Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Ketchikan to La Conner    650-miles   May 1st thru ?


La Rose - a 1980 Nauticat 44 motor sailor


Last month I gave my friend Gerry a call and said the usual "We have another 'once in a lifetime' adventure, you in?"  Gerry replied "sure, what are we doing?"  "Bringing a boat home from Ketchikan".  He replied "sounds like fun, when are we leaving?"  Gerry is always up for another life experience, and it is always great to have him along.

The Inside Passage should be respected in the off-season.  The weather becomes more dependable beginning in May, and the Trawlerfest Anacortes boat show starts in mid-May which I needed to be home back for, those two items dictated my schedule.  I booked my Alaska Airlines ticket for April 28th hoping to get a two-day head start...

On Tuesday morning, the 28th, the Alaska flight attendant said "those heading for Ketchikan may want to leave the plane, we will not be landing in Ketchikan this morning due to the high winds".  The previous night I checked NOAA weather and saw a gale warning.   That morning the Airport was closed due to the storm and recorded a 104-knot wind gust.  So much for trying for a two-day head start!  A quick check of my Accuweather Marine Weather app showed that storm had been upgraded to "hurricane force winds", I had never seen that on NOAA previously.  We flew in that evening, found the boat and went to sleep; the adventure had begun.

The Safeway Store near Bar Harbor Marina - boxes for boaters!  Gerry & Scott.

The next morning we inventoried the boat, a nice 1980 Nauticat 44 named La Rose which I had sold several years earlier.  We would be helping the owner by bringing her home after 5-years in Ketchikan.  Our third crew member is Scott from Santa Rosa, you may remember him from last summers delivery aboard an American Tug from San Francisco to LA.

Ketchikan is a compact town, spread out below a hillside along the shores of Tongass Narrows, most everything is within walking distance of Bar Harbor marina which is centrally located.  Nearby is a Safeway store, several good breakfast diners and the famous Tongass Trading Company marine store, my personal  favorite in this town.  The Safeway has a pallet of folded boxes near the checkstands so that patrons can pack their groceries for trips aboard fishing boats, seaplanes, yachts and landing craft to where people live and work in the surrounding community, this is Alaska.

Tongass Trading's Marine store near the marina.  Best crab & prawn trap selection anywhere.

Xtratuf boot selection; dress like a local!
The weather following Tuesday's windstorm has been mostly windy and rainy, with 25-35 knots on the water and 6-8 foot waves at Dixon Entrance.   We used this extra time to check all the mechanical systems aboard La Rose, clean the decks, get provisions, and wait.   Friday is looking promising, May 1st!, right on schedule.  The NOAA weather prediction is now for a SE Wind 15-knots and 3-foot seas at Dixon Entrance.  That is what I was hoping for on the crossing over to Prince Rupert.  We will be leaving at first light tomorrow morning.  Stay tuned!

You can check the US NOAA marine forecasts here:  http://www.arh.noaa.gov/wmofcst.php?wmo=FZAK51PAJK&type=marine

The Canadian forecast is here:  http://weather.gc.ca/marine/forecast_e.html?mapID=01&siteID=03300

I like to watch both the US NOAA and Canadian weather.