Catch as Ketch Can

Coming into the Country:  All vessels arriving in Alaska from British Columbia must clear Customs and Border Protection in Ketchikan before proceeding elsewhere.  Formalities for Jupiter and crew were easily completed by phone after securing our berth on the docks of Doyon’s Misty Fjords busy seaplane operation.

Jupiter’s approach to Ketchikan involved avoidance of massive cruise liners
Yellow Taxi drivers provide transport and valuable insight into life in Ketchikan, at a high cost

Full Disclosure:  Everything we have learned and are reporting about Ketchikan has been gleaned from conversation with Yellow Taxi drivers, all of whom are perceptive and outspoken; many of whom must be sourdough millionaires resulting from the usurious fares.

10 of Ketchikan’s 56 jewelry stores are found on Creek Street, historically the red-light district

Ketchikan is a small city, laid down thinly along Tongass Narrows, bounded by a wilderness of steep mountains on the land side and colossal cruise ships on the sea side.

Town life is dominated by arrivals and departures of these massive floating hotels and their denizens, which can at once double or triple the town’s population.  Fortunately they do not overnight in Ketchikan.

  • 4 to 7:  number of daily cruise ship arrivals in summer
  • 7,000 to 17,000:  number of people arriving per day
  • 56:  number of jewelry stores in town
  • 9/25/18:  next date without a cruise ship arrival
  • 12.5 feet:  annual rainfall
Immense, slab-sided cruise ships dominate the waterfront during the day

Meeting Needs:  Ketchikan might not have everything a boat crew wants, but it certainly has what it needs:  XTRATUF boots, foul-weather gear, provisions, hardware, foul-weather gear, hearty food, marine stores, PeaceHealth Medical Center, and foul-weather gear.

“I’ll be glad when this hot weather ends” – local wearing the universal woolly hat (the high today was 54 degrees).

“I’m gonna try to catch the tide over the bar tomorrow” – fisherman in the canned foods aisle at Safeway.

“Its like living in a town with a dual personality” – Bookseller at Parnassus Bookstore on the difference between summer and winter.

“Everybody who lives here loves it here, but we have a dark side” – Donovan, mellow Yellow Taxi driver


  1. Katie says:

    Oh my gosh – we LOVED Ketchikan, and it was our introduction to our Alaska trip. From there we took a seaplane to the Anaan Creek Bear Observatory and this is a MUST. The sea plane ride was so beautiful – all with a crusty old pilot in a rusty old plane whose knobs and dials had no markings left they were so finger-worn – soaring close to the mountain tops, banking over waterfalls and mountain goats for a better view, listening to cool music in headphones all the while. AND the Observatory itself is beyond amazing – you feel like you’re IN a NATURE episode or shooting for National Geographic. I hope you can go!!!!

  2. TheoAugusta says:

    90 days before there is NO cruise ship?
    Hope you got some nice “foul weather gear” 😉

  3. DeeDee says:

    I was fascinated by the ladies of the night on Creek St. Toured a restored “house”. Bought a book on how stranded widows of deceased gold miners supported themselves.

  4. Charlie Claggett says:

    The white chain saw monument. Is this Ketchican’s version of our white bicycles? Small monuments to sawyers killed by giant falling Sitka spruces? Or… maybe tourists killed by Alaskans wielding chain saws?

  5. Sally Seymour says:

    Love that you’re savoring local flavor. Ketchikan sounds a lot like Vermont where there are two seasons: winter and three weeks of bad sledding. ~ Glad you decided to outfit yourselves in local garb.

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