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Old 04-09-2012, 10:07 PM   #1
Miss April's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2011
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New Mexico to Alaska

We bought a 1984, 38' Taiwanese Trawler and are taking ourselves, and Gage our 6 month old son, from Seattle/Tacoma to Southeast Alaska up the Inside Passage in July. If you are interested in keeping up with our epic summer adventure, I started a blog so you can see pictures and check on our progress...

"New Mexico to Alaska, the O'Niell's epic adventure" is the title and I have begun posting entries. Yes, it is a blog (I don't like that word blog, it is too similar to blah. No, blah, blah, blah... it will be interesting and I'm posting pictures).

Check it out and save the link if you are interested in tracking our progress as we travel this summer. In the weeks before we leave I will update the blog with pictures, traveling concerns, timeline for our trip, RV description, Boat Specs, packing lists, other problems, and more...

My first entry has pictures of our boat and this is a teeny excerpt of what I wrote:

"I am not a pessimist (otherwise I would not be going on this trip let alone looking forward to it) but I want to explain why this is an epic adventure and not just a summer vacation..."

The second entry has boat info and specs...

If you have ideas , feedback, or insight for novice boaters I'd love to hear it! We will be in Seattle for the month of June and would love to meet other people in the area...

-April Evans O'Niell
(Miss April)

New Mexico to Alaska, the O'Niell's Epic Adventure

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Old 04-09-2012, 10:48 PM   #2
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Far be it from me to poke holes in your dream balloon but I think you would both be a lot happier if you dreamed of cruising the San Juan Islands for the first summer while you get to know your new boat. Alaska will still be there after you have worked all the kinks out of those 30 year old systems and got to know (and trust) your vessel's capabilities.

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Old 04-09-2012, 11:46 PM   #3
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I don't want to tell someone what they may or may not be capable of, but I have been to SE Alaska from the Puget Sound Area twice on a 22ft C-Dory and three times on our 37ft Puget Trawler. (similar to your boat) I have been boating in the PNW since the late 80's, and hold a USCG Masters license.

In my opinion, you should use the first summer to get to know your boat, and learn about our PNW waters. Starting in Tacoma, to the San Juans, then enter Canada in the Gulf Islands. In Canada, make your way north thru the Gulfs, to Desolation Sound. There is much to see and learn, and experience in safer waters is better than loosing your boat if and when you get in over your heads.

Once north of Campbell River/Desolation Sound, repair and resupply facilities become scarce. A new to you boat needs a good shakedown cruise to find and correct the faults.

The waters north of Desolation Sound become much more demanding as to seamanship. The 'dragons' or 'gateways' of the Johnstone Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound, the Dixon Entrance, and places like Clarence Strait in AK all demand skills and judgement you may not have at this time.

In Se Alaska, the winter weather cycles can start in August, bringing very strong winds.

A summer spent cruising from Tacoma to Desolation Sound can be lots of fun, and teach you what you need to know to venture further north the following summer.

Larry H
Cruising the Pacific Northwest
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:02 AM   #4
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This is a big trip at 8knts

bobofthenorth and Larry H have some good points. There is plenty to do for a whole summer between Puget Sound and Desolation Sound. While you haven't mentioned your boating experience, Leaving in July is a little late for a trawler to be heading north if you want to really see South East Alaska. Epic may not be a good thing if your not mechanically savvy and you haven't developed smart boat handling skills and a good working knowledge of navigation. Every boat is different and for this kind of trip I think you need a good understanding of the mechanical systems as well as what ever electronics you have on board. Confidence is a good quality, on a trip like going to Alaska inexperienced and over confidence is not a good thing. You really haven't stated your previous experience level, however this is a big trip that requires careful planning and good boat handling skills. Lots of us have done this trip, all kinds of boats do it, however this is not a casual lets have an adventure cause it sounds good kind of trip. This is graduate school.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:23 PM   #5
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In the year I have had Mahalo, I have replaced the charging system, bilge system, hot water system, cutlass bearings, both turbos, port exhaust pipe, the windlass, the Vhf, the radar system and about 30 other minor things. This all in 45 engine hours. Closer to home until you know her better is good advice.

The only thing noted on the survey was the VHF and the water heater, the rest I found through failure in the field.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:04 PM   #6
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I checked out your blog, looks like you've thought about some of the things people have warned you about. I don't see a follow button but I will try and remember to check for updates. My blog is if you are interested...

We have been lucky with our tawainese trawler and in our 19 months and 150ish hours since purchase we have not had to do anything major (not that we haven't done anything major, just we didn't HAVE to) so maybe you will get lucky maintenance wise. We have the same type boat as Mahalo so you just never know. Your boat certainly LOOKS well maintained and well equipped.

I'd think you'd want to spend some significant time with the boat before undertaking a voyage of that magnitude. But whatever you decide to do, good luck!

Ask your doctor about Zofran for sea sickness. It is an RX drug approved for chemotherapy induced nausea.
2003 Silverton 38c (not a trawler)
Marina Village, Alameda
San Francisco Bay Area
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:02 PM   #7
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You might consider securing a copy of the book, How to Cruise to Alaska Without Rocking the Boat Too Much by Walt Woodward. Based on their 1982 and 1983 cruises from Seattle to Alaska, Walt provides (pre GPS) step by step directions on what routes to take and what weather to consider. They were in their late 70's when they first went north and his focus is on a smooth ride.

The book is out of print but I was able to secure a copy from the internet. Best wishes on your voyage.

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alaska, blog, miss april, new mexico, trawler

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