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The Beguine
"Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That's what a ship needs. But what a ship is, what it really is, is freedom."
Glacier Bay
06/07/2011, N Sandy Cove, Glacier Bay

We arrived in Glacier Bay yesterday and today we're anchored in N Sandy Cove. It's a beautiful sunny day; 94 degrees in our cockpit. We're surrounded by snowcapped mountains, trees so green they don't look real, and the sound of small waterfalls streaming into the waters around us. Took a dinghy ride this morning, caught some fish, and saw our first black bear (from very far away).

California to Alaska
05/17/2011, Ketchikan, AK

We're finally in Alaska! After leaving Port McNeill, we anchored for the night in God's Pocket where we caught our second fish to date. Actually, it was more like a small guppy that got caught in our intake. Our cat Star was the only taker.

The next day we crossed Queen Charlotte Sound via the direct route around Pine and Egg islands, then cruised up Fitz Hugh Sound and Fisher Channel to Lama Passage where we anchored in Fancy Cove; a lovely anchorage with a babbling stream.

The next night we anchored in Khutze Inlet, then transited Grenville Channel and anchored in Kelp Passage Anchorage on Lewis Island. The next morning, we cruised to Prince Rupert where we fueled up, then anchored off Carolina Island in Venn Passage to wait out the weather. We got a decent window today (it was cold and rainy, but the swells were low and the winds light), so we crossed Dixon into Ketchikan.

California to Alaska
Grand view from Port McNeill
05/02/2011, Port McNeill, BC

We were graciously given a tour of Port McNeill by a new friend. This photo was taken from a hilltop that overlooks the Broughtons at around 9pm PDT. Thanks Barry!

California to Alaska

Here's a hodgepodge list of things we've added to the boat and things we've learned so far while cruising in the northern latitudes.

We added canvas that fully enclosed our cockpit - when a cold wind kicks up and it's raining, we can still sit in our cockpit and have a glass of wine, and since the cockpit stays dry in rain, snow, and hail, it also helps keep us from tracking the muck below decks

Our Dickerson Newport diesel heater is the most important member of our crew - just ask our cat Star :-) Actually, we installed this before we left to go cruising, but it is awesome.

We added a teak cockpit floor grate - we tried the plastic interlocking squares, but they slid around too much on our curved floor, the teak is perfect and also gave us some insulation from the cold fiberglass

We added companionway doors - we have traditional slats, but when you're trying to keep the cabin warm and are not worried about taking waves in the cockpit, these doors make it so easy to go in and out, pass up a mug of hot coffee, etc.

We've learned that the phrase "near by" in a cruising guide, as in "propane is near by", could mean at the top of the dock ramp or eight miles away (by car), so always ask how close it really it is. And remember, you can usually put an empty propane canister in a taxi's boot, but never a full one.

We purchased adapters for our propane tank to fit "all" possible connections. It will be the one you didn't buy, because you didn't think anyone could possibly be using that kind of fill connection anymore, that you'll need.

As long as you're not buying wine from the USA, the prices in BC are about the same as in the USA. For example, we like wines from Spain, Chile, and Argentina and they are priced very similar to what we've paid in the US.

The farther north we've gone, the less we've been able to find an ATM that takes our cards (debt cards, credit cards, etc.) even when those cards have the same symbols on the back as the ones advertised on the ATM. These are ATM/cash machines that are not associated with a specific bank. We've been told this is because our cards are from the USA.

Everyone has different food tastes, but here's what we've found so far. I always thought CA was expensive, but goods and food prices in BC are pricey. I wonder if it isn't because so much of it is imported, so you pay additional taxes. (Note that the following examples are just what we've experienced so far on the waterways and in the stores we've had access to) A few random examples are: refried beans can be as high as $5 a can, we haven't found any high grade beef, but you can get ground chuck for around $7/lb, a bottle of basic hand lotion can be as much as $13, and bags of frozen, uncooked shrimp (which we could usually get on sale for $7-8/lb are not to be found, but you can buy frozen prawns for around $20-$30/lb. Last, if you like pine nuts, stock up on those as well - you either won't find them or will pay $8 for a very small bag of them. We eat mostly chicken now except when we catch crab, and hopefully prawns and fish soon.

Because we're cruising in the off season, we've learned never to assume that any establishment mentioned in the guides is open (e.g., marinas, fuel docks, grocery stories, restaurants, showers, water, laundry facilities, etc.). The winter months are often when things get upgraded or repaired, it's just too slow to keep something open (or heated - we've been is some really cold shower houses), or the weather is too harsh (e.g., docks are pulled up or closed due to possible wind damage and the water is turned off on the docks). Also, if the advertisement says they're upgrading, call first to see if they're finished.

Otters like to mark things (lines coiled on the dock, dinghies in the water, etc.) with urine and regurgitated food. They will also climb through the smallest hole in your canvas to get to anything they find interesting in your cockpit. For example, don't leave any bags of your pet's poop in the cockpit overnight (i.e. those little black bags they give you for scooping up dog poop). This happened to us in Egmont. I used some of those bags for used cat litter and the next morning the otters had ripped them open and thrown the contents all over the cockpit. It looked like they had a good time, but what a mess to clean up. On a good note, otters hate hot sauce! Put some in an open plastic container and leave it by the entrance to your cockpit or in your dinghy if it's in the water.

California to Alaska
04/24/2011, Port McNeill

We left Owen Bay thinking we'd anchor in Otter Cove or Port Harvey, but it was a rare day on Johnston Strait - light winds, blue sky, and lots of sunshine - so we kept going. Ended up in Sointula after a 12 hour run. Now we're in Port McNeill waiting for our insurance to kick in so we can head above the 51st parallel. Happy Easter!

California to Alaska
Owen Bay
04/19/2011, Owen Bay

Arrived in Owen Bay at 11:30 AM PDT. We went through the rapids at Beazley Passage during an ebb about about 1 hour before slack. Quite a ride at 12 knots!

California to Alaska

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s/v The Beguine
Who: Paul and Celeste Carpenter
Port: Marysville, KS
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