A short preamble to our Alaska trip 2016. The Why, The What & The How.
May 28th 2016
OK, so everyone has a bucket list of some sort. I guess the number one item on ours is sailing around the world. We’ve nearly done it but can’t tick the box for that one just yet. Then of course there are the sub categories on the list and at the top of that list has always been Alaska.
When we first came up with the idea of a trip to the 49th state we looked at lots of options. Sailing GWTW up there ahhh too far and too hard so that idea got scratched pretty quick. Maybe book on a big cruise ship or a small cruise ship, jump on a train or mix it up a bit and do a combo fly, coach, rail and cruise trip. They were all worthy of consideration. After all, millions of fellow travelers see the state this way but sharing the experience of a lifetime with a gaggle of total strangers just didn’t sit right with us.
So the research hound here buried her head in the internet for a few weeks ‘till she came up with a good all round solution. Way back in the archives of my mind I remember someone once talking about bareboat charters in Alaska, and that little spark was about to turn into reality for us.
After calling a few companies, submitting our boating resume and pouring over what was on offer we settled on an outfit called Northwest Explorations (NWE) based in Bellingham in Washington State. NWE had the most diversified fleet of boats in both price and size and sported an excellent Alaska program named Mother Goose.There were several legs to this Alaska trip, all with different durations and destinations and with the option of of having a paid skipper on board or being self skippered. We chose to do leg, # 2, and we”d skipper and run the boat ourselves for 19 days.
Our trip, starting in the coastal town of Sitka in southeast Alaska, would be the same as the other legs being of a flotilla nature, with a lead boat and five boats following. One thing that we really liked was that unlike the bareboat flotillas in the Caribbean, it was our choice whether to stay with the group or go off on our own for a few days or indeed the entire trip. The only stipulation and it was a reasonable one, was that you must arrive at the finish destination of Cordova in Prince William Sound on the specified date.
Looking through the specifications of the vessels that were available we chose a DeFever 46 trawler named Heli Mai. She had a great layout.There were two helm stations, one in the raised pilot house which was spacious and comfy and the other up on the semi enclosed flying bridge with 360 degree views. She had excellent accommodation and her interior was well appointed. The galley was equipped with everything you could want including a household fridge, icemaker and trash compactor. Internal heating and a washer/dryer combo topped off the list of accessories. One of the reasons that we chose this vessel over the others in the fleet was that she had the same navigation electronics that we run on GWTW, and that was the icing on the cake. So with all the details sorted it and the deposit paid it was time to start getting excited.
As we were looking into booking flights we had another thought. It made perfect sense to see as much as we could while we were up there, after all we’d probably never be coming back. With that, the idea of renting an RV for a couple of weeks once we got off the boat sprang to mind. A few days later that too was booked. We settled on a Winnebago 27ft Minnie Winne through Great Alaskan Holidays based in Anchorage. The RV came with pretty good sized accommodation, and a shower and toilet although unlike Heli Mai, you had to rent everything bar the basics including a toaster, kettle,BBQ and outdoor chairs. We thought that was a bit rich.
With all the bookings done and a loose plan for where to go in the RV this holiday was really shaping up to be one hell of a trip, and before we new it our bags were packed and we were sitting on our Delta plane and heading north.