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Old 01-10-2022, 09:53 PM   #1
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Pipe Dreamer?

Hello! Newbie in all senses of the word. I'm a WA native and explorer, but historically not on water. My explorations (and my husband's) have taken us many places (living in Africa, hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, overlanding in our vanagon and now wedge camper/Tacoma throughout the beautiful Pacific NW, small boat cruise (The Boat Company) in SE Alaska and many others. We are doing the Boat Company again in 2023. We were in Kodiak this last summer, and I just LOVED being on the water and being in AK.

We are in our early 50s and thinking about the next chapter and I have these visions of boating the Inner Passage. I've talked about it for several years now - cost, lack of knowledge of being on the water have been barriers, but I think it just might be time for action to see if this pipe dream holds up. My next step is taking a 3 day on-the-water power boat class (Anacortes or Bellingham). Anybody else gone from newbie to AK in 5-10 years? It seems that there is so much to explore locally out of Seattle (home). Anyway, here I am!
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Old 01-10-2022, 10:11 PM   #2
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I don't think it's a pipe dream.

By giving yourselves 5 to 10 years to get up to speed, you should have no problem reaching Alaska.

Many have done what you are deaming.

Taking "On the water courses" is a good start.

Chartering or Time Share boating is also something to consider.

But the best way is to buy a boat and start taking small trips. Start with a small boat if your budget is small. Too many people in your situation delay purchasing a boat because they have the perfect boat selected but it is out of their price range. Some end up buying the perfect boat eventually but some unfortunately never do.

Until you buy that first boat to learn on, you will not know what you want or not want in the perfect boat. You can research all you want but, boating is the best way to learn what is important or desirable to you.

I've had clients buy their first large boat and after taking on the water training and cruising for a while, decide boating is not for them. Some of these clients purchased new 40 to 50 foot boats and sold them in a short time, at a loss.

Join a yacht club if you don't have any boating friends. Experienced boaters are a good source for knowledge and maybe a boat ride.

Hire a buyers consultant.
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Old 01-10-2022, 10:14 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard. Good luck in pursuing your dream, it certainly can be done.
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Old 01-10-2022, 10:41 PM   #4
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Pipe Dreamer?
Nope!
You will find there are quite a few of us who think like that. Chase that dream, mate!
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Old 01-10-2022, 11:27 PM   #5
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You can do it!

I made my first trip up the inside passage in my own boat with only 3 years of experience in any size boat.
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Old 01-10-2022, 11:36 PM   #6
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Welcome, and I second, third, or fourth the encouragement above. You seem to have your head screwed on right with the approach you propose.
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Old 01-11-2022, 12:10 AM   #7
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Thank you all for the warm welcome and for the advice! One step at a time. I'm excited to take the weekend course and to see how it goes. And it's so fun to dream about being out in the natural marine world. I look forward to learning from you all.
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Old 01-11-2022, 06:13 AM   #8
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Often reality begins with a pipe dream.
Encourage your pipe dream to grow, research and study.
Get the charts and guides.
Plot your projected course, ports of call, refueling and places to restock your onboard stores.
See what the weather, sea state etc has been, historically, during the time you think you will be on the water. Talk to those who have made the voyage. Listen to their advice, take lots of notes. Ask them about their boat, size, brand, how it is/was equipped.
Once you have settled on and purchased a boat.... continue with your studies, join a couple of users' groups. Start with short trips .... learn how your boat behaves.
Travel with another boat..... or maybe a group of boats.
You can do it safely or like some folks load the boat with fuel, stores and few spare parts, minimal electronic, plan as you go..... a 'road trip' on the water.
I and others will discourage you from doing this.

Hey, when taking with folks who made the trip a few times, look at their paper charts..... use their charts to make notes on your own paper charts. Read their log too.

On a boat, dont over plan, scheduling is for car and RV folks. The two variables which you cannot command is the weather and sea state.

Good luck and encourage your pipe dream.
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Old 01-11-2022, 06:25 AM   #9
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There are many small boats that are cheap and could teach you 95% of what you need to go cruising in a larger , perhaps more comfortable boat.

A small 25-30 ft Bayliner or other entry level IO (inboard-outboard) can be had for $2500 to $5000 ,.

Gas engine is cheap to fix , IO can run into most beaches , and everything needed to cruise , Fresh water , stove , anchors etc should be on board.

Get your feet wet with one small step.


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Old 01-11-2022, 09:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huruta View Post
Hello! Newbie in all senses of the word. I'm a WA native and explorer, but historically not on water. My explorations (and my husband's) have taken us many places (living in Africa, hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, overlanding in our vanagon and now wedge camper/Tacoma throughout the beautiful Pacific NW, small boat cruise (The Boat Company) in SE Alaska and many others. We are doing the Boat Company again in 2023. We were in Kodiak this last summer, and I just LOVED being on the water and being in AK.

We are in our early 50s and thinking about the next chapter and I have these visions of boating the Inner Passage. I've talked about it for several years now - cost, lack of knowledge of being on the water have been barriers, but I think it just might be time for action to see if this pipe dream holds up. My next step is taking a 3 day on-the-water power boat class (Anacortes or Bellingham). Anybody else gone from newbie to AK in 5-10 years? It seems that there is so much to explore locally out of Seattle (home). Anyway, here I am!

We were in a similar situation about 4 years ago, although a bit older than you. Here's what we did:

2018: 3 day class
2019: 1 week charter out of Anacortes
2020: Bought our boat and spent the summer cruising Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands
2021: Inside passage and cruised South East Alaska all summer.



You sound like you are on the right track. I recommend reading the Douglas Cruising Guides for B.C and Alaska, as well as the Waggoner's Guide.



https://www.waggonerguidebooks.com/


https://www.waggonerguidebooks.com/exploringseries.html


There are many helpful YouTube videos on cruising the area, two of the best are "Cruising Sea Venture" and Tony Fleming's videos.



Good luck!
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:02 AM   #11
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. Ms.h. You've mentioned twice that you were going to take a 3 day course. Your hubby should take the course, as well, unless I am misinterpreting your posts...Just sayin'.
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Old 01-11-2022, 11:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
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My next step is taking a 3 day on-the-water power boat class (Anacortes or Bellingham).
That puts you ahead of 90% of the people who have successfully transited from Seattle to Alaska. Some might discount the boating class as "book learning," but a day in a class might equate to a year of boat ownership. If you feel that you are still a couple years shy of competence, there are convoys that you can join and travel with those who have many years of experience. Between the class and a group voyage, you could be ready this summer. It is often the boat that isn't ready.
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Old 01-11-2022, 12:16 PM   #13
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We started with a C-Dory 22 Cruiser in 1991. First cruises on Lake Powell. San Juan and Gulf Islands in 1993. West coast Vancouver Island 1994. SE Alaska 1996. BC and SE AK ever since. We built our skill set step by step - you can too.

You might find some useful info for your situation in my book "Cruising in a Big Way". Available on self-publishing site lulu.com, in paperback and also PDF. Paperback on Amazon. A sizable preview available on both.
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Old 01-11-2022, 12:27 PM   #14
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Thanks to you all who've responded - some really great suggestions here. Yes, it's going to start with me taking a class without husband. This is intentional and he's onboard with a taking a class later on. I often just defer to him and I really want to develop my own skills and confidence. Good to hear the value of taking a class. The boat and the extended time we would need may require us to wait a few years to get to Alaska but there's plenty to explore in the Puget Sound with shorter trips. We are blocks from the Shilshole Marina in Seattle and I run by there 3 days a week. It's time to engage with folks there and start my learning!
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Old 01-11-2022, 12:54 PM   #15
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A few years ago my old friend from grad school AlaskaProf recommended I read "Alaska Blues" by Joe Upton about the good old days of commercial fishing in Alaska (1970's, with subsequent editions). I didn't move to Alaska until college in '82 so that was slightly before my time, but not much. As a former Alaskan I loved the book, made me homesick for the most spectacular place on earth, but now that I'm decades older and have a big 'ol' boat myself and I fret every little detail on a modern boat (pure sine wave inverter for the new fridge!) -- the last time I read that book I came away so impressed with how gutsy and bold they were with their surprisingly small boats. Giant storms and parts breaking off and windows blowing out and whacking the diesel to get it started and using hatchets to knock ice off the outriggers, but every season they'd make the trip back and forth like they were on the swan pond in Central Park. We're a bunch of pansies! Go for it!
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Old 01-11-2022, 01:01 PM   #16
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And here are a few more books to whet your appetite:


Alaska James Michener

Alaska Blues, and others (travel and salmon fishing SE Alaska) Joe Upton

As the Sailor Loves the Sea (commercial salmon trolling SE Alaska) B Hadman

The Fisher Queen (salmon trolling on the BC coast) Sylvia Taylor

Fishing with John (salmon trolling on the BC coast) Edith Iglauer

Spilsbury's Coast (making a living on the BC coast) H White & Jim Spilsbury

Heart of the Raincoast (life on the BC Coast) A Morton & B Proctor

In the Company of Whales Alexandra Morton

The Curve of Time (early small boat cruising the BC coast) M.W. Blanchet

Where the Sea Breaks its Back (discovery of Alaska by Bering and Stellar) Corey Ford

Working on the Edge, & others (King Crab fishing in the Bering Sea) Spike Walker

Travels in Alaska John Muir

Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson

Sitka (historically-based Alaska adventure) Louis LíAmour

The Blue Bear Lynn Schooler
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Old 01-11-2022, 03:49 PM   #17
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huruta, my wife and I would be happy to discuss boats, cruising, and answer any questions you have. If interested send me a PM. We are also in the Seattle area and our boat is in South Lake Washington.
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Old 01-17-2022, 02:22 PM   #18
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IMHO, boating in the San Juans and the Gulf islands is much more challenging than further north because of the swarms of boaters, ferries and complex currents. The actual passage to Alaska is quite easy. Only two open water passages and they are easy if you listen to the weather forecast. Remember, people make this trip in kayaks, rowboats and even engineless sailboats.

Navigation is easy because of electronic charting, radar and AIS. Other than these items keep the boat as simple as possible to avoid breakdowns. Knowing how to maintain and service the onboard infrastructure is VERY important. North of Pt. Hardy and South of Ketchikan you are on your own.

The first time I made this trip (Seattle to Glacier Bay in 1992) I only had inland experience and had no problems whatsoever. This was before all the modern electronics.

Douglas book is sufficient to get you up and back with few problems. Just do it before life gets in the way.
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Old 01-17-2022, 02:50 PM   #19
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We are in our early 50s and thinking about the next chapter and I have these visions of boating the Inner Passage. I've talked about it for several years now - cost, lack of knowledge of being on the water have been barriers, but I think it just might be time for action to see if this pipe dream holds up. My next step is taking a 3 day on-the-water power boat class (Anacortes or Bellingham). Anybody else gone from newbie to AK in 5-10 years? It seems that there is so much to explore locally out of Seattle (home). Anyway, here I am!

Sent you a PM
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Old 01-17-2022, 03:23 PM   #20
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Your local Skagit Valley Squadrin if Americas Biating Ckub (US Power Squadrons) offer great courses in all things boating. Most Squadrons are now doing it on line, so if the course isn’t offered locally, you can probably find it elsewhere. On The Water courses are also offered. Friday Harbor offers a lot https://ABCSJI.org.
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