Prince Rupert to Foggy Bay, Alaska. June 17, 2019.
22 June 2019 | posted at Ketchikan
Photo: Tree Point with Lighthouse almost obscured in fog and rain.
Rain hammered on the roof of Osprey's dodger as we motored out of Prince Rupert Harbour, heading for Venn Passage, the narrow winding passage between Prince Rupert and Chatham Sound - the first leg of crossing the Dixon Entrance from British Columbia to Alaska.
The weather forecast called for SE winds, 15-25 knots increasing to SW 20-30 in the afternoon. That was more wind than we liked but not enough to postpone the crossing. Plus, with our 6:00 am start and only 50 miles to go we hoped to be in protected water before the wind shift. But I wasn't looking forward to the rain.
As we entered Venn Passage, the rain slacked to mere dribbles, making it easy to see the many markers. We also had the current with us. The challenge, we soon discovered, was other boats, not shallows. A small runabout crowded us near the beginning and the presence of two large powerboats close behind us made us nervous.
The wind increased and the rain returned as we made the last turn out of Venn Passage and into Chatham Sound. We rolled out the jib and soon we were sailing at a brisk rate through a light chop. Thanks to our hard dodger we kept warm and dry.
At 1020, we passed Green Island, the last Canadian lighthouse on this passage, its classical red roofs shrouded in mist.
At 1235 we crossed the border and set the clock back to Alaska Daylight Time. Ahead we could see the low land of Cape Fox. The wind carried us forward faster and faster and although the seas were only a few feet, they were steep and irregular, forcing us to hang on.
Soon we were passing Tree Point, the first Alaska lighthouse on this trip. Tall and rectangular, its white Art Moderne tower was barely visible through the mist. Through the mist we could see fishing boats rolling back and forth in the swells.
The wind diminished as we approached Foggy Bay so we rolled in the jib and started the engine, but the waves continued steep and erratic and as we made our turn towards Foggy Bay, the seas steepened even more in the shallower water. We passed the outlying rocks and headed towards the entrance to the inner harbor. Was that it among the rocks? Black rocks poked above foaming swells.This was not the quiet entrance we were used to. Steve steered towards the opening in the rocks, we shot through it and turned right into the channel. Seconds later we were in calm water. We'd successfully passed through the next gate. We were in Alaska.
On the same day, farther out in Dixon Entrance, the R2AK racing trimaran, Holopuni, swamped and its crew were forced to request a rescue. Two days later they were able to recover their boat and finish the course.
To see a map of the Dixon Entrance area, google Tree Point Lighthouse, then scroll out until you see Ketchikan at the top of the map and islands below Dixon Entrance at the bottom.