Alaska Cruise: Ketchikan to Friday Harbor

Explore the islands and inlets of British Columbia on this 10-day adventure from Ketchikan, Alaska to Friday Harbor, Washington. British Columbia’s coastal temperate rainforests are characterized by some of the oldest and largest trees on Earth, which may support the highest fungal and lichen diversity of any forest system. This area is also home to the "great bears" of coastal BC, some of which can weigh over a thousand pounds! The bears include the brown or grizzly bear, the black bear and the genetically-unique subspecies of the black bear, the Kermode bear. A recessive genetic trait gives this small percentage of the black bears a white or cream colored coat. These white bears are known as spirit bears and have enriched the native mythology in the area.

Itinerary

Days 1-2: Ketchikan / Embark / Foggy Bay

You will be welcomed aboard at 12:30 p.m. After an introduction to the boat, enjoy a late lunch as you are underway. There will be good time to explore the Catalyst. Spend time checking out the pilot house and engine room as you head south to cross the legendary Dixon Entrance and leave Alaskan waters for the shores of British Columbia. With good weather you should make the layover in Foggy Bay or continue across for another safe harbor. There is an extra day in the schedule, so that you can take advantage of favorable tides and winds.

Days 3-5: Inside Passage Exploring

You are now in the true “Inside Passage.” See barges, tugs, ferries and cruise ships. You will make a few turns off of the “main road” to visit some interesting fjords and bays. Explore narrow, ice-sculpted canyons lined with waterfalls and in the river delta at the inlets head, you may see a brown bear feeding on sedges. This is also the homeland of the rare “Spirit Bear,” a genetic mutation in the black bears of this region causes about 10 percent of them to be born with white fur. They are hard to see from the water, but sharp eyes may be rewarded! You may stop and take a hike with a bear guide and also stop at an old cannery along the way. Also, keep a keen eye for wolves.

Days 6-7: Queen Charlotte Sound

During this time you will make the open-ocean crossing. Queen Charlotte Sound can be formidable, so there will be an early start.

Days 8-9: Copeland Islands / Squirrel Cove

There will be three major rapids to navigate. You will transit Whirlpool Point, Dent and Greene Point Rapids. Traveling south through the Copeland Islands and down into Desolation Sound, with anchorage will be perhaps at Squirrel Cove. This is a good place to launch kayaks and take a relaxed paddle around this protected cove. A unique feature of Squirrel Cove is a lagoon with a reversing tidal rapid, which is great fun in the warm waters of summer. The Gulf of Georgia is about 30 miles square, and can generate significant wind waves. You will cross from the mainland side of the Gulf into the sheltered waters of the Gulf Islands of Vancouver Island with a potential stop at Nanaimo. You will celebrate the last night with the Captain’s Ball, sharing in adventures together.

Day 10: Disembark / Friday Harbor

Like all other trips through these narrow reaches, the schedule is set around the tides. The narrowest passages become choke points for the currents flow, and can produce water flows double the speed of the “Catalyst.” As you continue through the Gulf and San Juan Islands, cross the international border and go through customs in Friday Harbor. Here goodbyes are said and you’re invited to explore Friday Harbor before you head home aboard the ferry or plane. You will arrive in time to make the evening ferry to the mainland.

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