What does it take to cruise from the
area to Seattle Southeast Alaska in your own boat? Miles. A lot of miles. Most of which will be done
under motor. And to go along with those miles, you’re going to need a lot of
time and patience.
You probably won’t need as much time as us. We’re pretty slow when it comes to cruising and we like to take our time, enjoying stops along the way. We dropped our lines on the first of April and didn’t tie up again until the end of October. That’s the total number of days you’ll find listed below, but the actual amount of time we spent in
was three months with about two weeks of travel on
each side (i.e. four months altogether). I should add that some of the days we spent waiting for the weather to clear, it would've been safe for us to be on the move. However, one of the reasons we went was to view the scenery, a lot of which was hidden by rain and low clouds. Alaska
Our daily distance number below doesn’t represent the whole story. Towards the end of the season, we spent several weeks in and around the
( Gulf Islands )
where the distance between anchorages was often less than ten miles. A more
accurate number for passages on our way north and while we were cruising Alaska
was approximately 50 miles or more (which means we were underway 7+ hours most
travel days). British
|Cambria motoring up Tarr Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park.|
Inside Passage runs in a northwesterly direction and the wind generally
comes from that quadrant during the summer months. It is, however, light. That
coupled with narrow inlets and channels means the opportunities to sail are few
and far between. Over the course of seven months, we never raised our mainsail
and threw out the jib for a downwind push only a handful of times: Motoring,
unfortunately, is the norm.
*this number includes time for anchor up/down, oil changes, and maintenance.
|Brrrrrr!!! It's cold in Alaska . . . even in July!|
It’s difficult to imagine cruising in the
without a heater aboard, especially in the higher latitudes. Ours is a hydronic system that’s fueled by diesel and consumes about a third of a gallon for every
hour of use. The boiler is located behind our berth and wakes me up when it
cycles during the night, so we only run it during daytime hours.
Our energy needs were primarily filled from three sources: alternator output, the solar panels, and a portable generator. The fourth source, shore power, came from the few nights we spent tied up in marinas.
|For a closer look at David's handy-dandy graph, click on the jpeg.|
As you can see from the numbers, spending a season in
can be costly in terms of time, miles, and fossil
fuels consumed. If we could sail there and back, I think we’d both be happy to
make the trip again – we saw and did some amazing things, after all. But the chances of that happening are pretty slim, so we'll just have to content ourselves on sights a little closer to "home" this season, starting with British Columbia's Gulf Islands and see where the wind carries us after that. Alaska