the infamous Creek Street, now just a tourist hot spot.

ktn creek street

Both days in Ketchikan there were at least three cruise ships in town and they all used the channel in front of our harbor, quite a site except when they’re blowing their fog horns at 5:30 in the morning.

ktn cruise ship1

We left Ketchikan first thing Thursday morning and had a very comfortable trip to Frosty Bay.

bye ktn

This bay was supposed to have a bunch of seals around the entrance but they must have found a new home because we only saw one during our stay.  There was a Forest Service cabin in the bay and we met some field workers who were very relieved to hear that we hadn’t rented the cabin so they could stay there and get a good nights’ sleep.

frosty bay 2

The trip to Wrangell wasn’t quite as dependent on tides as some of the other routes so we slept in a bit and headed to Wrangell around 9 this morning.  The morning started out cloudy but is now a beautiful, sunny day. The thermometer on our weather station (that is directly in the sun) says its 90 degrees.  That’s an exaggeration but it is really nice and warm.

hello wrangell better

We are in a harbor that’s about a mile from town so we got the tender down and took a ride into town for some lunch and a look around.  When we got back, there was a boy and his dad on the end of the dock with a really nice halibut.

wrangell boy and halibut

We went back to town for dinner at the Stikine Inn, I highly recommend it if you’re ever in Wrangell.  You’d better have a pocket full of money but the food is worth it!  We both forgot our phones and the camera so no more pictures tonight.  There’s a really pretty sunset but the breakwater around our harbor blocks it so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  We’re planning to go to Petersburg tomorrow and due to the tides we don’t have to leave until around 10am.  That will give us time to sleep in, take showers and  go into town again.  There are a couple more pictures I’d like to share, but first I have to take them.  Nighty-night.

Foggy Bay and Ketchikan

Monday morning and still in Prince Rupert, but not for long.  Our friends and marina neighbors Gerd and Linda took off just before we did.  We really enjoyed visiting with them and getting lots of good advice on boating in the Inside Passage.  We’re hoping to see them again when they pass through Auke Bay in July.

bye gerd linda

We left Prince Rupert about 9am in hopes of catching good tides and currents.

bye prince rupert

We left via the Venn Channel, a narrow, zig-zag channel that saved about 15 miles compared to going out the same way we came in.  We had carefully planned the route and had the good luck of a fishing boat going the same way just a bit in front of us so that we got the ‘local knowledge’ that the guide book recommended.  We had to pay close attention but got through with no problem.

venn channel

Once through Venn Channel we went as far as Dundas Island to look at the weather and determine whether to stop in Brundige Inlet or go across Dixon Entrance to Foggy Bay.  The weather was better than expected for making the crossing so we forged ahead to Foggy Bay.  This lighthouse on Green Island was at our decision point.

light house dixon entrance

When we reached Foggy Bay the entrance wasn’t easy to find and you guessed it, another rather narrow channel.

foggy bay  ent

On our way through the entrance, I saw this little water outlet and thought it was picture worthy.

waterfall in foggy bay

When we got to the anchorage, the bay had opened into a beautiful, serene little spot.

foggy bay 1 (1024x765)

After dinner it started to rain a bit, and it kept raining harder until it turned into a downpour! That’s water pouring off the roof of the boat. Now we’re feeling like we’re back in Southeast Alaska.

rain in foggy bay

Before bedtime, the weather cleared up some and it quit raining.  This was the view we had to Revillagigedo Channel from our anchorage.

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It really started blowing during the night and was still going strong when we got up in the morning.  We waited an hour or so past our planned start and the wind seemed to have calmed down so we left for Ketchikan.  That was probably a mistake, but we were on our way for a long, lumpy ride.  The seas settled down a little before we got to Ketchikan and it even stopped raining.

hello ktn

We were now back in the US and had to check in with Customs, which went much better than expected.  As we were going the mile or so to our harbor we came across some noteworthy sites.  First, we saw our old Port Hardy neighbor in a downtown harbor (the great big boat with the back end sticking out and the mast taller than the building behind it).

SOC in ktn

Then there was dodging the Beavers, the flying kind (common Alaskan float planes), that seemed to be taking off and landing all over the place.

float plane ktn

If that wasn’t enough there were also three cruise ships tied up at the docks.  Luckily they stayed put while we were passing.  This is another very busy harbor.

float plane and cruise ship

After docking and checking in at the harbor we went for a very overdue lunch and I got my first ‘iced tea’ in a month.  I think we’re going to stay here for a couple of days.  It’s great to be back in the USA!

ice tea

PS – Thanks for your comments, we really enjoy hearing from you so please keep it up.  It makes us feel good to know that friends and family are looking at these posts and maybe even enjoying them…

Still in Prince Rupert

Well, it’s Sunday evening and we’re still in Prince Rupert.  Not that it’s not a nice enough place but I’m more than ready to move on.  It’s really windy right now in the harbor and everything is howling and creaking and groaning but hopefully it will blow itself out tonight so we can shove off in the morning.

There isn’t a  whole lot to report on.  We’ve been going to the coffee shop in the mornings and yesterday we went to the museum and the swimming pool for laps and showers.  Later in the afternoon I did laundry.  Nothing spectacular or exciting.  I did take a couple more pictures of the murals on the buildings in town.  They’re really well done.  There’s a good one of wolves near the swimming pool but I was in the car so didn’t have a way to stop and take a  picture.  Here are a couple of buildings right around the harbor.  The first two are different sides of the same building.


whales tail

I also mentioned in an earlier post that we are right next to a busy fuel dock and there are frequently big traffic jams to get in for fuel.  We heard that there used to be two fuel docks in town but the other one closed down so this is it for marine fuel in Prince Rupert.

traffic jam (2)

Every conceivable type of vessel has come in to get fuel from ferry boats to skiffs.  It’s been interesting to watch the commercial fishing boats fight for space on the dock, they are ruthless and have no concept of waiting their turn.  We’ve been really surprised that there hasn’t been more trouble but everyone seems to take it all in stride.  It’s kind of like the driving in Italy!

I wanted to get this post out before we left since we probably won’t have an internet connection for a few days until we reach Ketchikan.  Wish us luck on getting out of here tomorrow and for calm weather as well.  We should get some good pictures of our route out of Prince Rupert – it’s another scenic, narrow channel…