Ketchikan sunshine filtering through the hatch by 4:30 this morning. Bright enough at that hour to wake up crew aboard Deception, although we wait for a more reasonable hour to rise and get the coffee started. By 0730 the harbor is awake and busy. We cast off lines for the fleet. Telita first, followed by Ajax and then Aquila, Eldean and Navigator.
Deceptions crew has swelled in ranks, with two new swabs to join Captain Brian, Mate Rowan and Vanessa, their on-board naturalist. Brandon, age 14 is earning his keep this morning helping with lines. Once Captain Brian has confirmed with each Skipper they are ready to push off, Brandon casts off the lines, and one by one the fleet heads out.
Outside the Harbor, we pass the M/V Columbia and M/V Malaspina at dock – two of the ferry vessels that are part of the Alaskan Marine Highway Service providing service for vehicles headed to Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg since there are no traditional highways to connect these towns.
It’s a gorgeous morning. Hard to believe that a place like Ketchikan gets an average of well over 100” of rain a year. The fleet falls in behind Deception. It’s only an hour into the adventure when Telita calls out the first whale spout of the trip. The blow is just off Deceptions starboard and we put our engines into neutral until a few minutes later there is a show of fluke. Humpback!
We arrive in Meyer’s Chuck, a town with a year round population of 30 (or so) on a +14 tide. We will be leaving tomorrow morning on a -2 tide. Brian takes the opportunity to remind the fleet that should they choose to anchor, it’s good to pay attention to this fact when they check their depth.
Deception anchors and Telita rafts up with them and the rest of the fleet nests up together at the dock. Meyers Chuck has a really lovely gift shop/gallery of handmade crafts – quilts, cedar bowls and knitted hats that is well worth checking out should you travel to this little outpost. Our crews head up from the dock together to check it out. Past the gift shop, the trail continues on leading to a half dozen small homes along the water front and then for another quarter mile or so into the cedar and western hemlock forest to a small rocky beach littered with well-aged driftwood. The younger members of Ajax’s crew discover an abundance of skipping rocks. And after skipping rocks become scarce, the competition turns to perfecting the art of throwing rocks to achieve the smallest splash. And after everyone’s shoulders are aching, we trickle back to the boat.
In the evening the fleet boards Deception for appetizers and cocktails, crews arrive via Deception Dinghy Service with platters tucked on the lap and bottles of wine in hand, climb the swim step ladders and spread out between Telita’s back deck and Deceptions Galley. The tide has dropped and the landscape has transformed. The homes previously on the waterfront now sit with 10 or 15 feet of beach stretching out beneath their docks that serve as driveways.
The lovely thing about a boat is that there is nowhere better to catch a spectacular sunset and this evening, we are treated to among the best you could wish for. The camera does a poor job capturing the true effect of the shifting palette in the sky. Meyers Chuck is cast is shades of orange and purple.
The sun drops into the ocean.
Welcome to southeast Alaska.