Monday, April 30, 2012

SE Alaska 2012 - The voyage begins

Steamer SS Prince Rupert in 1953
SS Prince Rupert about 1914
The CNR Terminal in 1952 with John Craven in foreground

Well, this journey actually began 60 years ago when Bill Craven took a trip with his parents to visit an older brother in Ketchikan Alaska.Bill was just 13 at the time and he and his parents travelled to Vancouver, BC on the train and transferred to the Canadian National Railway ship terminal at the foot of Main Street to catch the steamer “SS Prince Rupert” for a voyage north to Ketchikan to visit Bill’s older brother Howard.
In 2012, we actually started our trip in Anacortes, Washington, aboard the Selene Trawler “Spirit”.  After a brief stay at Sucia Island, quietly anchored in Echo Bay, Spirit crossed the Straits of Georgia to Vancouver, BC, mooring at Quayside Marina in False Creek, at the foot of the Yaletown district.  This is only a few blocks from where Bill began his journey 60 years ago.

The CNR steamship terminal at the foot of Main Street in Vancouver was demolished in 1983 and the steamer “Prince Rupert” was retired from service in 1956 and scrapped many years ago. The area where the pier is located is now a park.   Yaletown, once a warehouse district in Vancouver, is now a trendy area of shops, restaurants, condos and apartments.  Just a few hundred feet from the head of the dock is “Urban Fare”, sort of like Whole Foods in the USA, where we did much of our provisioning of fresh fruits and vegetables which we could not bring across the border.

Today we also met up with Colin and Donna McCaffrey on the Selene “Serena”, who are also heading north.  We also talked to Alex Benson on the Selene “Wild Blue” who is heading north about one day ahead of us.
Bill Craven at the foot of Main Street near the former CNR Terminal

The terminal area is now a waterfront park

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2012 SE Alaska Trip Preparations

Since our return from the Holland America cruise to Tahiti in the Fall of 2011, Spirit under went maintenance and upgrades in Seattle before returning to our home port in Anacortes in December 2011.  We joined several other Selene Ocean Trawlers (Seeker and Wild  Blue) for a few days in late December and January, celebrating the arrival of 2012 in Ladysmith, BC and then stopping in Chemainus, BC before returning to Anacortes via Roche Harbor.

We spent most of the month of January in Tanzania and Kenya on a photo safari.  Returning from a fantastic trip we began serious preparations for our fourth trip to SE Alaska.  Spirit is nearly ready to go, needing just a few days of dry weather to complete the exterior waxing and varnishing.

Our route this year will hopefully retrace, in part, a journey taken by Bill Craven 60 years ago on the Canadian National Railway steamer "Prince Rupert" from Vancouver to Ketchikan.  Bill and Ruth Craven will spend the first month with us as we visit some of the ports of call of that voyage 60 years ago.  Weather permitting, we will stop in Vancouver for provisions before heading north. We also hope to take a brief side trip to Princess Louisa Inlet before passing by Powell River, once a regular stop for the steamers.

Places like Ocean Falls, BC, once a thriving community, are now deserted, with most of the buildings torn down.  Other sights, like the once thriving canneries at Namu and Butedale are now ruins decomposing back into dust.

Stay Tuned!