Illywhacker - Alaska to Canada Passage Data


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We left Cordova, Alaska in June 2002 and crossed the Gulf of Alaska, making entry to the Inside Passage at Elfin Cove. It was a very pleasant trip via the Passage to British Columbia, mainly motoring in protected waters with infinite secluded anchorages, good fishing and many new friends. Click on any of the places below;

Gulf of Alaska,

Inside Passage - Alaska,

Inside Passage - Canada

The Gulf of Alaska on a bad day




Notes Photographic Glimpses



60 33N, 145 46W

After 2 years "a part of the family" we sadly took our last view of Cordova. With the help of the local fishermen we decided to try a route out of Prince William Sound via the flats - an extension of the Copper River Delta. This took us around Cape St. Elias and past end of Kayak Island rather than the "deep water" route south of Hinchinbrook Island, a saving of 60nm. We bumped the sand bottom only once and made the open sea around 9pm, still in daylight. Our first night at sea in 2 years AND in the infamous Gulf of Alaska, we were a little scared but it turned out that we hadn't forgotten how to make illywhacker get up and go.

Gulf of Alaska


Icy Bay

59 55N, 141 22W



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Two nights at sea was enough so we entered Icy Bay, aware of a coming front which we were anxious to avoid. We anchored behind some log booms only to find a timber ship being loaded in the bay and our protective logs had been moved during the night. The storm didn't eventuate next day so we attempted to motor up the bay but there was too much floating ice in bay to explore very far. We found a route behind a sandbank to a protected anchorage and spent a few days listening to the wind which came in that night, howling overhead.



59 33N, 139 44W

A great little Indian village and we were able to tie alongside the rustic dock. The first of the king salmon were coming in and the town was excited. A previous yacht had wintered over at Yakutat and found it charming with great places to explore and nice people - another Cordova?



58 38N, 137 34W

Entered the narrow entrance at low tide with water rushing out - not quite slack tide! There are three glaciers at the head of the bay and evidence of the highest tidal wave ever recorded in the world which occured in 1958 and which decimated the treeline to a height of 1740'. A beautiful anchorage which is a part of Glacier Bay National Monument, we stayed overnight in calm conditions, leaving at 0300 hrs next morning.

Inside Passage- Alaska


Elfin Cove

58 1N, 136 20W


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Tied up in the outer harbour of this boardwalk village. Met Dave (AL7DJ) who runs the Northern Boaters' Net, also Rolf and Sylvia on Betonia and Roland and Lisa on Andromeda. Invited to dinner on Wizard by Frank and Diane. Great company all and a wonderful little village at the most northern entrance (Cross Sound) to the Inside Passage. From here it is mainly protected waters all the way to Victoria at the southern end of Vancouver Island.


Jack's Cove Lemesurier Island

58 15N, 136 04W

An overnight stop en route to Glacier Bay necessary to enter the Bay with a flood tide. The anchorage was a bit exposed and gusty with williwaws.



Bartlett Cove

Glacier Bay

To enter Glacier Bay one needs a permit as only 10 vessels are permitted within the Park at any one time. The permit must be arranged beforehand. We were early enough in the season and managed to request one by e-mail in time to have a detailed form mailed back. On arrival we went ashore at 1030 for briefing with Deb and Judith.



North Sandy Cove Glacier Bay

58 43N, 135 59W

In calm conditions we motored north up the Bay in quiet sunshine to the first of our 6 planned anchorages. Glacier Bay has about 100nm from entrance to the heads of the 2 longest bays. We were rather surprised to see another yacht in the anchorage, something we would have to acclimatise to after being spoilt by Prince William Sound.


Reid Inlet, Glacier Bay

58 51N, 136 49W

A tidewater glacier, this was the chance to get THAT photograph. We anchored here for a night - a weird feeling being so close to the ice with water shallow enough to do so. At this point we are close to Canada -16 miles away. Walked with Smart family, chartering on a holiday from New York.


Lampugh and Margarie Glaciers and Blue Mouse Cove, Glacier Bay

58 46N, 136 28W

Much calving was underway from these glaciers with too much brash ice to get close. Along the way w e saw mountain sheep seemingly precariously balanced on a cliff face, but to them it was a yawn.


Tyndall Cove, Glacier Bay

58 35N, 136 21W

A deep cove with an interesting walk along the stream flowing to the head. A great anchorage where we saw two humpback whales cavorting and two black bears


Shag Cove, Glacier Bay

58 37N, 136 18W

Our last night in the Bay we await a favorable tide to leave and head back to Elfin Cove. It was a surprise to find Alfons and Clara and Windekind there to greet us. We cruised with them to Sitka via Peril Strait.



Hoonah, Chichagof Island

58 06N, 135 26W

Tied up at a transient berth at Hoonah Indian village. Took some interesting walks with the Windekinds to look at the fishery, some totem poles being carved from huge cedar logs and the township itself. Here we met "Seahorse", a small Finnish yacht with David and Monique aboard.


Tenakee Springs, Chichagof Island

57 6N, 135 12W

Famous for it's Hot Springs and Rosie's Café , Tenakee Springs is a small "retirement community" in a beautiful setting. We met a single woman in town who described a frightening encounter with a bear on her own at her remote homestead. They're tough these Alaskan women!



Deep Bay, Peril Straits

57 26N, 135 26W

We were having windlass trouble so we were grateful to raft alongside Windekind whilst waiting the slack current in Sergius Narrows en route to Sitka. Alfons had a hookah unit so I braved the Alsakan waters to adjust the pitch on our propellor. Just a difference of 2"' proved to be too much so we later had to ease back on the adjustment.


Sitka, Baranof Island

57 03N, 135 21W

Sitka has a huge Marina. We said goodbye for a while to Windekind and met Ken and Kathy Baker of Swansong. Kiwis who came to Sitka a few years back and stayed to work after Ken lucked out with a green card. They took us on a car tour of the local sites. Sitka has an interesting history through which much of Alaska's development can be learnt.


Goddard Springs, HotSprings Bay, Baranof Island

56 50N, 135 22W

A short run from Sitka and a tricky entrance to HotSprings Bay made with help from Gene and Bernice on MV "Illusion". Together we trekked up to the wooden tub fed from a trickling stream of VERY HOT underground water. It smelled a little sulpurous but we sure felt soaked in healthy minerals afterwards.


Reanne's Terror, Baranof Island

58 20N, 134 53W

On a windy day the entrance can be very daunting as an approach through breaking waves is required. The name was adopted by the author of the cruising guide, whose wife naturally was Reanne. Once inside the anchorage is more secluded than imagineable. A quiet beautiful place.


Littlewater Bay, Baranof Island

56 22N, 134 38W

A good anchorage may be found near the fisheries research station. We wished we'd gone ashore as they welcome visitors we were told later. It was raining and .. well we rested and read.



Red Bluff Bay, South Arm Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island

57 04N, 134 49W

Red Bluff Bay is a popular anchorage - it was too crowded but on our sortie to the head of the Bay we saw a grizzly bear charge in an effort to chase a dinghy away from her cubs. We moved on to Warm Springs Bay instead and there were more bears there too.


Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island

57 04N, 134 48W

We tied up alongside the public float after a night at anchor. The dock is beside the cascades which provide a tumultuous welcome for this magnificent place. We watched a bear just a few meters away ashore, saw a whale breach close by illywhacker's stern and indulged in a hot spring soak every day. Jim and Lonnie Brennan are long term residents and artists/fisherman/author Mim and Mike McConnell from Sitka lived aboard there in the summer.


Portage Bay, Kupreanof Island

56 59N, 133 19W

A strong current here whipped us through the entrance to a pleasant bay and a comfortable night.


Ruth Island Cove, Thomas Bay, Mainland

56 58N, 132 49W

The holding was poor in Thomas Bay, across the Straits from Petersburgh. Probably the last 2 glaciers we would see in our lives were at this bay's end.


Petersberg, North Harbour, Mitkof Island

56 48N, 132 57W

What a magic town! It's Norwegian. We ate at a handy crab restaurant where live Dungeness crabs almost filled the room. We met up again with Windekind and Seahorse and Karen and Art on Dreamspeaker and also with a schoolteacher couple, Alex and Dotty on "Schools Out". Visited the museum and took a bike ride out along the coast road. Quite a summer retirement community for people from "down south".


Wrangell, Wrangell Island

56 27N, 132 22W

In the Indian village of Wrangell we rafted alongside Windekind with Clara's brother Joris and his wife Paula and together visited the Petroglyphs believed to be 100's of years old.

Here we are resting and chatting after our discoveries.


Annan Bay, Mainland

56 14N, 131 10W

The Annan wildlife reserve has a fairweather anchorage and a 0.5km walk to a camoflaged platform above a busy salmon stream. We rafted alongside Windekind and Alfons took care of Illywhacker while we trekked to the site to see bears, eagles and the magnificent sight of salmon struggling to make their way upstream. I get so inspired watching such determination - surely a metaphor for our own lives or at least a spectacular natural history lesson.

See the 2 bears right in there with the salmon!


Frosty Bay, Mainland

56 44N, 131 48W

An overnight anchorage in the peace and quiet of Alaska's Inside Passage.



Meyer's Chuck, Cleveland Peninsula

55 44N, 132 15W

A "chuck" is a quiet cove usually with a tight entrance. Myer's Chuck is a great place which is losing it's fishing livelihood but the residents just like it for what it is....and it sure is nice. We tied up free to the public float, walked around thbe boardwalk town. Met Jerry and Penny Peabody on "Kindred Spirits" and Dr. Mike on "Trinity " whom we had met on one of his visits to Cordova.


Bar Harbour, Ketchikan, Revillagigedo Island

55 20N, 131 40W

Very touristy but interesting, Ketchikan was fun. Lyndall had a skin cancer removed at the Hospital where we gratefully received assistance from sailor Dr. Mark Raine. We met many new friends including SY "Our Country Home" with Ralph and Glenda aboard and Judy and Ed on SV "Dreamer".


Mink Bay, Boca de Quadra, Misty Fiords Nat'l Monument, Mainland

55 05N 130 43W

We checked in frequently to the "Northern Boaters'" ham net run by Dave in Elfin Cove and by Barbara in Sidney whom we later met. Both net controllers are ably assisted by Flloyd and Darlene on "Spontaneity" who mind a private resort, tucked away in Mink Bay. We were joined by Our Country Home in a visit to the resort - a truly quiet and magnificent spot.

What a job having this all to yourself for 50 weeks a year!


Foggy Bay, Mainland Alaska

54 57N 130 56W

Our last stop in Alaska, Foggy Bay was a beautiful anchorage though "crowded" by 5 other boats behind us, waiting weather for the run into Prince Rupert.

Inside Passage - Canada


Prince Rupert, Canada

54 19N 130 19W


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Our first Canadian port! We cleared customs by telephone from Atlin dock and were horrified by the daily moorage rates so we moved to the council dock with the fishermen and local boats. That was much better and the 10 min walk to town proved to be no problem. There we met Pat and Jim and were joined by our youngest son Matthew and then wife-to-be Julie who flew in from Australia for a month's holiday.


East Inlet, Canada

53 42N 129 43W

With our 2 guests aboard we sailed down Grenville Channel in company "Our Country Home " (OCH), a 44' Hans Christian double ender. They were to be our cruising buddies for the next month and we were fortunate to be able to frequently raft alongside them. Fortunate since my shoulder had given way and the anchor hawse was also causing problems, requiring some heavy lifting, an extra trial in the often deep anchorages.

Our first night was in East Inlet where Matthew caught 2 king salmon, 6 crabs and 150 shrimp. His $100 fishing license was looking to be a bargain!


Lowe Inlet,

53 33N 129 34W

Lowe Inlet has a magnificent series of lakes connected to the sea by tumbling cascades. These were ideal salmon viewing streams and Matthew and Julie saw their first schooling salmon wait for the tide before battling upstream.


Hartley Bay

53 25N 129 15W

A great Indian village, Hartley Bay has a free dock, fuel and water . Here we saw huge totems being carved from solid logs of cedar - enough to build a boat from just one log!


Bishop Bay

53 28N 128 50W

Not a good anchorage so we put down a "lunch hook" and rowed in to visit the hot springs in Bishop Bay. 2 fishing boats disgorged their crew about the same time but they courteously waited for us to finish. They were most disgruntled over the season's catch, limited by Canada's Fish and Game to unreasonable levels they said.


Goat Cove

52 46N 128 23W

We anchored near a stream on a shelf formed by the outflow of rubble. This practise is somewhat risky as the bottom drops away to 150' and the shallow area doesn't allow much scope. However the judgement one makes is always tempered by the forecast and the problems I was having hauling the anchor chain by hand.



Bottleneck Bay

52 42N 128 24W

This is the home of the famous and rare Kermode white bears. We looked as we walked up stream but none of any kind sighted. Matt fetched up 6 crabs for dinner. A very secluded and quiet anchorage.


Rescue Bay

52 30N 128 17W

At the Eastern end of Jackson Pass, Rescue Bay was an easy overnight anchorage. As everywhere in the Inside Passage, floating logs and bull kelp can be a hazard.


Kynumpt Bay

52 2N 128 09W

Kynumpt Bay had poor holding but we had a calm morning while hearing of a storm in Dixon Entrance.

Passed collapsing town of Butedale.


Bella Bella

52 4N 127 57W

Tied up for fuel, water and groceries . The alternative tie-up was commercial Shearwater but this Indian village had some character though expensive fuel. Just a 3 hour stop.


Forit Cove

52 10N 127 54W

We had a very still night in secluded Forit Cove off Gunboat Pass.

Motoring along Gunboat Pass as in most places we met many luxurious American power cruisers. Some were designed just for the Inside Passage it seemed. We thought that would be the way to go if we lived around here as the meandering waterways have little if any sailing breeze.


Elcho Harbour via Sir Alexander McKenzie Rock

52 23N 127 31W

Sir Alexander McKenzie was the first man to cross Nth America from East to West around the same time that Vancouver was exploring and charting the Passage by ship. They missed by days but there is a monument on a rock marking the point of McKenzies' turnaround. We launched our dinghy to do the tourist thing and read the inscriptions.

Elcho harbour is nearby and we anchored there for the night.


Ocean Falls

52 21N, 127 42W

Now this is a great stop! Ocean Falls is almost a ghost town being the site of a large timber mill set up to process the timber with power generated by a local hydro system from a large dam. The town is intact and managed by a few caretakers and fun though spooky to wander around. We hiked to the upper lake above the dam, dined in the Shack built on the large dock and met Ross and Kathy on "Pilgrim".

What I liked especially was the fact that one could buy a month's mooring at just a few $$ per day and use each day any time over the season. Next time.....


Codville Lagoon

52 03N 127 50W

A famous fishing and shrimp spot and a great anchorage. From here we hiked up to the beautiful lake with a red sand beach in the photo. In memory of Tasmania's Lake Pedder?


Kwakume Cove

51 2N 127 51W

Kwakume Cove has a VERY protected inner harbour with an entrance offering about 4ft clearance under the keel and between the entrance rocks at one spot.


Fury Cove via Fifer Cove

51 29N 127 45W

Whilst checking out Fifer Cove for an anchorage we saw a whale circling inside the tight bay. On to Fury Cove which gave us a peaceful night in company with 4 other boats, OCH and Pilgrim. From here most boats make the run across the open water to Pt Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island. Beachcombing ashore we saw a mink


Little Frypan Bay

51 29N 127 42W

Here we dinghied around an old raft log. Lyndall imagined she heard a cougar roaring . From then on cougars became more to be feared than bears or sharks!


Miles Inlet

51 03N 127 34W

An interesting tight entrance to this anchorage with little swinging room. Nonetheless we were all glad to reach it after crossing the open sea as we had motorsailed in confused seas. Peter and Julie were unwell but we all improved after a gourmet farewell dinner courtesy Glenda on OCH for Matt and Julie.


Port Hardy, Vancouver Island

50 42N 127 29W

At Port Hardy we tied up at the fisherman's marina then the 4 of us had dinner at IV's restaurant to celebrate a great month's cruise. Matt and Julie hired a car from there to drive to Victoria next day to catch a plane home to Australia.

Port Hardy is a nice town and we felt quite snug tied up here and as we were used to being in a fishing harbour the idea of staying for the winter was appealing. The price was right but the season was still gorgeous so we decided to press on with the option of coming back if we wanted.


Port McNeil, Vancouver Island

50 35N 127 05W

We tied up at Port McNeil marina with the help of the lady harbourmaster, beside OCH once again. We also met Carole and Tom, and Vic and Linda , other cruisers with tales to tell.


Port Neville

50 29N 126 05 W

This old dock led to a 100 year-old Post Office and after tieing alongside we had supper with the owner, Lorna and her daughter Erica Cheslick. We were joined by Barbara and Tom from Vancouver. The following morning we had tea with Urs and Judy of Raven Song, anchored nearby - a meeting which ultimately led to a lasting friendship


Douglas Bay, Forward Harbour

50 29N 125 05W

Spoke with Stephen Anstee from our Sydney cruising club by VHF. He crews on of Maple Leaf currently in Kitimat. Spent most of the day lolling in sunshine - tough!

Is this a calm anchorage or what?


Bickley Harbour

50 26N 125 23W

An early start had us heading for the first of 2 rapids at just before slack tide. However the morning fog rolled in and we were caught with no visibilty, many logs and fast water sweeping us through the gap. Our electronic charts and radar saved the day on the first and the skies cleared for the second.

We timed the transits well and motored through the second of the two rapids with just a little current against us. It was only after we were through that our propeller tangled and we lost speed, fortunately it cleared itself after we reversed a few times.


Thurston Bay

50 22N 125 19W

Here we tied alongside "Raven Song" and later OCH; tried walk to lake for 3hrs but no lake to be seen, so we all retired to cake on OCH.


Octopus Island

50 16N 125 13W

Octopus Island is in Desolation Sound which can get busy in school holidays so we counted ourselves lucky to be in company with 4 other boats. Anchorgaes were tight nevertheless so we rafted with OCH using our stern line ashore. Happy hour was on Raven Song nearby.

There is a hut ashore where yachties display their art works made from driftwood and local materials. Here is a cubby on the foreshore nearby.


Walsh Cove Desolation Sound

50 16N 124 48W

Motored in 25kt squalls but as usual they were short-lived and on the first night we had fresh clams then barbequed some enormous oysters gathered ashore with OCH and Raven Song on the second. OCH caught prawns, lingcod and king salmon


Squirrel Cove via Refuge Cove and Teakerne Arm

50 08N 124 55W

We entered lovely Refuge Cove for some supplies but found it was closed for winter. We took on some water then anchored in Squirrel Cove. Here we met Vicki and Tom on "Sunstone" from UK with whom we became good friends in Port of Sidney marina.



Pender Harbour, Garden Cove

49 37N 124 01W

Here it was time to say farewell to OCH. We had a good sail for a change and anchored alone for the first time in quite a while. Garden Cove was the site of a busy yacht club, restaurants etc - the sign of things to come as we head south toward the metrops...


Mark Bay, Newcastle Marine Park, Nanaimo

49 10N 123 55W

Spanking sail in 22 knots over-canvassed and making 7.4 kt average speed. Met up again with French yacht "Chaski" and Dominque and Nicolai


Port Sidney, Vancouver Island, BC

48 39N 123 23W

Somehow we arrived intact in Sidney BC. It looked a good place to spend a winter so we tied up at G14. We have many friends here and it is perfect for getting things done aboard.

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