Photo: The Prince Rupert Waterfront from the Cow Bay Marina
We crossed the Dixon Entrance in water so calm it stretched out in front of us as an undulating mirror. "We're in Canada now," announced Steve, pointing on the chart plotter to the border line that we had just crossed. I set the boat's clock an hour ahead, Pacific Daylight Time instead of Alaska Daylight Time.
We tied up at the new Cow Bay Marina, operated by the Port of Prince Rupert. After years of worrying if there would be space for us at the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club and being shoehorned into too small slips if we were lucky, it was a pleasure to have so much space - plus laundry and restrooms right on the dock.
Prince Rupert and Ketchikan are of similar size, roughly 12,00 people and in fact are sister cities. Ketchikan prides itself in being the "Salmon Capital of the World "while Prince Rupert once claimed to be the halibut capital of the world - back in the days when both British Columbia and Alaskan fishermen shipped their halibut to the Midwest by the Grand Trunk Railway (now part of the CN system), terminating in Prince Rupert.
For where Ketchikan has cruise ships, Prince Rupert has container ships - and coal ships, propane ships, grain ships and lumber ships. And Prince Rupert is a railway town.
It seemed consistent with the differences between the two towns that in Ketchikan we have fun, but in Prince Rupert we get things done. First order of business for me: get a haircut. On one of our first trips to Ketchikan, I had tried to get a haircut but could found only three salons in town: two of which didn't answer their phones and the third with no appointments available. In Prince Rupert, Google Maps turned red with hits for hair salons. The first and closest salon I called offered me an appointment in an hour.
While Steve worked on the engine, I headed along the shore then up the hill, passing the one (and empty) cruise ship dock and the city park. I found the salon in a nondescript building next to the Museum of Northern British Columbia. The clean modern salon looked over the park towards the harbour and beyond. I gulped. How much was this going to cost? I should have asked before making the appointment. But when I got the bill, it was less than a haircut in Ballard, not even counting the currency exchange benefit.
As I walked out of the salon, my phone rang. It was Steve, telling me he still had the engine apart, don't hurry back. I headed for Walmart. I don't normally shop at Walmart but I had the impression they sold just about everything, and I needed a new watchband and a new silver chain to replace one with a broken clasp. But the Walmart in Prince Rupert sold mostly clothes and a few pharmaceuticals and food. Google pointed me to Cook's Jewelry four or five blocks away.
Photo: Downtown Prince Rupert
I walked across town past banks, offices, gift stores and empty store fronts. I found the jewelry store in an old fashioned storefront and walked into the kind of jewelry store I remembered from my childhood: beautiful wooden display cases full of watches, diamond rings and silver and gold jewelry in Native designs.
An older woman came out from behind a case to greet me. I showed her my broken necklace and told her I wanted to replace it with something the same size.
"Oh, you don't need to do that. We can fix it," she said, showing me a tray of replacement clasps.
I drew out the watch band from my purse and showed it to her,
"Oh, we can fix that!" she said.
"Even if it's rusty?"
I left with a repaired necklace and a promise my watch would be ready by the end of the day. Strolling down the street, I passed the city hall surrounded by gardens and totem poles. In between two poles stood a statue of Charles Melville Hays, an American railroad magnate credited with being responsible for creating Canada's Grand Trunk Railroad. The lawn was neatly manicured with benches and places to sit and walk and no litter anywhere. If I wasn't in Ketchikan, I also wasn't in Seattle.
Photo: A statue of Hays and a totem pole at the City Hall
From the City Hall, I walked downhill and then across town, passing a Safeway grocery store and a BC liquor store - shopping there would be tomorrow's tasks.
To see a map showing the location of Prince Rupert and Ketchikan open Google Maps and search for Prince Rupert or Ketchikan and expand out.