As with childbirth, all significant cruising expeditions I’ve undertaken involved a substantial amount of pain at the outset. Our Alaska cruise has followed that pattern true to course. The extended nature of this cruise, planned to include the exploration of approximately 2000 nautical miles of the Inside Passage, required extensive preparations and planning. While these efforts began many months ago, and the pace of effort accelerated as departure date loomed, the day before departure still left many tasks incomplete. In addition to completing preparations for sustaining all aspects of life for nearly 3 months aboard a very compact 26 foot sailboat, the house had to be mothballed, and numerous related details handled, most at the last minute.
Probably the most painful last minute project involved rebuilding the boat trailer brakes. New calipers and master cylinder needed to be installed. Delays in the delivery of parts (I had ordered them in plenty of time, honest) resulted in this project being tackled, under the direction of my brother, a mere 2 days before departure. After numerous frustrations, we finally completed the job. We were a little worried about one of the disks, which seemed a little out of true, but thought they would be ok. Time shifts to the night before leaving, when it’s time to drive down to Safeway to fill the boat’s gas tanks and fuel the truck. All goes well, until I attempt to back up my steep lower driveway. The brakes lock up in reverse. The mechanism designed to prevent this has somehow failed. In addition, while driving around a bit, it seems that they’re rubbing more than they should, and they’re heating up. It’s too late to fix the problem without delaying departure by several days. Unacceptable option. I resolve to remove them next morning and run up to Vancouver without brakes. I’m not too worried about this, since I drove most of the way around the country last year with the boat and trailer, with brakes in the same shape. My heavy duty diesel truck handles the boat fine.
Early next morning my son and I go out to remove the brakes. It’s raining. Great start to our Alaska cruise, laying under the boat trailer, in the street in front of the house, removing brake calipers in the rain. Task completed, we head out around 9:30 am. So much for my hoped for early departure.
The drive into Canada went fine. Son Ken rode along with us, to perform the valued service of driving the truck and empty boat trailer back to Leavenworth, there to await another drive by dear friends Peter and Mary Ann Ringsrud, this time to Prince Rupert at the end of August, to rendezvous with us there. At the border crossing, the Canadian official questioning us asked the usual questions, and was rather surprised to learn we were going to be out for 80 days. He mistakenly thought son Ken was accompanying us for that duration, and rather surprisingly asked him what he did for a living. He figured Ken must be independently wealthy if he were out that long. We left him with that impression.
It rained most of the way up, and rained at the marina while we set the boat up. It finally eased off while we slipped her into the water. Ken began his drive back to Leavenworth around 5 pm, and we continued sorting out our mountain of gear, trying to get it all stowed on board.
It is in the nature of cruising that problems arise which must be solved. It is also in the nature of cruising that in the first few hours after getting into the water, you discover key items of equipment and gear that, somehow, inadvertently got left behind. In the case of our Alaska cruise, due in large part to the hectic departure, our list quickly grew. Problem number 1: Can’t locate the Waggoner’s Cruising Guide. Solution: plan to do without, since we have a couple of other similar books. Possibly purchase a replacement along the way, before cruising out of the area covered. Problem number 2 (and much more serious): can’t locate the AC power cord for the lap top computer. Serious because electronic log can’t be written for very long, also, electronic charts in cd form quickly become unusable. Lastly and most importantly, the collection of dvd movies we brought along will have to go unwatched unless a solution can be found. Solution: call son Ken, our saviour. He quickly fashions a fix. He calls a friend in Wenatchee who goes over to the house, enters with the key handily hidden under the door mat, and goes straight to the location of the power cord. Unexpected bonus, he also locates the Waggoners Guide, and will Fed Ex both items to the Port McNeil Harbor, which is 5 days ahead of us. With any luck, we’ll be back in business with both items. Problem number 3: I can’t find the charging cord for my electric razor (I seem to have a problem with electric cords. Solution, I’ll let the beard grow. After all, we are on the way to Alaska. Problem number 4: we left the extra blanket to go over the sleeping bag behind. Solution: snuggle all the closer with my co captain.