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Old 10-16-2016, 06:38 PM   #1
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Inside Passage of Canada Trip

We got a few requests to post this from our blog. It is a summary and lessons learned during our recent cruise up North. It is primarily intended for those that have not made a similar trip. If you have any additional info that I may not have covered, please post. Hope this isn't to long and boring.

Trip Summary and Lessons learned

We have just finished our first extended cruise that started from our homeport of Salpare Bay Marina in Portland Oregon and traveling up the Washington coast up through the inside passage of Canada as far north as Kitamat before turning around and heading south, ultimately returning to our homeport 171 days later.
For us, this was a major learning experience on traveling in a boat in the open ocean as well as inland cruising.

You can read all the books, tech manuals, instruction books, discussions on forums and picking the brains of all those that have done extended cruises before. But until you do a cruise of this distance and time you have no idea what it takes. And yet, we met so many people that do this type of cruise year after year.

So what does it take to prepare for a trip like this? Ask anyone (who have done it) and they will tell you that you can never prepare enough. We spent 10 months prepping and could have easily spent another 2-4 months or longer. From servicing virtually every system onboard, replacing a few also, to choosing and procuring the clothing, emergency equipment, spare parts, food and drink supplies, cleaning gear and many other items. The key here is, you can spend forever trying to prepare for every possible thing you might need, but until you leave your homeport and cruise, you wonít know.

We met so many really good people before, during and even after this cruise and we would like to say Thank You to them all. If your name and boat are not listed below, please let us know, because without you, this trip would not have been so enjoyable.

Jeff Merrill, our broker and good friend, jmys.com
Larry and Marcia Crass, Nordhavn 43 Hale Kai
Bill and Wendy Brown, Selene 4314, Sea Badger
Tom and Kay Teseniar , Camarge 48, Alaskan Sea-Duction,
Chris and Brigette Breuer, Chb 40, Endless Tymes
Jerry and Jenny Nelson, Selene 43 , Forever Young
Tom and Mary Ann Liebert , Ocean Alexander, Friendship II
Tom and Nita Sitterly, Ocean Alexender, Cygnus Argent
John and Darlene Topliss, Selene 57, Ocean Osprey
Mike and Debbie McNeill, Carver 40, Baquet 8
Bill and Yvonne Carver, Tollycraft 43, Donya
Jon Stewert, S/V Doghouse
Mike Dunlap, S/V Faith Ryder
Jerry and Suhwa Tompsett, S/V Calypso
Clark and Nina Wagaman, Custom S/V, Rikki Tikki Tavi





Days we traveled 171
Number of ports visited 62
Nautical Miles traveled 3,362
Gallons of Diesel fuel 1368
Fuel burn rate gallons 2.94 includes generator and heater-
Main engine hours 464
Generator hours 528
Days at Anchor 55
Days in Moorage 116
Days buddy boating 51
Total expense 33K
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:40 PM   #2
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Part 2

Publications

We used several publications in order to plan, track and gather information throughout this trip. And Iím sure that other publications are available to help cruisers gather information about places to visit. By far the Waggoner Guide was the publication that we used the most. So much so, that Tracey wants to buy a newer version for our next trip up to Alaska next year. At the very least, if youíre planning a similar trip we recommend the Waggoner Guide as the go to publication. We purchased many publications to help us and below are the most used ones;

- Waggoner Cruising Guide by Burrows Bay Associates, WaggonerGuide.com
- The Inside Passage, Route Planning Map, South Portion by Fine Edge
- Broughton Islands Cruising Guide by Peter Vassilopoulos


Navigation

Our boat has an older Raymarine chart Plotter that uses CMAP chips, a total of 6 are needed to cover the areas we cruised. These chips are expensive and are limited on storage capacity. Also, in order to update the chips for newer charts it can get pricey. Before we left Portland we purchased 2 additional chips and at $200 bucks apiece, we needed to check out an alternative. After a bit of research, we loaded up Navionics on an IPAD and for $50 bucks a year you have a very nice chart program. This became our primary navigation and all you need is an IPAD that has built in GPS and it will track your boat. If choose to go this route, get an IPAD with as much memory as possible, you can store more charts without internet access. We did purchase a patch cord from apple that allowed us to view Navionics on a 20 inch monitor. Word of caution here, donít mount the monitor anywhere near your auto pilot, Magnetic compass or any other onboard system that is sensitive to magnetic disturbance. We are now looking for a new monitor and hope to find one that doesnít cause a magnetic field.


Trash

This is one of those things people donít talk a lot about. If you donít modify your trash behaviors, your boat will soon turn into a small landfill. We thought we had prepared pretty well for this. Like removing the excess packaging before you leave a major port and labeling them, and donít forget to date them. We use a lot of plastic storage containers to store items as well as reduce bulk. When you travel to isolated places be prepared to not be able to drop off trash. Very few places that we traveled to were able to handle trash. Most would accept recyclables with stipulations. Most wont take crushed aluminum cans, so if room is available donít smash the cans. Glass bottles are accepted at most places, but few would accept cardboard. We dumped all food and organic waste over the side, but usually only when in high traffic areas. Some food waste will float for a bit and dumping in a small cove with several other boaters around is not cool. An enterprising guy at Refuge Bay (Dave) will take care of your trash for a fee. A small kitchen bag will cost between 6-8 bucks weight being the deciding factor. Bottom line, reduce as much as possible prior to leaving the dock. Hint, remove the beer, soda and other packaged liquid from the cardboard boxes and store elsewhere.
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:41 PM   #3
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Part 3

Docking

Canada provides many different types of docking. For the most part we had no problem finding moorage but larger boats can expect some problems getting a spot . When possible, we sent an email in advance of arrival to reserve a spot.

The BC government provides government docks throughout the BC waterways. These docks are primarily established for the commercial fishermen, but we found that as long as your wiling to raft you can use the docks. The fees for using them range from free to 75 cents a foot. Some do have power for an additional fee and most provide water, location dictates potable or non-potable water. Below are a few of our favorites;
- Hartley Bay / Gigat First Nation
- Okeover Government Wharf
- Shoal Bay
- Chatter Box Falls / Princess Louisa Society

We stayed at several marinas that are run by the local city or municipalities. These too are primarily for the commercial fisherman, but cruisers are more than welcome to use them. Just be prepared for tight docking as most are crowded, especially during those times when commercial fishing is closed. Docking fees range from .50-1.00 per foot and most have power and water. Below are a few we stayed at;
- False Creek, Grandville Island
- Madeira Park

Private marinas are in abundance and they range from very basic to full services that include fuel, store and restaurants. Rates for these marinas are roughly a dollar per foot and also charge between 30-50 dollars a night for 30 amp service. Power for the most part, is provided by generators. We suspect that the power charge is how they cover the operating expense for the year. Their busy season is only a few months from June through September. Cruisers are their main income and we encourage everyone to support them. Many also have trails close by, just in case you want to get a bit of exercise. Below are some of our favorites;
- Port McNeill (Steveís)
- Sullivan Bay
- Port Harvey
- Lagoon Cove
- Blind Channel
- Echo Bay
- Gorge Harbor
- Secret Cove
- Snug Cove
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:43 PM   #4
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Part 4

Anchorages

Without a doubt, some of the best places to anchor are within the inside passage of British Colombia. We found tons of coves, out of the way anchorages and protective bays to drop the hook. For the most part, youíll find thousands of places that will provide a unique and pleasurable place to drop the hook. We found that for most good anchorage, usually a 3-4 rode set was more than adequate. For the newbies, that equates to the following. If you set your anchor in 25 feet of water at high tide, put out 100 feet of rode at water level. That is a 4 times rode set. Remember, your boat could have a pulpit that is 6 or more feet above the water level. Ours is almost 9 feet. Its all about the amount of rode that is in the water. We also used our snubber line when in doubt, and we encourage you to think likewise. If you want to see what we use for a snubber line, see our previous posts. Several times we rafted with fellow boaters where we were the primary anchor point, and a few times we even stern tied. This is especially useful when the bottom drops off quickly and the stern line will keep your anchor set by preventing your boat from swinging. We really enjoyed our time at anchor and encourage all to try spending a bit more time at anchor. You will enjoy the view and might even see a bit of the wildlife, we did! Below are a few of our favorite anchorages;


Prideaux Harbor / Desolation Sound
Tenedos Bay / Desolation Sound
Octopus Islands / Desolation Sound
Turnbull Cove / North Broughton
Kwatsi Bay / North Broughton
Khutze Inlet / Northern British Columbia
Bottleneck Inlet / Northern British Columbia

Internet

This is one item that we should have been better prepared for. Internet access along the BC coast is iffy at best. If you remain very close to the mainland or Vancouver island, your cell phone/ hotspot will provide coverage to an extent. We purchased a portable hotspot from Telus and as long as we were close to cell towers, we had internet coverage. Get a few miles away, and you will experience what life off the grid is all about. It took some getting use to the lack of cell coverage, but it was also rather enjoyable being off the grid. Several times we went days, or even a week or two with no cell coverage or Internet access. This made weather forecast a bit difficult, not to mention updates of the blog. Our cell phone provider was ATT and their Fees for international coverage is rather stupid. We are also looking into a cell phone booster, we already have a wifi booster.
We were rather disappointed by the marinas that advertised free Wi-Fi, as a general rule, the internet service was at best terrible. For planning purposes, plan on no Internet coverage, If you get it, feel privileged. Also, if you are used to High Speed internet service at home, your gonna be lost with any service you get, just saying.


Cell Phones

As with the Internet, cell phones are an item we were not prepared for. As a general rule, we shut our phones off when we crossed into Canadian waters. Our provider was ATT and their international plan is terrible and expensive. So we are looking into Verizon as a provider for next year, as in discussing coverage and plans with other boater that had Verizon seemed like the best choice.


Stores and Supplies

For the most part, once you travel north of the Georgia Strait, large towns or communities are non existing. Two cities that are on the north end of Vancouver Island are Port McNeill and Port Hardy and they are your last chance for major shopping. Once you head north of Vancouver Island around Cape Caution the population thins out considerable. One exception is Shearwater/ New Bella Bella where you will find small groceries and a chandlery. This is your last chance before Prince Rupert unless you include Kitimaat. Again, the key here is preparation. If we didnít have the Freezer, food storage would have been tough. We did bring the Food Saver and used it extensively. The marinas that have small stores have to ship the supplies in and that can be costly. Also, the locals in these areas know when the shipments are coming in, so fresh produce and perishables go fast. One last note, Alcohol is very expensive in Canada. In some places it is 2-3 times higher than even Washington State. Just be prepared for a bit of sticker shock.
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:45 PM   #5
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Part 5

Customs

Our experience with Canadian customs was a pleasant one. We checked in via phone at Bedwell on South Pender Island. Be honest and upfront with them and you shouldnít have any problems. We found that we could bring in more booze and Cigars than the established guide states. Because we were going to be in country for several months we think the customs is a bit more relaxed. We were granted a 180 day permit and off we went. If you have the time you may want to look into a Nexus Pass, we plan to check into this, but to be honest we are in no rush when we travel so a few more minutes is no big deal.
When you return back into the States you will need to clear customs and show them your cruising permit. This was something we forgot to get on the way up but the Customs agent at Friday Harbor was more than willing to assist us in the process of acquiring one, just another fee.


In Closing

We are now, back in Las Vegas where we will spend the winter. The to do list is rather lengthy, with both personal and boat related projects. We are heading North next April for SE Alaska and our experience in Canada this year will help to make our trip to Alaska a much more enjoyable trip next year.
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:49 PM   #6
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Please join us on MV Pairadice

In case you want to see more of our travels up North heres the link
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:59 PM   #7
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John

Great post - I'll b returning many times to re-read sections
Sounds like a cruise of a lifetime
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:21 PM   #8
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Don,

Thanks for the kind words, the Admiral just said "I'm already missing the boat", that's a good thing this soon.
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:41 PM   #9
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In part five you mention a cruising permit. Is that something new?
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:18 PM   #10
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For a newbie on the passage you've done well indeed.
Planning is good. My wife taught me that.

I see you didn't shun towns and anchor out all the time. Many IMO get hung up on anchoring out and miss much of the flavor of the area. The towns and industrial activities are very interesting and as always the people are worth watching and even better yet conversing with. Much to learn.

Fortunately there are more towns, villages and small cities in SE Alaska. Goods and services are more readily available also. Off the cuff I'd say fewer anchorages and more varied geography. Moorage in port will be even harder to find but fuel more available. Cities and towns have much more to offer the tourist and most all out of state boaters are tourists whether they think so or not. You cannot blend in as a local .. don't even try. Take advantage of guided side trips like up the Stikine River on a jet boat or hiking into the center of a mountian in Juneau. Few have time but leaving your boat in Rupert and taking the BC ferry out to Queen Charlotte City and rent a car. You can leave your boat at the Queen Charlotte Rowing and Yacht Club in Rupert .. Fairly pricey moorage though.

Your choice to cruise BC first was a good one and few do it. Good choice. Now you have a good idea how far it is "up north".

Have a good time next year.
PS I'd get the best cruise guide ...
Exploring Southesat Alaska
Dixon Entrance to Skagway
By Don Douglass & Reanne Hemingway-Douglass
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:33 PM   #11
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In part five you mention a cruising permit. Is that something new?
We had heard of it, but not until we returned back in Wash. while checking in at customs. The customs agent will ask for your cruising permit number, if you don't have one, you fill out a form and pay it.
Just another means to generate income. Not real sure if it's a federal thing or just a State thing. As I recall it was around $32.00.
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:39 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=Nomad Willy;489321

Your choice to cruise BC first was a good one and few do it. Good choice. Now you have a good idea how far it is "up north".

Have a good time next year.
PS I'd get the best cruise guide ...
Exploring Southesat Alaska
Dixon Entrance to Skagway
By Don Douglass & Reanne Hemingway-Douglass[/QUOTE]

Eric, thanks for the tip on the guide, the Admiral can't have too many guide books.
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:10 AM   #13
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Kitimat's MKBay Marina has a new main float from the ramp to where you were docked, and the new breakwater hasn't broken apart yet
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:52 AM   #14
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We had heard of it, but not until we returned back in Wash. while checking in at customs. The customs agent will ask for your cruising permit number, if you don't have one, you fill out a form and pay it.
Just another means to generate income. Not real sure if it's a federal thing or just a State thing. As I recall it was around $32.00.

I think you are referring to the annual US Customs & Border Patrol decals.

"Decals are stickers that are placed on all private aircraft and private vessels (30 feet or more in length) as proof that the User Fee for entry into the U.S. has been paid for the calendar year. Any arriving vessel or aircraft that does not have an annual decal will be required to pay the non-refundable User Fee and complete an application, which will be forwarded to the processing center. The application will be processed, and a decal will be mailed from the processing center. A decal expires on December 31st of its issue year. A new decal is issued whenever the decal is renewed." From CBP DTOPS web site.
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:55 AM   #15
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Hi John.

Very nice summary of a great adventure! Thanks.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:57 AM   #16
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Kitimat's MKBay Marina has a new main float from the ramp to where you were docked, and the new breakwater hasn't broken apart yet
Murray, Thanks for the update on your Marina, glad to hear they did that upgrade, as the transit dock was a pretty rolly one when we were there.

One thing I forgot to add on the post;

TF members met 7

Alcohol consumption while telling lies with them, let's just say this was a major part of the expense total.
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Old 10-17-2016, 11:01 AM   #17
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Jay,

Thanks for the info, pretty sure that's the sticker I was talking about. We are still waiting for it as a glitch in the US Mail system caused a return to sender. Oh well, hopefully we will have it in time to renew for next year.

Quote:
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I think you are referring to the annual US Customs & Border Patrol decals.

"Decals are stickers that are placed on all private aircraft and private vessels (30 feet or more in length) as proof that the User Fee for entry into the U.S. has been paid for the calendar year. Any arriving vessel or aircraft that does not have an annual decal will be required to pay the non-refundable User Fee and complete an application, which will be forwarded to the processing center. The application will be processed, and a decal will be mailed from the processing center. A decal expires on December 31st of its issue year. A new decal is issued whenever the decal is renewed." From CBP DTOPS web site.
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Old 10-17-2016, 11:16 AM   #18
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I think you are referring to the annual US Customs & Border Patrol decals.

"Decals are stickers that are placed on all private aircraft and private vessels (30 feet or more in length) as proof that the User Fee for entry into the U.S. has been paid for the calendar year. Any arriving vessel or aircraft that does not have an annual decal will be required to pay the non-refundable User Fee and complete an application, which will be forwarded to the processing center. The application will be processed, and a decal will be mailed from the processing center. A decal expires on December 31st of its issue year. A new decal is issued whenever the decal is renewed." From CBP DTOPS web site.
They changed things up this year and got rid of the decal. All boats regardless of length now need a cruising permit that is good for 1 year. The silly part is your previous permit needs to have been expired for at least 2 weeks before you can get a new one.

Crusty Chief , I'm surprised you needed to get one.I thought the permits were only for foreign vessels.
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:40 PM   #19
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One small correction....

The "government" wharves are not provincial. At one time they were all Federal, so moorage rates in Prince Rupert and Halifax were the same. All were built the same and immaculately maintained. Today it's more of a mishmash as the Federal government has divested as many of these docks as they can, others they have, or have plans to, tear down. So local towns and regional districts have ended up with caretaking them. Thus moorage rates differ, as does the level of care.

http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sch-ppb/home-accueil-eng.htm
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:19 PM   #20
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Great Post John. Funny how my distance (3299) and fuel usage (1998) are close to yours and you only have one engine. The cruising pass that is discussed was $27.50 through U.S. Boarder Patrol and online. We found out about it about a month before we left.


Yeah we spent some bucks on drinks!!!$60 CD for a bottle of cheap scotch that would cost me $24 USD. Smokes too. Gotta pay for that Canadian health care.


I would add that you will be surprised how much of your garbage is "burnable." We would go to shore and below the high tide line burn that part of the trash. I agree that throwing floatables like citrus peelings etc best done in a main channel. Then again you can throw the pesky lemons and limes overboard while you are sitting at customs... yep don't ask.

Great post. We will have fun in Alaska next year.
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