Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Fairweather to Baranof Island

Today we board the 235 foot high speed catamaran, Fairweather, leaving Juneau's Auke Bay for the four hour cruise to Baranof Island on the outer coast of Alaska's Inside Passage.

This ship is smaller than the other ferries we have been on, holding only 35 large cars and up to 5 vans.

                               But it still has the same amenities as all the others.

                               Including authentic native pieces like this Shaman's mask,

                                    Tlingit [Pronounced Klink-it] carvings,

                                              and these Ceremonial Masks.

Judy, ever so much the navigator, is helping these land lubbers read the chart that shows our course throughout the trip.

We are leaving Auke Bay on a compass reading of 308 degrees, will make a sharp right turn around Coghlan Island in 7 minutes and 18 seconds, to arrive at our destination in three hours, thirty-five minutes and twenty-two seconds. This thing keeps scrolling along and updating itself as we travel.

We have a nice window table to work on our blog and watch the navigation chart as we go. You may notice that there are few other travelers as most are out of Alaska by now and larger RV's are somewhat hard to fit on this boat.

The ship has a nice, quiet study area. One needs to realize that these ferries are the link between many coastal cities that have no road to them. Students ride the ferry between schools for activities. Can you imagine Friday night football?

                                                         The movie area

The covered back deck, heated on some ferries. On longer trips and over-nighters you can pitch your tent here and sleep on this deck right under the stars.

I always like the views from here. We see whales, sea lions and many birds but this fast boat makes it hard to get pictures.

This trip gives continuous views of island-studded waters and ancient spruce and hemlock forests reaching to the water's edge.

                    We have just passed the slower Malaspina, off in the distance.

                                        We pass a pod of Orca Whales.

And pass the light house marking the Sergius Narrows, a tight waterway that must be navigated at slack tide due to the otherwise very strong currents. Look carefully and you will see an obstruction in the water.

                                      We slow down for the rest of the trip.

            In two minutes and thirty seconds we will make the left turn ahead-

                                  --just before we reach those markers-

                                 --so we don't make the same mistake that guy did.

                      Seeing this commercial crabbing boat tells us we are close to port-

                           -and soon we see the lighthouse leading us to Sitka-

                        -the only city in Southeast Alaska that actually fronts the Pacific Ocean.

We tie up at the same place where the Russians landed in 1799.

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