Home When Where Inside Passage-AK

The Idea

It took a while for the idea to escape the dream stage.  Take a small motorboat up the inside passage to Alaska.  Unreal.  Yet, we knew people had done it – parts of it.  At first, I considered such a trip reckless.  Penny and I have enough experience cruising under sail to know how nasty conditions can get.  On board our sailboat we take comfort in the fact that if the motor quits, we can sail home.  It has and we have.  In an outboard boat, how do you get home if the motor dies?  The remoteness of the area carries much of its appeal; but, results in fewer people around to rescue you.  The radio may not be a solution.  Those spectacular mountains with vertical cliffs, reaching into the sea, might block your call for help.  Speaking of mountains with cliffs reaching under water; wouldn’t anchoring be difficult?  What about gas?  We have a safe range of about 100 miles.  Would that do?  Visibility is often limited.  There are not just currents but rapids that must be transited.

A ‘buddy boat’; that’s it.  Take your rescuer with you.  Let’s see.  How would this work?  Your buddy will go where you want to go, leave when you want to leave and travel at your pace. Well, maybe not.  Let’s turn it around.  We’ll go where he wants to go, when he wants to go and travel at his pace - possible.  Put that idea on hold.

We knew that Halcyon, Naknek and Rana Verde planned to cruise on Lake Powell in the spring.  We knew them and liked cruising with them.  Penny and I agreed to leave Marathon in time to join the group at Powell.  The timing was right and it is much shorter than going to Annapolis and then to Powell.  That settled, we took off in Wanderer and headed up the west coast of Florida. 

Sometime toward the end of the trip, we agreed that if we hurried home we could get on the internet and learn more about what would be involved in taking the boat to Alaska. 

As a preliminary step, I ordered cruising guides.  We continued to study the Planning Maps and read the guides.  Before long our sentences would begin with ‘once we’re that far west…’  No doubt, you see the ‘mission creep’.  One day Penny saw Russia printed in the corner of one of the maps.  She said, “I’m not going to Russia.”.. Good, the plan is coming together.

It soon became apparent that if we didn’t act to prepare the boat for Alaska we would not be ready to continue if we decided to do so.  I ordered a set of electronic charts to cover Anacortes to Skagway.  I ordered radar and installed it.  I prepared a new anchor rode with 50 feet of chain and 250 feet of rope.  I tried to get a Honda 8 installed to give us a second motor.  No one was willing to act soon enough.

It was time to go.  We’d see about a ‘buddy boat’ at Powell.  On April 1st we changed plans, deciding to go to Annapolis, get rid of a few things and kiss children and grandchildren.

On April 12, 2006, we left Annapolis towing Wanderer.  Six days later, we launched on Lake Powell.  There we learned that Naknek, Halcyon and Rana Verde were maybe going somewhere in the Northwest.  Probably???

Maybe we’d cruise with some of the group at times but no commitments.  So much for a ‘buddy boat.’  I think it was Chris who once commented, “If you feel you need a buddy boat, you probably shouldn’t go.”  Good advice.  I said to Penny, “Let’s start out; we'll go from Anacortes to the next harbor.  If we reach it, we’ll decide whether to return or go on to the next harbor.”  Penny agreed.