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Old 03-05-2019, 02:23 AM   #1
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Camano 31 to Alaska?

Just curious--Would a Camano 31 with its 200hp Volvo and tiny tanks (77 gallons water and only 100 gallons fuel) be adequate for a slow trip (over several summers) from Seattle to Valdez.

More details--
We are accustomed to "roughing it" in small sailboats and small downeast work boats for weeks at a time.
We almost always putt along at 6 knots.
I'd swap out the head and its 12 gallon tank for a compost toilet.
We're used to saltwater showers and using multiple plastic water jugs for drinking and/or filtering jerry cans from streams.
We carry a small Honda generator and use an inverter and solar panels for a very spartan use of electricity.
We almost always anchor out away from marinas.
We dream of lengthy explorations of the more remote arms and inlets. But worry about distance between refueling opportunities.

Does this sort of travel in a mostly wild region demand a larger boat simply for the larger fuel capacity?

Thank you very much for your advice.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:22 AM   #2
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Just curious--Would a Camano 31 with its 200hp Volvo and tiny tanks (77 gallons water and only 100 gallons fuel) be adequate for a slow trip (over several summers) from Seattle to Valdez.

More details--
We are accustomed to "roughing it" in small sailboats and small downeast work boats for weeks at a time.
We almost always putt along at 6 knots.
I'd swap out the head and its 12 gallon tank for a compost toilet.
We're used to saltwater showers and using multiple plastic water jugs for drinking and/or filtering jerry cans from streams.
We carry a small Honda generator and use an inverter and solar panels for a very spartan use of electricity.
We almost always anchor out away from marinas.
We dream of lengthy explorations of the more remote arms and inlets. But worry about distance between refueling opportunities.

Does this sort of travel in a mostly wild region demand a larger boat simply for the larger fuel capacity?

Thank you very much for your advice.
Of course you could do it! i did it in a 34’ Bayliner back in 2003

The big thing to worry about is your open water crossing of the Gulf of Alaska

You are going to be without fuel availability during that time for 320 NM. I do not know what your boat burns at hull speed but that is the range you need.

The longest open water crossings are approx...

150NM from Elfin cove to Yakutat

210NM from Yakutat to Hinchinbrook Entrance, although you could shorten this to 170NM if you choose to stop at Icy Bay.

Unless you like composting toilets, a saltwater flush head and tank are fine up here.
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:24 AM   #3
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Your Camano is more than worthy of the trip. Many C-Dorys and Ranger Tugs make the trip and their hulls are less sea-worthy than yours.

I agree that you are fine without the composting toilet. I would spend instead on a good anchor and ground tackle. I would want AIS-B and reliable electronics. A good inventory of spare parts is always good insurance.

Take a look at slowboat.com for some good videos on provisioning and prep. You will also find their flotilla blogs useful.
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:42 AM   #4
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The boat is fine for the trip, fuel capacity not so much. There are areas of that trip where 6knots could very well be an issue. Another 50 gallons would reduce my anxiety level if it I and my loved ones were making the trip
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:05 AM   #5
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One of our TF members, Richard on Dream Catcher, went all over SE AK for many years in boats smaller than your Camano. Maybe he will chime in with some suggestions. As stated above, increase your fuel capacity as much as possible, have a good anchor with lots of rode for the deep anchorages up there, and invest in some sort of satellite communications devise to stay jjn touch. Garmin makes Inreach, a text devise, which works well in Alaska, as do Iridium sat phones. We carry both. Listen to the continuous vhf weather reports daily to plan your movements. Alaska is a great place to take your boat in the summer. Good preparation will pay big dividends.
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:46 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone! This is very reassuring. I feel a lot of confidence in the hull's ability, but am very concerned about the fuel capacity, especially with the poking around in off-the-path places that we love to do. I'll ask the yard to look at the boat and see if there are any spots where we could squeeze in an extra small tank or two. I am not comfortable with the fuel bladders on deck that I've seen used.
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:56 AM   #7
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If my math isn't wrong, at 6 knots you're out on the open Gulf for about 48 hours. How big is your crew?
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:29 PM   #8
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Maybe start the trip in increments to gauge both the boat's and crew's temperament for the journey. Suggested legs for the trial

1. Seattle to Port McNeil.
2. Port McNeil to Prince Rupert
3. Prince Rupert to Glacier Bay

Accomplish these three legs and whether to cross the Gulf will become an easier question to answer. BTW, the AK ferry is a great way to tour most water ports in AK and drive the interior as well.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:54 PM   #9
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Hi Maineman,

For sure your Camano would be fine from Puget Sound up to Glacier Bay. You'd have enough fuel at 6 knots to go pretty much wherever you wish. You'd get 4+ nmpg, right?

I have no experience heading further NW than Cross Sound. From what ksanders says, it seems you could make it across the Gulf of Alaska fuel wise. I've been reluctant to head that way because it's such a long time exposed to open ocean conditions - long stretches between safe anchorages, and lots of rolling possible.

We did 23 summers on the Inside Passage through BC and SE AK in a C-Dory 22 and a Bounty 26-footer. Wonderful cruising/scenery/fishing/critter-watching. Hard to beat. Three more summers so far in our present NT37 - I'm content not going further north.

You might investigate routes and anchorages by perusing, along with charts, cruising guides such as the "Exploring" series by Douglass. I'd be happy to discuss further if you like.
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Old 03-05-2019, 01:46 PM   #10
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That 320 NM crossing of the Gulf of Alaska might be a problem. At 8 knots our Camano got about 4 nmpg. With a 10 gallon safety cushion (and that's only 5 gal in each tank) that's only 240 NM. I never checked fuel mileage at lower speeds, but I think it is still stretching it.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:05 PM   #11
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I did the trip from Tacoma to Seward and return last ssummer and I can say there is no reason you shouldn't. Your fuel capacity would dictate a fuel stop in Yakutat, which will mean a longer course/more time in the Gulf.

I've crossed the Gulf twice directly and once via Yakutat. In all three cases we evaluated the weather very carefully and conservatively. Twice we got it right.

The westbound leg this year developed moderate swells which would have been tolerable had we not had a crosswind causing confused seas. Still not particularly hazardous, but very fatiguing, especially in the dark.
We were a crew of three, but one guy confessed his inability and we let him opt out. Autopilot was completely fuddled.

I agree with others re: sanitation. Once you pass Stuart Island, the expectation is that you'll pump overboard.

BTW: When you're calculating your endurance, remember, once you get to sheltered waters at Hinchinbrook Entrance, you are still several hours drive from fuel.

Fueling in Yakutat is "novel". Be sure to discuss it with someone who has done it.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:13 PM   #12
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You guys are amazing! Thank you all.
Any thoughts on how to best add a little extra fuel storage on a small boat like this? It seems like an extra 30 gallons might make the difference.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:28 PM   #13
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You guys are amazing! Thank you all.
Any thoughts on how to best add a little extra fuel storage on a small boat like this? It seems like an extra 30 gallons might make the difference.

Not unusual to see a half dozen yellow Jerrycans secured on deck, particularly on sailboats. But I think you are unduly concerned. Keep a very careful fuel log in your "learn the boat" phase and I think you'll find 100 gallons go farther than you think. Easy for me to say, of course, as I'm carrying 380.
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Old 03-05-2019, 09:18 PM   #14
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I did it in a 24' Bayliner Trophy in 1985, it had 92 gallons of gas in the main tank. Elfin Cove to Yakutat was skinny, because the wind came up to about 15 knots and seas to 4' on the nose. From Yakutat to Cordova I had six five gallons gas cans on the deck in addition and had no issues making it into Cordova. Average was 3 mpg on a single Volvo 280, I would admit my margins were a bit thin...

The boat will easily do it if you have enough fuel, so your limiting factor is how much fuel you estate it will take. My last trip (in the Willard), I ran Ketchikan to Cordova on 130 gallons averaging about 7 mpg with 150 gallon tank and no extra fuel. We did not stop anywhere along the way between Elfin Cove and Cordova, just motored straight through.
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:33 PM   #15
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Hello Maineman,

I have no real expertise to offer other than being a Camano enthusiast who wants to do the same trip.

Our tanks are a bit larger at about 132gallons of fuel.

I have spoken to a fellow Camano owner who says he had done Alaska so, taking him at his word, it is doable.

If and when you decide to do this and would like a “buddy boat” for all or part of the trip, please keep us in mind and get in touch.

Summer 2020 works...��⚓️
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Old 03-06-2019, 08:29 AM   #16
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Couldn't you just carry some extra fuel to reassure yourself? On my Camano, in the ER since there was no generator there was a good amount of space on the starboard aft shelf. Also the forward starboard shelf had a fair amount of space too. I could easily see one storing 10-15 gallons in total.

The lazerette in the cockpit is another perfect spot. You may be able to fit an even bigger tank back there. Maybe put a single 20 gallon tank in the center of the lazerette in front of the rudder post.
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Old 03-06-2019, 09:17 AM   #17
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Crossing the Gulf in a slow 31 foot boat can prove a daunting task. I would not encourage anyone to do it in a 6 knot boat unless they are steeply aware of the mission at hand and have the requisite skills to read weather, have immersion suits, carry a life raft and have more than 1/3 fuel on board when arriving at the next stop. Add to this having a seaworthy vessel, crew skills and maintenance knowledge for the waters being considered.

I have no idea as to how the OP and his vessel fit the above criteria. He doesn't need to stray to far from Seattle to get a feel for these waters. Whether visiting Barclay Sound, going to Port McNeil or all the way to Elfin Cove - questions are easily answered. Those are sure low to the water and big straight up windows forward on the C31.
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Old 03-06-2019, 12:40 PM   #18
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As long as your vessel is durable, the slow speed basically only requires watch standers so you can continuously motor. There are no places along the route except Yakutat that provide a good harbor. Lituya Bay is a dangerous entrance and has a bad history, currents are extreme, and even as an experienced boater I wouldn't consider it. Icy Bay can have a lot of ice, and I spent a miserable night hiding behind a larger vessel to avoid bergs the size of trucks beating off my hull all night long.

The weather patterns are usually very stable, refer to your Coast Pilot for average winds and seas. You can anticipate a current of about one knot opposing you pretty much all the way North, so running at your most efficient speeds reduces your headway. My vessel tops out at 7 knots, uses half as much fuel at 5.5, but I didn't even consider slowing from 7 knots due to loss of headway. Inside the Passage you should have no issues with fuel as long as you top off at every opportunity along the way and run at your most efficient speeds.

Many commercial vessels make this run every year to get to the fishing grounds, they will have already passed though before you are likely to transit.
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Old 03-06-2019, 04:59 PM   #19
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What about a 50 -75 gallon fuel bladder?

The only problem I would see it that you likely would have to store it on the flybridge as the Camano has a pretty small cockpit.

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Old 03-06-2019, 09:39 PM   #20
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I’m thinking that a 30’, boat at it’s hull speed and a properly sized single engine like the Camano is going to get, and I’m guessing here but I’m betting it gets 5NMPG

With a 100 gallon fuel tank it probably already has the range, and if it does not a couple of 15 gallon jugs would undoubtedly be plenty.

To cross the gulf the journey is 280NM from Yakutat to Cordova.
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