Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dixon Entrance to Grenville Channel

Early September
We had a one-day weather window to make the Dixon Entrance crossing, just ahead of another major storm. Leave today or wait in port or nearby at anchor for another 5 or 6 days. Easy decision there; cast off just before dawn and motor south. The channel, Tongass Narrows, was pretty quiet at 05:15 with just a few fishermen heading out and two huge cruise ships heading in.

The Dixon Entrance is a body of water, open to the Pacific on the west, that is one of the few large, exposed crossings along the Inside Passage. There is no where to hide if the weather turns ugly, so mariners selects their crossing time carefully. I was aware that the U.S./Canadian border runs through this area, but didn't know that the exact boundary location is still disputed... according to a Wikipedia entry.

Stats: Water temperature 54 F. Air temperature 53 F. Low clouds or was it high fog?
We found 4 to 6 foot swells right away between Duke Island and Cape Fox. These dropped to 3 to 4 footers, then smoothed out to near calm by the time we finished the crossing and turned in to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. In record time (for us) it took a mere 12 minutes to clear Canadian Customs, receive our new cruising permit number, untie the lines and set out again in the sunshine! high cloud, blue sky, warm sunshine!

Prince Rupert is an incredibly busy transportation hub, boasting a terminus for the Trans-Canada Highway and for rail lines from the Canadian interior, a ferry dock, container dock and grain and coal shipping terminals. 

Prince Rupert's colorful container dock.
The cranes are incredibly fast at loading and unloading containers.
Prince Rupert Grain Terminal
The red waterline will hardly show when this ship is fully loaded.
With 5 hours of daylight left, calm water and another storm heading our way, we chose to keep moving. I said goodbye to thoughts of dinner in Cow Bay and we headed south into the Grenville Channel. A flotilla of fishing boats, mostly seiners heading home to U.S. waters, kept us company along the way. They continued on as we turned into Kumealon Inlet, a familiar and comfortable anchorage at the end of a very long day.

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