Sideways Sally set out on new adventures this summer, jumping aboard S/V Hermitage. Hermitage and crew were aiming for Alaska, leaving Prince Rupert on June 10, 2022. Hermitage is owned and skippered by Don, a rancher from Alberta who is returning to his dream of sailing after a 30 year hiatus. Sadly, the crew from the UK that we had recruited was turned back in Prince Rupert after attempting multiple ways to obtain an entry visa as crew on a sailing vessel entering the USA.
Hermitage and crew were up and at ’em early, listening to the Environment Canada VHF broadcast for Dixon Entrance East. Winds were forecasted SE from 10-20 knots with 3-4 foot seas. The Maple Leaf 42 is a capable boat for the Pacific Northwest. The center cockpit pilot house is dry and warm, the crew was enthusiastic. We decided we were safe for moderate seas and reasonable winds up to 25 knots.
We set the course through Venn Passage, a short cut north that winds it’s way like a long skinny snake through the channels between Digby Island and the mainland. We passed the ferry terminal to Digby, which provides service to passengers flying in and out of the Prince Rupert Airport located on the island. Then Metlakatla Village came around the last bend before entering Chatham Sound. The wind and waves built as we crossed Chatham Sound, sailing at a steady 6-7 knots in three foot seas.
SV Hermitage, a Maple Leaf 42′ vessel, home port is Shelter Island Marina. Owner and Skipper is Don Kallusky from Edson, Alberta. Don is a retired rancher who also owned several restaurants over the years. He was and is an excellent chef and spoils his crew with his amazing galley and skills.
Dixon Entrance became uncomfortable but not dangerous as the seas built to 4-6 feet. We knocked some grass off the hull as we rocked and rolled in the broad reach, at times surfing the swells. We watched unsecured items shift to the floor. “It can’t fall off the floor” and “nothing broke” I called out from the wheel in pilot house. Rain off and on competed with the saltwater splashing the isoglass.
Northwest of Cape Fox we entered “Foggy Bay” which was well protected and on this evening, not foggy! The inner basin was a welcoming contrast to the wave action in the open waters exposed to the Pacific Ocean. Friends had informed us that this was a great stopover on the way to Ketchikan.
After calling ahead to Border Services and uploading the ROAM app for entry to the USA, we relaxed over dinner. I glanced over the surrounding shoreline looking for wild life and found a black grizzly munching on his salad. The big handsome brute was oblivious to our boat and another that came in to shelter for the night.
Then next day greeted us with calm seas as we motored up Revillagigedo Channel toward Ketchikan. Cruise ships are active again and we are a tiny splotch on the navigation screen in comparison. I like to chat with the Captains who are always happy to let us know which side of the channel we should stick to to keep out of the way.
Arriving to the many marinas in the harbor, the guidebooks directed us to call the harbor master to obtain moorage in the “hot berthing” system. This gives transient boaters moorage in slips owned by fishing vessels who are away. We received our slip assignment and entered behind the breakwater in Bar Harbor South. For the first time all day the wind whipped up along with the current rushing in with the incoming 18 foot tide. While we searched for the numbers on the fingers of the dock, Don struggled to keep Hermitage in the middle, between giant outboard motors on sport fishing vessels, and large trawlers that obstructed the view of the slip numbers.
Once we found the slip, we tried to turn in, but the wind and current swept Hermitage onto the opposite side, dangerously close to those big outboards. I threw down a fender and tried to fend off with the boat hook. A long painful screeeech of the metal against the hull produced some angst until we could clear off enough to get into the next slip past the one assigned to us. A kind gentleman came out of his boat to help fend off and went to catch our lines as we finally eased the bow in.
These moments seem like forever and never leave the mind of the Skipper and crew, makin us feel rattled and exhausted. The guy who helped us suggested that we were a big boat for that slip, and that he could not have been able to do what we did and recover without major damage to any boats. Such kind words. I reassured Don that these things happen to any boater, especially when entering unfamiliar harbors in unfavorable conditions.
After a stiff scotch and a warm meal, the Skipper and I debriefed and reflected on ways to deal with the situation and how to improve the docking experience. Short of vowing never to go into crowded marinas and live at anchor for the entire trip, we agreed to sleep on it and come up with more solutions in the morning.
So yes you can, in Ketchikan, like anywhere, have trouble docking, no trouble swearing, or being embarrassed, frustrated and humbled.
Click on link below for chart of Prince Rupert to Ketchikan