Exploring the Inside Passage

September 21, 2010

Thank you for the great job you have done creating the Waggoner Cruising Guide. In 2008 I was given a copy as a boat warming gift for my purchase of a Miller 28 sailboat in Bellingham. With that, and an old Hobie Cat stripped of its sailing gear in tow with a rowing shell and sea kayak, I headed out to explore the B.C. coast and especially the fjords east of the Inside Passage.

Three sailing seasons later I made it to my haul out in Ketchikan Alaska. I have been up every fjord from Salmon Inlet off Sechelt Inlet, to Portland Canal and the towns of Stewart, B.C. and Hyder, Alaska. Mountain scenery was my primary objective, but intermediate and coastal was pretty special as well. What an incredible experience with the places I've seen, the wildlife, and especially the people I have met along the way. Your publication made my experience even more enjoyable. Reading about places, history, and the sheer amount of information you have incorporated into this great resource! Except for the west coast of Vancouver Island you could say I've read it cover to cover and several times at that.

What I can't really understand is why the majority of the yachting crowd on the Inside Passage is heading to Alaska, passing up incredible people, places, and scenery. I guess next year I'll get to start finding out. Towing the Hobie is a little bit of a nuisance at times, but the ability to see scenery up close at human speed and portaging into lakes, lagoons and estuaries is worth the effort. Paddling next to thousands of feet of granite dropping straight into the fjords, or at low tide right next to shore, is like being in the forest, with 100-year-old stumps with the spring board scars still visible from the hand logging days. Seeing wildlife up close is pretty special as well, although I would like Mrs. Merganser to know that I'm really not threatening. They don't have to expend so much energy trying to get away. It's amazing how fast those little babies are and how far they will go.

After I've spent time seing the rest of the Inside Passage my thought is to get a trimaran, ditch the Hobie and see the outside. What a thought – sailing back to Puget Sound with a following wind! A couple living aboard a twin-masted sailboat in the Broughtons told me, "The wind is always coming from where you're going." I'm convinced most sailors should just buy a powerboat, for most never seem to raise the sails, even when the wind is in their favor.

I have had the pleasure of sailing up many of the longest fjords and lucked out and got to sail out half of Portland Canal and most of Pearse on my way to Ketchikan. I am just a little envious of the folks with push button windlasses and have to laugh at some of the depths you mention anchoring in. With my roderider and at times creative stern tying and a few sleepless nights I have been able to safely anchor everywhere. Reading horror stories of leaving anchors and seeing all the logging cables disappear into the anchorages is always a little disturbing. I only pulled up two surprises and was able to get them off. A few more times I was able to motor arround until I freed up whatever was holding my anchor.

Keep up the good work,
Rick Hoffmann

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