hi ;p;net.people.im looking for input and suggestions ideas.i want to take the state ferry from bellingham to skagway. im wondering if paying the extra money for a to berthroom is worth it.or if staying on the deck would be fine.i want to go april 1st.also how many hours of sunlight can one exspect.also wondering if the sights would be differnt.from april or may ,june .ect. what kind of weather will i have in april.thanks alot.herb.
alaska marine highway
I took the ferry from bellingham to ketchikan in 2000 and then paddled down to the san Juans. We left in may and stayed on deck, and it was great! There is a big difference in cost to get a cabin, and if you get in line early you can get a pretty sweet set up in the solarium area on deck. Its heated and covered with amazingly comfortable plastic reclining deck chairs. We just grabbed the reclining deck chairs towards the back and set up shop with sleeping bags and bivies/tarps. You definitely want to be towards the back though, because otherwise you can get wet from rain blowing in around the edges of the roofed area. So get in line the day of departure REALLY early. There were a number of folks who set up tents, and from what I saw, they were pretty unhappy. the tents have to be set up out on the deck in the wind, and they were very hard to tie down well so they didn’t move around. Pretty fun scene up there too, you’ll meet some interesting folks and see part of your route down. Bathrooms and indoor heated spaces abound on the boat, so getting clean isn’t hard, and you can get warmer if you need. can’t help you too much on the weather etc in April, but when we went mid may, average temp from ketchikan down was 50’s,lots of light till 9 ish.
Good luck, its an awesome trip!
As a general rule of thumb
the closer you get to summer the less rain and fog you should have. In addition the farther north you paddle the more rain you should expect. Prince Rupert gets more rain than southern Vancovuer Island. For the south coast area, this has been a drier year than normal and as a result snow pack is much much lower than usual. Have a good trip.
April is usally the start of better weather up here depending on when in the month you get up here. It is also one of out best months for skiing up on the pass outside of town. Check the weather underground for the length of daylight, but you should have plenty of daylight by then. Let me know when you get up here and maybe we can go paddling together. Stephen
We took the ferry back from Skagway to Ketchikan and opted for the solarium lounge chairs. The thought of being in a tiny berth with a tiny porthole after weeks of kayak camping made me feel claustrophobic. The solarium is open-air on three sides. When we went it was packed with other big-trippers–easy to tell from their numerous bug bites, lean bodies, and propensity to sleep 20 hrs/day and eat the other 4 hours!
You are allowed to set up tents on the edge of the solarium (where there is no roof), but bring duct tape to stick them to the floor. There will be some wind, and you wouldn’t want the tent to fly off into the ocean!
If the solarium is full, you may sleep in any of several other large areas, such as the movie room, the nature lecture hall, and so forth. The difference is that you must remove all your belongings from these areas during the daytime, when they are used for other activities besides sleeping. They are warmer, because they are not open-sided like the solarium.
If you are worried about personal possessions and don’t want to carry a pack around all the time, a berth would be worth considering.
The solarium in the ferry we took from Skagway to Ketchikan had radiant heaters in the roof (very nice). But the solarium in the ferry we took from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert was unheated; if I remember correctly, it did have heaters but they were not turned on.
If you are leaving
on the 1st of April, you’ll be taking the Malaspina. They have a heated observation lounge inside, as well as a heated solarium outside. If you’re considering a cabin, hopefully you MADE your reservations already cuz the two berth cabins are sold out on that trip. All that’s left is the 4 berth which is more money. They are half full right now for walk-ons.
April is going to be cold and even more so on the back of that ferry. If you pitch a tent take the duck tape advice cuz that’s the only way you can secure a tent to the deck. They have no tie down hooks. For yourself, just to walk on it’s $329.00. The 4 berth cabin is $484.00 Everything else is extra.
I came up on Bellingham to Haines ferry in August '02 to move up here. I had a blast!! My two man berth had its own bathroom and a window and it was all mine any time of the day or night. The racks were so much bigger than what I was used. I hung out on the back deck and made friends with the folks camped out there, but for me, it was nice to occasionally retreat to the room for a bit. I also brought my own food. It’s a lot cheaper to bring a cooler full of food than to buy it from the cafeteria. All the condiments and microwave, hot water, etc are free. Ice is available to fill up the cooler.
If you pitch a tent and it’s stormy out, the wind WILL flatten your tent. It was 93 degrees when we left Bellingham, but that night we hit a storm. One tent flew into the ocean, the others were flattened, so there was a mad scramble for space. You must get there extra early for a lounge chair in the solarium and whoever gets it, it’s theirs until the end of the trip.
Okay, my advice. Go later than April. I don’t know if you’re bringing a car or just walking on and what your plans are once you get to Skagway, but there’ll be a lot less snow and it’ll be a lot less colder. If you want a cabin and haven’t already booked one, do it now. They fill up fast with travelers and military. If you’re just walking on, you still need to book early. I booked my July trip a month ago and the boat was over half full already. Also, a ferry that stops in Sitka is worth it. The trip you have planned doesn’t have that stop. The more port calls, the better!
Anyway, hope this helped.