Safe Harbour | To Princess Louisa Inlet!

Princess Louisa Inlet is iconic. It’s a “holy grail,” and with good reason. It’s not too far from the major population centers (200nm from Seattle, for instance), yet it is among the most scenic spots on the coast. Cliffs rise from the water all the way to peaks thousands of feet above. Waterfalls tumble down. Trees cling for dear life. A classic fjord. About 10 years ago, Princess Louisa was … Read more

Safe Harbour | Winter Boating in the San Juans

Three weeks have elapsed since I wrote from Sucia Island. Since then, I’ve been wandering around the San Juans, trying to stay warm and avoid the worst of the windy weather we’ve been experiencing. Destinations have included Jones Island, Fisherman Bay, Blind Bay, Friday Harbor, Sylvan Cove, Brigantine Bay, Cypress Island, and more. I haven’t been in the San Juans since August, and it’s amazing how different they are this … Read more

Safe Harbour | Back to the San Juans

Half a mile outside of Elliott Bay Marina, I peeked into the engine room and saw hot, strawberry-red coolant spraying out of a now-disconnected hose. Twenty knots of southerly breeze was pushing me towards Magnolia Bluff. Instinctively I dropped the anchor and shut down the engine. This was a maintenance-induced failure. I’d just had the whole cooling system apart to clean or replace several components. Although I’d test run the … Read more

Safe Harbour | Six Days on Puget Sound

For the last several winters I’ve kept the boat in Anacortes, just an hour from the San Juan Islands. The winter boating was superb, with a dozen or more State Parks within a few hours cruise. More often than not, I was the only visitor. This winter, I’m based at Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle. And while it’s not close to deserted islands, I’m thoroughly enjoying winter cruising on Puget … Read more

Nine Boats to Alaska: Failure Analysis

Last summer I took eight boats (nine including mine) from Anacortes to Southeast Alaska. Naturally, we experienced a few failures along the way. Below is an accounting of those failures, how we addressed them, and what lessons can be taken away. Failure: Inverter cabling This “professionally-installed” inverter cabling was woefully undersized—2 AWG rather than the specified 2/0 AWG, and the lug was 2/0 sized and poorly crimped to the cable. … Read more

The Case for Alaska

“Can I call you right back? A couple orcas just surfaced right in front of the boat and I don’t want to hit them,” I frantically told the U.S. Customs officer as I eased the throttle back. “No problem, that’ll happen,” the officer responded. Welcome to Alaska. We were motoring north in Tongass Narrows, on our way into Ketchikan after a three-week transit through British Columbia. Anchored in Foggy Bay … Read more

Ford’s Terror

Ford’s Terror  might just be the most beautiful place on the planet. Cliffs—absolutely humongous granite walls, really—rise from water’s edge to snowcapped bowls and peaks 5000 feet above. Countless waterfalls, some trickles, others torrents, plunge from these peaks. Bears forage ashore. Dolphins frolic around anchored boats. The scale of Ford’s Terror is difficult to comprehend and impossible to convey. It’s like Yosemite, but with water in the valleys, no crowds, … Read more

Safe Harbour to Alaska | Day 8 | Pierre’s Echo Bay to Fury Cove

Rounding Cape Caution can be a challenge. Queen Charlotte Sound is one of the few places where the Inside Passage goes outside. Normally we go to Port McNeill before rounding Cape Caution. This gives everyone a chance to resupply (there’s a supermarket!), fill boats with fuel, and catch up on chores. Last year we got stuck in Port McNeill for several days waiting for strong winds to die down. Read … Read more