Long Distance Cruising

Crew Perspective

We are in Ketchikan, Alaska. We left from Port Angeles Wa. on Thursday Sept. 1st at 0800 in dense fog. Our first two days were in pea-soup fog conditions and we didn’t see the sun until late on Saturday, October 3. The prevailing ground swells were very large but, due to a lack of any real breeze, they were pretty far apart and gentle.

That soon changed around 1 PM Saturday as the wind began to increase and the seas began to build. The wind reached about 30 knots mean with gusts to 45k from the SSE, the seas were coming in from NNW creating confused and very large troughs. Our nice comfy ride was turning into a bucking, pitching roller-coaster. We took some deep rolls and the auto-pilot was unable to steer without contributing to the roll. We were forced to hand steer through the night and much of Sunday as well. We had rough seas the rest of the way into the Dixon entrance on Monday albeit less wind.

Caroline on a roll; note the angle of the horizon vs the angle of the deck
900 foot tanker taking seas over her bow

By late Monday afternoon we were able to re-engage the autopilot and finally get some respite from needing to steer. We had a beautiful crab salad for an early dinner to celebrate arrival in Alaska at last. Caroline reached the Port of Ketchikan at 10:45 PM Monday evening and we are now making a few repairs before heading further into Southeast Alaska cruising grounds.

Brady Knippa

I have asked all the crew to add their perspective to the posts and here is a piece from Brady.

Ever wonder what it’s like to live and work on a boat? Well buckle up buckaroos, it’s story time.

Caroline has been home for 2 months now, and it has (almost) quite literally been a rollercoaster of a season. As I’ve come to learn, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to maintain this 44 ton floating home’s seaworthiness. (If you ever need someone to lay fiberglass, install cabinetry, repair marine bodywork, or make decades-old teak sparkle, hit me up). The work was tedious in the beginning, but the end goal was never meant to come easy.

As days and weeks passed in the small US/Canadian border town of Blaine, I saw a seagull fledgling take flight for the first time, witnessed the resident bald eagle’s weekly hunting routine, took countless walks along the bay as fall crept in, and made several friends along the way. Though our stay in Blaine was mildly extended due to minor mechanical failures and a to-do list that read like a Melville novel, I’m thankful for time well spent.

Following another week of work in Anacortes and an overheating issue off Lopez island in the San Juans, our departure date had arrived, albeit a month behind schedule. On October 1st at 8am, Caroline and her personnel weighed anchor for Ketchikan, Alaska.

Still with me? This is the fun part.

The will of Mother Nature bends for no man, as made abundantly clear during our passage. The first 3 days of our 700 nautical mile journey were veiled in a thick fog, cutting visibility across the water to less than 100ft. A drop watch schedule was adopted, with 4 hours on and 6 off, 24/7. Little did we know an Alaskan gale was about to slap us silly. At roughly noon on the 4th, the first swell sent us rolling. Chairs, books, dinnerware, and any other loose object had to be immediately and tightly secured as the boat rocked port to starboard at nearly 45 degrees of tilt. 40 knot gusts and 20 foot breakers pummeled the hull unrelentingly for a full day. The weather was too tumultuous for the autopilot to function properly, leaving us to hand steer in darkness through most of the night. Cooking, sleeping, and showering were entirely out of the question until the seas calmed later on the 5th, bringing us to or current position.

Today I’m happy to announce Caroline and her crew have safely completed the trip up to Alaska. The boat handled the storm like a champ, with only a few small repairs in order. The next few months are sure to be wild, but we’re all very fortunate to be here. More updates to follow!