Prince Rupert to Haines
May 2 - June 5, 1994
Spring passed quickly, and we left May 2 for our boat trip up the Inside Passage. We drove the truck and empty boat trailer to Haines and took the ferry to Prince Rupert to reunite with our 22' Bayliner, which we'd left there in February. As soon as we launched, the motor died. We hauled it again and discovered that the gas was filled with water. When local mechanics offered to buy our old engine and take care of the hazardous waste problem, we agreed to let them replace the motor with a more powerful one. This meant a week-long delay in Prince Rupert before we could set out, but it was a good decision.
We left Prince Rupert May 14. We raced the sunset to Dundas Island and lost. The rollers got bigger and bigger as the wind rose and the light faded. At one point we passed a spectacular lighthouse on a rocky prominence with waves crashing against the cliffs. It was too dark to take a photo.
By the time we rounded the north tip of Dundas Island, it was almost completely dark. We groped our way along the shoreline toward where the chart showed a deep sheltered bay. We were concerned that we may not be able to see the narrow entrance in the dark. By now we knew we should have stayed in Prince Rupert until morning.
Then we saw one of the most welcome sights of our lives, an anchored sailboat just inside the narrow bay. It guided us in to safety. We pulled up near it, anchored, and slept an exhausted sleep.
The next morning we proceeded across Dixon Entrance into Alaska. We stopped at Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Juneau on our way north, visiting schools and sharing Susan's books. The weather was glorious. We anchored in hidden coves and hiked along beaches at low tide. Once while underway we saw splashes in the distance. Hundreds upon hundreds of Dall porpoise were swimming right toward us. Another time porpoises chased the boat and swam along with us, right under the hull!
We explored fjords and went through Ford's Terror, the mouth of a fjord that is so narrow and shallow that when the tide changes the current can be as fast as 17 knots with overflows (photo to the left)! The story is that an explorer named Ford went through it during a tide change and was terrified when he returned to the mother ship. It is whitewater during a tide change. We entered at high slack tide and found a private wilderness with sheer rock cliffs towering thousands of feet above the water. We left at 3:00 a.m. during the next slack tide.
Extreme tides floated icebergs as large as ships. We came upon a humpback whale floating and turning over and over near a cliff. We cut the motor and tried to take his picture. He swam toward us and surfaced to look at us with one huge eye, then dove under the boat and came up on the other side, displaying his flukes before diving deep into the icy water. We got one good picture of him.
As we continued north, we heard loud animal sounds. We rounded a corner and cut the motor to drift right by a sea lion rookery. Amazingly, Goldie the dog wasn't interested at all in the sea lions. He spent most of his time staring into the water. He's the most avid fisherman in our family and will do almost anything to catch a fish.
In Juneau, Dennis caught several minnows for bait and left them swimming in a five-gallon bucket. Goldie discovered them and went "bobbing for minnows", swallowing them whole when he could catch them. It was hilarious. Unfortunately, raw minnows didn't agree with him. Later that day, after Dennis polished every nook and cranny of the boat, the minnows "reappeared" from Goldie's churning stomach.
Go on to read Floating the Susitna River
Source: www.SusanCAnthony.com, ©Susan C. Anthony