Alaska 2018 – June 1
8:39 pm. I am on the ferry on the way to Ketchikan. We took off a little over three hours ago.
I drove from Puget Island to Tacoma to pick up my loaner kayak from NC Kayaks, the company building my 19′ expedition kayak. Their kayak painter, Travis, loaned me his 19’er for this trip so I can get a feel for how the boat I will use next year will perform. After picking up Travis’ boat, I drove to the Bellingham Ferry Terminal, arriving within plenty of time to figure out how to fit all my gear, food, charts, clothes, etc. into this new boat, and then get it all onto the ferry.
The porters were helpful in letting me on earlier than the other walk-ons, mainly because I think they took pity on me with this giant 19′ kayak and gear, which they helped me get into the car deck, then directing me to the choice spots for campers. I found a nice spot on the stern of Deck 6 for my tent where I could clearly see the shorelines all around. They have a solarium on Deck 7, but it is on top of the dining hall so it is hard to see out everywhere. Plus, the solarium was packed with other campers and I wanted a bit more personal space for this solo journey. I still was able to meet the two other human-powered boaters on board – the first a gentleman from Japan, with nothing more than a skin-on-frame he built and a medium-size dry bag, who was going up to Skagway to begin a 1200 km solo paddle south, and the other a man with a self-built kayak/canoe hybrid he was paddling from Skagway to Juneau.
It turns out the ferry is run by the State of Alaska, so it’s not exactly set up to be a money maker. They actually have flyers in their rack of brochures with calls for support of the Alaska Ferry System to find ways of raising money to help support their aging fleet. It was no surprise that when I had dinner in the dining room the prices were quite reasonable and they don’t allow tipping ferry employees. I mean, like, you can’t do it, even though every single crew member was incredibly helpful and hard working.
After dinner I sat outside my tent and scouted the shorelines against the charts I brought with me until around 11 pm when the sky was still quite bright but I was quite beat after the long drive from Puget Island.