Central Coast: May 16-22, 2017
12 June 2017
We chose the popular route north through the Central Coast that the ferries and cruise ships take. We had heard it was very pretty and we plan on taking the outside route south, hopefully with NW winds. We also wanted the fastest route as we were trying to make tracks north to meet our friends who live in Juneau, Fred & Cinda on "s/v Songline". We cruised with them in the South Pacific. They had vacation booked June 1 so our goal was to arrive in Juneau by that time so we could cruise together again with them in their native Alaska!
Shearwater, Kliktsoatli Harbour
52' 08.82" N, 128' 05.29" W
We headed up Fitz Hugh Sound after leaving Pruth Bay via Haikai Pass. We motored as we had no wind. We chose Lama Passage to Shearwater. Shearwater Marina is a good stop on the Central Coast. It has a good dock and had lots of space in May but they said they get very busy in the summer. Good store, fuel dock, laundry, showers and a pub with reasonable wifi. Good cell reception from Bella Bella. Even a haul out facility if you need that. We spent a night at the dock.
Khutze Inlet - Princess Royal Channel
53' 05.2" N, 128' 25.09" W
On the way to this anchorage we transited Seaforth Channel we were visited by Pacific White Sided Dolphins. We then took Finlayson Channel, Tolmie Channel followed by Princess Royal Channel. We loved PRC. It's beautiful with its snow capped mountains, waterfall and granite cliffs. We also loved Khutze Bay as we saw 3 grizzly bears, or brown bears as they call them in Alaska! We were so excited to see these bears! The head of the bay has a grassy area where bears feed in the evening. MV "Honu" was using a drone to capture the bear action! Anchoring here is tricky as it shoals up quickly near the mouth of the river and then drops off quickly. Choose a spot closer to the waterfall.
Nettle Basin - Grenville Channel
53' 32.6" N, 129' 35.6" W
We stopped at Hartley Bay for fuel. We were able to sail up Grenville Channel with a SE wind! We decided to anchor at the popular Nettle Basin but it was too popular! Eight boats were in there. Anchoring is difficult in Nettle as the bay is shallow near the mouth of the river (beautiful waterfall) and then becomes quite deep (like Khutze). There wasn't any room for us that we were comfortable with so we headed back out to the entrance to Nettle where there was a small sand spit. The bottom was rocky but we held. There are lots of logs to avoid in Grenville Channel and tugs. No cruise ships? Maybe they took the outside route with the SE winds.
Hunt Inlet, Porcher Is, near Prince Rupert
54' 03.8" N, 130' 26.3" W
We decided not to stop at Prince Rupert as we're making tracks north and we didn't want to pick up a lot of fresh food that might be taken away from us by US Customs when we entered Alaska. We planned to re-provision in Ketchikan. We enjoyed Prince Rupert in 2009 (Cow Bay) when we sailed to Haida Gwaii and we'll definitely stop here on the way south. We sailed all the way up Grenville Channel in SE winds. There was a SE gale blowing on the outside on this day but was supposed to subside by the next day when we hoped to cross Dixon Entrance. We actually had gusts up to 39 kt as we approached Dixon Entrance. We chose Hunt Inlet for an anchorage as it lies on the edge to Dixon Entrance to we could make a quick getaway in the morning. It offered good protection from SE winds.
Foggy Bay, Alaska and Dixon Entrance Crossing
54' 57.0" N, 130' 56.4" W
Foggy Bay lived up to its name. It was very foggy, rainy and generally yucky when we anchored here. Most boats anchor here for the night en route to Ketchikan as it's too far to sail in one day (90 nm). We phoned US Customs before we left the Prince Rupert area to let them know we'd be anchoring in Foggy Bay for the night. We were able to sail across Dixon Entrance in 20 kt SE and then motorsail as the winds subsided. I was glad for the fleece lined rubber gloves Norm purchased for us in Port McNeil as it rained most of the day and we were very wet when we arrived. We were able to anchor in the inner harbour even though Navionics said it was only 10' in the channel. It was actually 16' at a zero tide. There were 8 boats in the anchorage that night. We were all huddled down below with our heaters on trying to warm up and dry out. I kept busy cooking up all our raw meat and making apple crisp with our apples so all this food wouldn't be taken away from us by US Customs. Well I need not have bothered as we discovered the next day. US Customs in Ketchikan wasn't concerned at all about food or booze. The nice Customs officer just wanted to know if we had pets on board and get his paperwork completed. Oh well, I had a lot of precooked meals that would keep us going for a while!
Alaska here we come!