Monday, June 07, 2010

Alaska at last!

Well, we could have rowed the dinghy with one oar here faster, but we finally made the last frontier.

Crossing the border was quickly celebrated by a 2008 Alaskan Smoked Porter bought in Washington. A very tastey way to come into the country.

We anchored for a night in crowded Foggy Bay, the first protected spot from the Canadian border to Ketchikan, and where everybody stops, it seams. The bay filled up in the evening, and emptied at 06:30. We had a glorious 30 mile sail on a run all the way through the narrows and nearly up to the dock. We gybed once - the wind was so steady. It is amazing how good that feels.

As we sailed past, Mo pointed out the elementary she and Petra Wilm worked on back in the Cretaceous Period.

We settled into Bar Harbor and set out for a walk to town along the busiest road in Alaska, they tell us. Apparently not a commuting town. This totem pole, we thought pretty well sums up the sentiments of most Ketchikan residents towards the cruise ship tourists.

After seeing this one, and a few others with similar themes....
We started to take our own protection around the totem poles in town a little more seriously. Mo had to fight off this monsterous and agressively postured beaver. I was too busy laughing.

We somehow survived the totem park, and straggled into the old red light district, Creek Street. Where both salmon and men used to go upstream to spawn...

As Johnathan Raban wrote in his thoughtful book Passage to Juneau, a sea and its meaning, a fellow could probably still find a good time in today's Ketchikan just a few blocks further on. But they don't sell postcards of that neighborhood. A diversion from the Creek Street diversions was needed, and a new trail built to allow safe passage for the good men of Ketchikan. Heck, even the fish get an easier way.

We met a kinsman Matthew again. He's sailed his 20' Flicka (a boat model that has circumnavigated, by the way) Alacrity from Seattle, and carries a packraft for a dinghy. We got off on the right foot from the start and had a beer with him in Prince Rupert, then pulled in two slips away in Ketchikan. He was meeting his friend Kelly to go around Misty Fjords and points north. We know we'll cross paths again, and wish them fair winds.
Then the world stopped for a bit as we spotted our first pipefish. Really a straightened seahorse, they are somewhat legendary and really hard to spot. They look just like a piece of floating eelgrass. The tiny fin on her back undulates, so she doesn't need to move and attract attention. Like the seahorses, the males also brood the young in their belly pouch. So great.
Did we mention it's good to be back in Alaska?


  1. Fawn Mountain wasn't so long ago, was it? Glad to see you're here! I was just down in Juneau for a week...and although it was close, still not close enough to see you guys. Say hi to the Mertl's for me when you get to Juneau!