Circumnavigating Vancouver Island Flotilla | Day 11 | North Harbour to Columbia Cove

We’d departed North Harbour between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. for the trip around Brooks Peninsula. It’s not a particularly long trip—about 36nm—and the forecast didn’t look like morning would be any calmer than afternoon, but we wanted to leave ample time for exploring Columbia Cove once we arrived. Crossing the mouth of Quatsino Sound was the bumpiest part of the day. No wind, just some confused swells. We motored through … Read more

Knowing and Trusting Your Sources

When choosing navigation routes and anchorages, particularly in remote areas, there are numerous sources of information available to cruisers. There are paper and electronic charts, chartplotters, apps (such as Coastal Explorer, Navionics, and iNavX) for computers, smart phones, and tablets, as well as physical reference books. In SE Alaska, the books we typically use are (1) the Douglass’ guide “Exploring Southeast Alaska” and (2) “Charlie’s Charts North to Alaska.”  One … Read more

Safe Harbour | Vixen Harbor, Tolstoi Bay, and Ketchikan

Clarence Strait, more than anywhere else in Alaska, has beaten me up. It’s a big body of water, open at the south end to Dixon Entrance, and even with just 15 knots of wind on the bow, it gets uncomfortable. From McHenry Anchorage I planned to head south in Clarence Strait to Kasaan Inlet to meet up with Tom and Caroline on Silver Bay. The weather had other plans. I … Read more

Safe Harbour | St. John Harbor, Shrubby Island, McHenry Anchorage

From Petersburg I had two goals: see as many new anchorages as possible, and make it to Ketchikan (only about 110 nautical miles) before a flight out of town in a week. Easy! After a morning of chores in Petersburg, I rode the flood south, to arrive at Papke’s Landing (roughly the mid-point, where the flood current from each side meets) at high water. The timing worked out nicely, but … Read more

Day 15 | Flotilla to Alaska | Windy Bay to Butedale

We’ve been lucky with the weather so far. We’ve had sun almost every day, sometimes not until the afternoon and occasionally with some rain showers mixed in, but overall it’s been really nice. Yesterday afternoon, clouds moved in, and this morning felt like a typical day on B.C.’s central coast: misty with low clouds clinging to the mountainsides. Since it was too bumpy yesterday afternoon to run the dinghies up … Read more

Slipless in Seattle: Full-Time Cruising on Puget Sound

Since buying Safe Harbour three and a half years ago, I’ve been fortunate to spend each summer cruising British Columbia and Alaska. As spring rolled around I’d let the marina know that May would be my last month. And each fall I returned and lived aboard through the winter, spending most of my time at the dock. This winter was different. Unlike my previous job, working on Slowboat doesn’t mean … Read more

Where Can I Anchor on Lake Washington?

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been cruising Lake Union and Lake Washington. As a boater who prefers anchoring to tying up at marinas, these lakes present a bit of a problem. While several bays look appealing, anchoring is highly restricted. Apparently anchored boats have caused problems in the past. Lake Washington is surrounded by the area’s most expensive residential real estate, and the wealthy waterfront residents don’t like when … 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