Winter Cruising to Ketchikan AK

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Oct 31, 2007
Vessel Name
Vessel Make
Willard Nomad 30'
*** We needed to take our car over to have body work done so Chris took it over on the ferry and I took the boat over the day before.
**** I left when it was still dark ( probably shouldn't have ) and I bumped into a number of ice chunks and a big slush patch.*Caught the tide and some light at the turn in the*bay, left the ice behiend and had smooth going to the entrance. To be out in the Straight, about 6mi wide, in the middle of the winter*is almost a religeous experience .. beautiful. Soon there was a wonderful*and well developed pink sunrise to the SE. After rounding Point Tolstoi I could see over 100 miles of Clarence Strait. I wasn't insensitive to the beauty before me as I didn't get religious knowing the weather rpt was for 10-15mph in the AM and 25-30 w*snow/rain showers in the afternoon. I went down the center of the Strait so as to maximize my options. Frequently in this area the wind turns SW in the afternoon and on the east side of the channel there is a point of land ( Caamano Pt ) that has nasty rips. In only 10 mi the wind and seas started to build. It was a slow process but I could see in the distance that the*horizon was dark and not smooth. The wind stayed SE so I started to*favor the east shore. I was never threatened or emotionally uncomfortable but I was more comfortable standing,*spread eagle with my knees slightly bent ( no the Willy dos'nt pound ) working the salon floor with the rolling boat. A fish boat passed*me going the other way with her*poles out and her paravanes down* .. looked like he could have been reading a book. The seas were at 4' w 25 knot wind and soon I was off*Caamano Pt in 5' & 30k. Went through the rips rolling to almost 45 degrees but it didn't take long and soon I was in 3-4' and 20-25k all the way to Gaurd Is at the entrance to Tongass Narrows. I relaxed for a brief peroid and then the snow started. Light at first*but soon the wind went back up and the snow went wet and heavy. The Willy has Lexan windows and no wipers.*Almost instantly I could see nothing fwd, a bit to port and fairly good to stbd. There were no " under way " blips on my radar and I snaked along*by the airport and the narrowest part of the channel. By this time I was reaching out the stbd*side window wiping the snow w a sqeegie like the ones in gas stations as it*plugged the window every*minute or so. Couldn't see Ketchikan as I headed tward a bouy NW of Pennock Is. Went to the Is from the bouy mostly on GPS. Had lots of trouble with the port of Ketchikan on the radio and cell phone. Had to tie up three*times in the driving snow ( still blowing 25 ) and keep from sliping on the snow while dealing with the icy*mooring lines. Went to bed with the Wabasto humming and slept about 12hrs. It warmed up a bit the next day and Chris came w the car .. great. That night in Thomas Basin it blew 51knots ( almost 60 mph ) and boats were banging around on thier mooring lines like they were going to rip*the lines off and go with the wind. None did that I saw but over at Metlakatla the Alaska Ferry Lituya was riped from her moorings, went adrift and aground on a small*island. Has been refloated and is in Ketchikan for drydock. We had a great time the rest of our stay. We hung out in the best coffee houses and resturants, shopped a lot and sat around on the boat reading ect. The trip home ahead of the next gale was benign except hitting that log* .. about 1'dia and 12' long. We think there is a bit more vibration so need to go on the grid. Well* .. that wasn't so bad, and fun too.

Eric Henning
Willard 30 Nomad
Thorne Bay Alaska



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Great story Eric! would be really bored in Southern Cal.

That's livin'!!!
Hello Eric,

I got bored reading the WBO posts so I switched over to TrawlerForum and there you were! I read your story and enjoyed it thoroughly. Do more winter cruising so we can read about your adventures!! ( I write from my comfy office at home on Whidbey Island and*with my Willard*snug under her winter cover!!!).*I hope we can hook up some time, either up your way or when your next down south --
Fair Winds,
Richard Soto
M/V Northstar, Willard 40 widebody sedan*

*** Welcome to TF. Yea .. I get bored at WBO too as it goes dead from time to time but it's been good lately. Would be great if you could join the SE AK rondy this summer. I wonder if Packard will be in the area or perhaps in the Carribean ? This site is more fun than the WBO and the web site is better. It's a bit more loose and chummy. There are some great people here so browse the old messages ( if you have time ) and get to know them. I like it when I know my webmates enough to anticipate thier response when I post. Don't worry ..* the supprises will always be there.

Eric Henning
nomadwilly wrote:

*The seas were at 4' w 25 knot wind and soon I was off*Caamano Pt in 5' & 30k. Went through the rips rolling to almost 45 degrees but it didn't take long and soon I was in 3-4' and 20-25k all the way to Gaurd Is at the entrance to Tongass Narrows.****
Wonder what the seas were like with the recent winds.

There are no survivors so we'll never know. ha ha Actually someone said the wind last night was recorded at 67 knots midway down the bay. During the storm where it blew 87 knots at Lincoln Rock it barely blew 50 in the Bay. They are still without power on the south part of town (on the other side of the bay). I'm thinking of running the Willy around to Craig again and haul out for the winter. Got to haul in the spring anyway to work on the rudder. The gale train has stopped for now but that would be 25 hrs (min) running time. Light and variable for a few days anyway. Two thumbs up. My guess about the seas in Clarence Strait last night * * *...15' + * *...heavy on the +.
Four-foot, choppy*seas aren't unusual in San Francisco Bay,*and I've had experience with them in a 29-foot boat.* Now, fifteen feet can get very serious if they're steep, otherwise they try to make me sea sick as experienced in the Potato Patch outside the Golden Gate.* The dozen or so times I've past by Thorne Bay in cruise-ship season (on such ships),* the seas have been relatively calm.* I'm sure*the off-season,*sub-freezing temperatures add an additional dimension to the adventure.

So, are there winter occasions "up there" where it is enjoyable to go boating, or do you just hang it up?
We have had 9 metre seas off the coast in the last week or so and the forecast is for 54 knot winds tonight so we need to keep our fingers crossed that Benn's new anchor is up to the task

nomadwilly wrote:

**... *and I bumped into a number of ice chunks and a big slush patch.*
Have you thought about reinforcing your bow?* For more than one reason, I've made mine SS-clad.

For example, Norwegian Dream/Nightmare after ramming a barge and sinking several SUVs and containers.


Notice the wrinkling, apparently because the force of the collision compressed the hull's frames.


-- Edited by markpierce on Friday 15th of October 2010 05:08:26 AM
Richard I see you in your avitar,Yea * ...they can talk for a month about how to raise a mast and then no posts for 3 weeks.
Here I couldn't keep up if I wasn't retired. This forum is a lot more fun. We talk about things that wouldn't even occur to WBO. And most (at least a lot) of the guys are quite open. Many are more than willing to stick their neck out (me among them) and wait for the falling axe. Their was several characters on here that I didn't even like at first but now I know them well and an very comfortable.
I thought you had a 36 but I see you on a 40. Perhaps I should have bought the Hays boat but this 30 is soo much trouble and of course a 40 is even worse. I'm glad you liked the Ketchikan visit. I don't think I was ever able to post the "Long Way Home" story on WBO but it is here. It's called The long Way Home and I think it's on page 4 or 5 in the Voyagers thread. Jump in here Richard and if anyone bites BITE back.ha ha.
Naw the Willard bow is quite strong. Must have been an exciting ride for some. With all the electronics we have now it's hard to imagine how commercial craft could run into each other. I just read the History of Alaska Steam w many wonderful pictures. Those guys in the 40s had no GPS, radar or sounders. They had charts, their eyes and horns. The early steamers drew 10' so by the 20s all the rocks down to that depth were known. One needed to employ dead-recconning to the 10th power to ensure ones vessel was'nt where the rock was. Then newer boats drew 20-25' and they found as many rocks again. Only way to find them was to hit them and they didn't go slow. Lots of those steamers went almost as fast as the Alaska Ferries do now (18 knots). I rode those steamers when I was 6 or 7 yrs old. Lots of horn blowing in the fog and most of it was probably ranging the echos.
But in this case the collision occurred in broad daylight in the Montevideo shipping channel.* The captain, who was in his cabin at the time, was fired.
markpierce wrote:Notice the wrinkling, apparently because the force of the collision compressed the hull's frames.
That "wrinkling" is normal and caused by hydrodynamic loads on the shell plating. It was there long before the collision.

RickB wrote:

That "wrinkling" is normal*...*
Never noticed it before.* Don't see it here.

I'll try to remind myself to check out the next cruise ship I see (doing a transatlantic in November).

markpierce wrote:Never noticed it before.* Don't see it here.

*Different ship.

And please*limit the picture sizes to 640X480 so they don't ruin the formatting of the page and force us to scroll sideways to read the text.

-- Edited by RickB on Friday 15th of October 2010 03:22:25 PM


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Gee, ships get wrinkles too.***
* Now I don't feel so bad about mine.
markpierce wrote:

Gee, ships get wrinkles too.***
* Now I don't feel so bad about mine.
Take a look at a B-52 if you want to see skin "wrinkles" although these are caused for*different reasons that the plate depressions on the bow of a ship.* With regards to the ship bow photos, the lighting and light angle also plays a role in how well the plate depressions show up or don't show up.* With different lighting it's very possible the bow plates of the Dawn (?) Princess would* show the same type of*plate depressions that*the other photos show.

Marin wrote:With different lighting it's very possible the bow plates of the Dawn (?) Princess would* show the same type of*plate depressions that*the other photos show.

Take it from an expert on graphics, Marin is absolutley correct.




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Yes,Metal boats always look terrible in strong cross lighting. Fortunately strong cross lighting is not frequently in effect. Yes. Old destroyers are very "skinny dogs". Some badly made FG boats show that they are not fair either. The fairest of all boats are wood.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, that graphics expert is Marin, not me!

Here's another example of some washboarding, this time it is on a brand new very very expensive yacht from one of the world's most highly regarded builders. I have no idea how this happened and how it was ever accepted by the project manager or the owner.


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Meanwhile, back to winter cruising ...

Eric, do you still use the Webasto heater?* Are you satisfied or do you think there are better solutions?
Mark,I don't know what I should say to "better solutions". The only others I can think of is a diesel heating/cook stove or a Wallace stove. We looked at the Wallace and decided it would be weak and slow on cooking and inadequate for heat up north. The big draw for the Wallace furnace is it's quietness. Some people object to the noise of the Espar/Wabasto but we don't have a problem with it. Especially with the installation on the Willard * *'s not in the lazerette but close (in the aft hold). Maintiance wise it's been wonderful for us but if we let it sit for a month or so it needs to go through the start cycle at least twice. It's best to have it's own dedicated fuel supply directly to the fuel tank(s) or have it's own day tank. Per our experience * * ...decide what size you need/want and buy the next size up. Kinda like anchors. I think the best thing about the Wabasto is setting the thermostat just like at home in your house and sleeping all night at whatever temperature you want. We also use ours underway a lot. Don't even know it's on. Then I go out on deck and say to myself "it's cool out here * ...I must have the heater on". We also have a bus/Red Dot heater but seldom use it as it makes too much noise. Fan. In the winter (or up here late fall (like now) to mid spring) I'd prefer a diesel stove like the Dickenson. Almost ALL fish boats have them but run one in late spring up here (mid May) to mid October will run you out of the boat. I have a Sigmar (not yet installed) 10x10x30" bulkhead mounted diesel stove (17 K btu), the Wabasto and the bus heater to be used as needed. Some people like the hot water version of the Wabasto is better but we find we frequently want instant heat and forced air delivers.
Manyboats- Greetings, As a recent member after 'lurking' for looking for information on specific subjects, I had noticed your many post and that you live next door in Thorne Bay. I believe I have viewed your Willard in Ketchikan in the past.

For the past 14 years we owned a 30 foot converted tug called the "Tenacious" constructed by Monson Boat Yard on Lake Union in 1960. It has a bright yellow cabin top color, white house/hull. You may have seen it during your trips to Ketchikan. Our stall in directly behind the VFW Hall in North Bar Harbor It is wood and in wonderful condition for it's 50 years of age. However, at 75, it was time to take the plunge and go 'plastic'. Hence my intial post concerning our new/used (1978) replacement, a Marben 27 foot pocket trawler.

The main use of for both of these boats is that of a water 'Golf Cart' as I travel back and forth to Wrangell at least 6-8 times each spring/summer/fall to participate with golf.(You were aware that Wrangell has a beautiful 9 hole course, right?)

You can imagine the number of times that your voyage to Ketchikan related in the winter story is a common occurrence and duplicated with that many trips by myself past Cammano each year!!!
You most likely agree that the best traveling weather in Clarence Strait is around 4;AM, which is when I depart Ketchikan. This gives me approxmately 5 hours to slide around Meyers Chuck and into Ernest Sound where the chance of smooth water increases. Now, on the return trip I depart Wrangell around noon with the intent of making Meyers Chuck for the night and then depart the Chuck at 4AM for, hopefully a calm run past Cammano.
As I age and make this trip, as you witness, the dark line on the horizen near Cammano has me making a phone call to the wife and a turnabout for the Chuck!!! Live to challenge another day.
My next trip will be mid July for the Alaska Air Line tournment (Tickets any place they fly as prizes!!)
Maybe you can help with a challenge. What in the hell is with the tide flow in Clarance? In all the years I have boated the straits the flood and ebb seem to be in direct opposit of tide protacol. When the flood is anticipated, it is ebbing and vise-versa. Do you have a handle on this or do what I end up doing, dodging into each and every shoreline bite to avoid the tide or running mid channel with the flood that isn't suppose to be there.. What fun!

I notice that you reference Craig quite often. Had you heard of the City of Wrangell's recent development of a first class haul out? I have used it as well as the local boat yard, both are first class in service and condition.
The City is in the process of up grading to a 200 ton lift, it may be more. just to give you an idea of the scope of the operation. Yet, little guys like us are welcome.

If I can, I will go find the golf course site and add it here on another post. Okay,with an edit I will add the site:

Will keep an eagle eye open as I travel the Straits in the Thorne Bay vista.
A.M.(Al) Johnson
27 foot Marben- "Hapi"
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Every US Navy destroyer or destroyer escort I have ever seen shows the frames in exactly the same way. I always assumed that was a sign of age, and heavy usage. I think the bow area is heavily re-inforced and has a watertight bulkhead ahead of the living spaces. The aircraft carrier I was on was double hulled, but did not show the frames through the hull.
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