Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Inside Passage, Alaska, USA
Aboard M/V Columbia
55d 38m North - 132d 17m West - Between Wangle and Ketchikan, AK

Update via satellite telephone by Jim & Andrew

Our departure from Sitka was uneventful and on time. Rufus and Cleo were
exercised, fed and watered and settled back into the truck for the evening.
With our next stops in Petersburg at 4:30 AM and Wrangle at 8:00 AM
Wednesday, we opted to check on them after the breakfast stop.
After dinner Tuesday evening, we spent the rest of the evening in the
"lounge" with a number of passengers availing themselves of "Tony The
Bartender's" microphone and guitar. Most of the "performers" were quite
respectable though the critic's evaluation wasa probably tempered with
Alaskan Amber! Andrew was engaged in conversation with a young Austrailian
traveler wh had much experience with Land Rovers and SERIOUS off-roading.
Our arrival in Petersburg Wednesday AM was on time though the port was
shrouded in fog. We awoke at again at 5:30 AM with the ship dead in the
water. As I had discovered the ship's internal communication's radio
frequency, I was able to determine that we were ahead of schedule due to a
following wind and sea and needed to "waste" some time for a favorable tide
to approach Wrangle harbor. I am told tides range 20-25 feet in this area of
the Inside Passage. As The M/V Columbia draws 18 feet minimum, I can see the
Captain's desire not to run aground!! So we sat quietly at anchor.
Unfortunately, this 2-hour delay slowed our arrival into Wrangle until
10:00 AM generating some concern for the bladders of Rufus and Cleo. Andrew
decided to make a clandestine trip to the car deck for a quick check which
luckily revealed all was well the pooches!! Arrival in Wrangle was well
received by the pups successfully performing their morning duties ashore
along with the dozen or so other four legged travelers.
As the morning progressed and we departed Wrangle, the fog burned off and
temperatures rose through the low 30's. By mid-day it was partly sunny and
48 degrees making it most enjoyable out on the sunny side of the deck.
Receiving this update means that we have been successful in uploading to
the Pacific Ocean Region Inmarsat satellite while M/V Columbia runs south at
17+ knots. As it was difficult to determine our direction of travel and
orient the antenna using our manual compass (too much metal) - I obtained
the ship's position and "course over ground' from the Purser. We then
positioned the antenna relative to the ship's direction of travel and the
calculated satellite's position of 203 degrees. Andrew then held the antenna
and manually "tracked" the satellite's position watching the receiver's
signal strength and moving the antenna accordingly. I wonder if this is a
first using this model of Mini-M phone without an omni-directional antenna??
Our final port of call between our present location and the final
destination in Bellingham, WA on Friday morning will be Ketchikan, AK at
5:00 PM (9:00 PM EDT) this afternoon. From there south the projected course
on the chart looks to take us through many narrow inlets and passages
hopefully providing additional magnificent scenery. An advantage of
traveling these waters is that they remain mostly protected with little sea
while outside the weather service is reporting Small Craft Advisory with
winds NW 25-30 knots and seas of 6-12 feet. Not a place you would like
We hope to upload our final report tomorrow, Thursday 09/30, as we journey
between Ketchikan and Bellingham, WA. Over the weekend we will upload final
images and reflections of this wonderful adventure.