Posted on July 2, 2012 - by Nadia
Tuesday, June 26
Aboard the ferry Matanuska (filed from Wrangle)
Handling a sea kayak on shore is like taking your dolphin for a walk. It thrives in the water, but is just a nuisance in the parking lot. I fell asleep at the hostel in Prince Rupert aware that I was planning to take a ferry the next day to Ketchikan that would arrive at 11:30 p.m., and yet I had no ticket; nowhere to stay in Ketchikan and no way to move my kayak and all her contents away from the ferry dock. Towns are very stressful.
I awoke and fired off emails to a couple of sea kayak tour operators in Ketchikan, asking for advice or help. I tried to buy a ticket, but it was too late to get one online and too early to get one on the phone. I went to breakfast and hoped for the best.
The best arrived in the form of Thomas and Howard of Ketchikan Kayak Tours, who said they would meet me at the ferry, help take care of my kayak and take me to wherever I was staying for the night. I am eternally grateful to the strangers who extend a hand on this trip. Many of them become friends. All of them offer me the opportunity to be better to strangers myself.
On the ferry, I got a call from Dale at Eagle View Hostel in Ketchikan. He had room if I wanted it. I did.
And, of course, I got my ticket. The Alaskan Marine Highway, also known as The Ferry, leaves a lot to be desired, especially when the immediate competition is the British Columbia ferry system. Let’s just say a cart, or even a nice employee willing to lend a hand, would go a long way in improving customer service where kayakers are concerned. Kayaks are not laptops, but that’s pretty much how the ferry treats them: You brought it here, you get it on board. I’m keeping my comments on this short, but the ridiculous lack of accomodation triggered what my brother calls my Rambette personality disorder. I commandeered a ferry handcart, used my fleece jacjet to protect my kayak from its sharp edges and bungeed the boat to the dolly. Then, piling my big bags on top of the boat, I did my best to make the awkward shuffle to the boat look effortless. It must have looked easy because not a single soul offered to help.
I got it aboard in one shot, but I’m not feeling the love for the Alaskan ferry that I still feel for the BC one.
As I’m about to post this from Wrangle, I realize I’ve made a major leap without filing an update. Towns, where I can file, also create a flurry of logistical demands. I jumped from Butedale to Hartly Bay, a native community that really demands its own blog post. I caught the town high speed taxi from there to Prince Rupert, where I executed a very fast turnaround to Ketchikan. I arrived Ketchikan late at night, spent one day on logistics and left early the next. Each turn around was so tight that I didn’t stop to post an update. Neither town offered up much of a story, though I did see all the boaters from Butedale in Prince Rupert: Deb and Neal, Ramona and DC, Donna and Mike and the elegant fishing boat Tink. I arrived Prince Rupert with Herman, a kayaker from Baja, but left him there to get his own errands done and traveled on solo. That catches you up to speed.