Planning for this trip has taken up a huge part of our brains for the past several months. It was last summer we realized this trip was possible, but we didn’t really start planning until January of 2022. Reading the C-brats forum has been super useful in knowing ways to outfit our boat, and reading trip reports of other people’s Alaska trip. (The C-Brats is a forum for other C-Dory owners and fans of the boat. A C-Dory is the type of boat we have. Ours is a 22 foot cruiser.) I especially loved reading about Intuition’s Inside Passage trip on the C-Brats forum and their blog. They have a C-Dory like us, but theirs is 25 feet. 3 feet doesn’t seem like much, but when you are trapped on a boat trust me it is. Along with length they also get a little more width than us, and they have a shower, which we do not. I know Chris read a lot more on the forum than I did. I know he got a lot of other useful information off the forum and other trip reports, but I will only talk about what I know.
I also especially loved reading the Slow Boat blog. They definitely did it in pure luxury compared to what we are doing. Their blog has amazing pictures and even some recipes. They provide the perfect amount of detail to pictures. They also organize flotillas to do the inside passage and have a lot of experience doing it. So far I only read their most recent Inside Passage trip, but plan to read more from their past trips as well. Both the Intuition and the slow boat people did go during covid and it was nice to see them navigate restrictions. I’m hopeful that we won’t have many covid restrictions during our trip, but it’s nice to be aware just in case. (We will be boating through Canada and crossing several borders on our trip so it definitely complicates things.)
One of the Slow Boat people also did the inside passage with a 22 foot C-Dory (same boat as us!) in 2012 and he kept a great blog during his trip that I read as well. While he did it in the same boat as us, he had fewer people with him than we did. While all these blogs helped give me an idea of what to expect, where to go, etc., none had kids with them or as many people in the boat. It will be interesting to say the least to see how our trip goes with so many people, most of them being kids. We will have some unique challenges that these people didn’t face because of how many people are coming with us in such a small boat. We have to figure out how to sleep 5 people in a place that is ideal for 2 people, one of which is a young child that we want to make sure we have a safe sleep environment for as well. We will have more moisture inside the cabin to deal with because we have more people. We have to provision for extra people, we have to bring diapers and we have more trash to deal with. Then there are just some of the challenges traveling with little kids brings as well. While we will have different challenges to overcome doing it with our kids, I am very very optimistic that the rewards of doing this as a family will outweigh those challenges. I’m looking forward to the lessons, memories, and experiences my kids will get to have.
Back to planning. We also got a lot of books, maps, and watched youtube videos to help us prepare, plan, and decide what we want to see on this trip.
We would just search YouTube for different things regarding the Inside Passage and watch videos that we thought would be helpful. Slow Boat also has a very helpful YouTube channel on all things Inside Passage. (Seriously, I love the Slow Boat people!)
While reading blogs/trip reports I would take notes. I would make sure to write down where they stayed overnight, where they got fuel, how far they went, etc. I would also note things that were important to me. Where they saw wildlife, the time of year they saw the wildlife, etc. I would also make note of some of the places that stood out to me and put them on my must see list. I also went into google maps and saved all the places they anchored and got fuel. (google maps is great because I can share it with Chris. He can add what he wants to our Garmin chart plotter if he feels the need.) I made sure to organize this list into places we could anchor, places we could resupply, and places that were must-see. Seeing these places on my google maps has helped us plan our routes and the length of time we think we will need to get around. (Of course length of time can be so unpredictable due to weather, and other issues that might arise.
Our trip is also different from any I’ve read about it prior because we will be staying a little over a month in Juneau so Chris can work. We plan on doing weekend outings around Juneau so we have some flexibility there. We will also have the fourth of July long weekend in Juneau so we will be able to do a longer weekend trip that weekend and we can go a little further.
Since so much of the trip will be up in the air due to weather and other unforeseeable issues we can’t plan out our day to day. We have goals of how far we want to go each day, but being flexible is key. We are hoping to go through Canada quickly. We figure the closer to home we are the easier it will be to see when we have a shorter vacation window. The further from our home the slower we will be taking things. Due to this we have a general plan of what we will do, but every night before bed will be when Chris will plan out the next day. We have four weeks from when we leave our house until we check into our Airbnb. In that time we are hoping to see Sitka and Glacier Bay National Park. While in Juneau we are hoping to do Skagway, Tracy’s Arm/Ford’s Terror, explore Admiralty Island and maybe the East side of Chichagof Island, and have some time in Juneau. On the way home we will do Leconte Glacier and hit up some of the places we missed on the way up.
Ultimately, planning has been really fun for me. I’ve learned a lot about the geography of Southeast Alaska and planning has gotten me really excited for the things we will get to see. I’ve also realized that there is so much to see in Southeast Alaska, and so much of what we can do depends on the weather. No matter how much we plan there will just be things out of our control, but that’s part of the fun.