Alaska 2008

Prince Rupert, BC to Queen Charlotte Islands, BC

110 Miles /176 Km (Via BC Ferry)

29 June 2008

Route Map

Route Information

Destination Map


Photographs and Commentary

We are off to the Queen Charlotte Islands for a few days of immersion in the Haida Culture. This has been Susie's dream trip since 1986 when she read an article in National Geographic (she still has the magazine) about the Charlottes or Haida Gwaii as the Haida people prefer to call the islands. The Queen Charlotte Islands are located southwest of Prince Rupert.

The ferry was scheduled to leave at 11 AM. The reservation information indicated that we had to be at the ferry terminal two hours prior to sailing. We had the truck packed by 8:15 and decided to make the five minute journey to the terminal. We could just as easily wait at the terminal than at the campground. While waiting we met some interesting folks who were heading to the island for camping, fishing and kayaking... it is definitely an outdoor type destination. The ferry started loading passengers and vehicles about 9:30 PM. The sequence of loading is somewhat of a mystery to me. When you check in at the gate, you are assigned a lane that I assumed had to do with the placement of the vehicle on a particular vehicle deck. As we started loading, vehicles that arrived later than we did and fit in the same classification as our truck, were loaded before us. We knew we were getting on the ferry, but when? Eventually our time came to load... this is not a procedure for the faint of heart. Before loading, we were told to fold our mirrors and this should have given us a clue of what was to come. As we approached the ramp we were directed to the port (left) side of the ferry. The space between the side of the ship and the trailer that was parked in the adjacent row was barely sufficient to get the truck in without scraping the paint off the truck. Crewmen guided us into the belly of the vessel. When we finally stopped, there was about an inch between the folded mirror and the trailer next to us. There was no way for the passenger door to be opened so Susie had to slide across the front seat to the driver's door which did not have enough room to fully open... it reminded me of parking in our driveway.

The crossing is supposed to take about six and half hours, but we were about 40 minutes late pulling out of Prince Rupert because of a "situation" in the car decks. The announcement indicated that we should still be in Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Island, on schedule, at 5:30 PM. The first part of the trip took us down the Inside Passage to the Dixon Entrance and the out to sea. The passage threads its way through a number of islands and the mountainous mainland. After an hour and half of watching islands going by, we turned to a more westerly direction and headed out to the open sea and the Hecate Straits. The sky was clear and the sunlight reflected off the wavelets like so many sparkling diamonds. According to my GPS our speed was 18 MPH. About 2:45 PM we started to see the mountains on the islands come into view through the haze. The ferry arrived within minutes of the scheduled time.

Once off the ferry, we made our way to the hotel. I can only say one thing, "wow, what a view." We have a room facing the water with a private balcony. There are only a few rooms in the hotel that have this view... Susie did a good job in finding this place. When I first looked out from the balcony, I saw two bald eagles chasing each other across the water. They came within a few hundred yards of our balcony. Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera ready to take photographs of them. I have a feeling that we will get other opportunities to get some good shots.

The hotel is the good news. We have just learned that the trip we were going to take tomorrow has been canceled because they did not have enough people signed up. This trip was to take us to one of the old Haida Villages and it was to be one of the highlights of our trip to the Islands. We are waiting to hear from the tour operator to see if we could get a trip on Tuesday. If not, we will tour the Graham Island, the main island where we are staying, on our own.

Plastic Owl on the bow of the ferry

The pole on the bow of the ferry had a plastic owl mounted on it. This is the only owl I have seen that has navigation lights on it, green for starboard and red for port.

Prince Rupert seen from departing ferry

The waterfront of Prince Rupert seen from the ferry. The BC Ferry terminal is below the houses on the left. To the right of it is the Alaska ferry terminal, operated by the state as the Alaska Marine Highway. Our campground is beyond the trees on the low hill at right.

Coastal Mountains and Island seen from the Inside Passage

Islands dotting the channel as we left Prince Rupert. The coastal mountains can be seen in the distance.

Approaching Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Islands

Approaching Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Island. The ferry terminal is just beyond the low point of land seen at the center of the photograph.

View from hotel balcony

The view from our hotel balcony

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