Yachting in Alaska

A sea story from 1930’s relates an account of a young man outfitting an attractive ketch in Seattle to sail north through the Inside Passage to Alaska. Along comes a bitter old salt walking the docks looking to crush anyone’s hope for success at sea.

“So you’re goin’ YACHTING, are ya? If ya think that fancy YACHT is going far, ya might wanna talk to those fishermen over there or that tug captain. Wait ’til you see what that YACHT’S gonna look like up there, sonny boy.”

Lighthouses pose as the most exclusive Yacht Clubs in Alaska.

Seven years ago Jupiter arrives in Victoria looking all yachty and the crew wonders if they, like Thurston and Lovey Howell III on Gilligan’s Island, can fathom what is coming next.

Pacific Patina

Few cruising yachts make the long passage from Puget Sound to and through Alaskan waters, but those that do inevitably accumulate the essential materiel needed by Pacific mariners.

Decks become cluttered with deck chairs and dock chairs, kayaks, skiffs, crab pots and prawn pots, nets and grill sets, cudgels and coolers, heaters, gas cans, fenders, extenders, floats with a shackle and fishing tackle, brushes, boots, buckets and buckles, boat hooks, baskets, slickers and snubbers, hoses, hoists and harpoons and blubber spoons, and all manner of anchoring fitment and safety equipment.

Cruising boats in the Northwest, like prospectors heading for the Yukon, pack in everything needed. Yachts are rarely washed. Why bother? It rains eternally.

Yachts Find Spots

The majority of vessels up north are working boats: commercial fishing vessels, fishing charters, whale watchers, tugs and tows, barges, ferries, and landing craft. Local watermen have a surprising tolerance for yachts coasting about where their livings are made, occupying dockspace, passing pastimes when time is money.

Jupiter beds down with the fishing fleet in every Alaskan harbor, often hot-berthing when commercial vessels vacate slips to work.


  1. Peter C. Macdonald says:

    I look forward to your posts again. I find that a minor jealousy accompanies my read. I suspect that the watermen you encounter are quietly respectful of your boating skills as they must certainly know what challenges you meet and resolve. Keep them coming!

    Hope to see you in Nashville in November!

  2. Heather says:

    We love your Aquanaut spirit and the musings that come from your incredible experiences. So many hard working commercial vessels. Hot berthing when you can made me smile. You have to tuck in somewhere.. Let those beautiful lighthouses safely guide you from one passage to the next.

    • Thanks Heather! The lighthouses are very beautiful, and always make us smile. Each has stories to tell. Just imagine what they have witnessed in wild winter storms.

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