Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous - picks up just outside of Prince Rupert]
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.
Dixon Entrance is the large opening in the chain of islands and land masses that make up the Inside Passage. It is approximately 50 by 50 miles in size, but most cruisers cross at the eastern side, about 20 miles for the trip. It marks the border waters between Canada and the US; is one of the main gateways to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) which lie off shore of BC by about 50 miles; and is one of the larger entrances north into the Bay of Alaska. The northern end of the Haida Gwaii islands is open to the ocean and large waves and strong winds can enter into Dixon Entrance via this path. Cruisers wait at Prince Rupert as well as a few other places for a favorable weather window before attempting to cross the Entrance. For most cruisers getting to Ketchikan is a two day crossing, as the total distance from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan is about 90 miles. We were waiting for a good report and upon getting one got the boat organized to leave.
Generally when we do a larger passage where there is the possibility of more intense weather, we do things a little differently than just getting to the next point. Sometimes we tow the dinghy behind us and occasionally with the motor on, but not when doing a serious crossing. The outboard for the dinghy is stored on the back rail of the boat on an outboard support and the dinghy is brought up onto the deck. We flip the dinghy upside down and tie it off on the deck. We then put 'jacklines' on the boat. These web lines run from the bow to the stern and allow us to tie into them if we have to venture out of the cockpit to attend to any items and the weather is bad. We also have our tethers ready to go which are the short lines that fasten us to the jacklines. So with our trip all planned out and the weather window favorable we left at 5:45 am to make the most of the light in case we needed it. True to form for our other big crossings, the winds were very light and the swell minimal. Fine by us; we made the @ 60 nautical mile trip in @ 10 hours and dropped anchor in Foggy Bay at 3:50 in the afternoon.
Foggy Bay is an unusual anchorage in the US, in that the Customs and Border Patrol knows you are there. Not because they can see you (we don't think, but really we don't know), but because they allow cruisers to anchor there overnight due to the length of the trip. Remember, we are now in the US and have not cleared into the country, not an ordinary situation. The process is that you call CBP in Ketchikan from Prince Rupert and give them your info on yourselves and boat and your intended date of stay in Foggy Bay. You can then go to Foggy Bay after the Dixon Entrance crossing and then onto Ketchikan the next day. That is exactly what we did. We were on the dock in Ketchikan by 2:30 and had called CPB just before we got into the harbor. They send an officer down with the information that you provided via the phone to validate it and do the formal clearing in. They have in the recent past, boarded all the boats coming in from Foggy Bay for inspection, but we did not find this to be the case now. After a few formal questions by the CBP agent, we had cleared in without any issues and were officially in Alaska and had transited the BC part of the Inside Passage! Time to celebrate! Off we headed to the laundromat ...