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Alaska – Friday Harbor to Juneau

Friday Harbor to Juneau

Summary : The Inside Passage is a 1000-mile saltwater corridor that twists through narrow channels and wanders among countless thousands of islands. A voyager could spend several lifetimes cruising from anchorage to anchorage, and never stay in the same one twice. The rich (and recent) history of the Inside Passage adds to the indescribable natural beauty. The “Catalyst” invites you to make your own voyage of discovery along this singular ocean pathway.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking


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Day 1
Friday Harbor / Embark

Like all other trips through these narrow reaches, your schedule is set around the tides. The narrowest passages become choke points for the currents flow, and can produce currents that are double the speed of the “Catalyst.” Today, leave the San Juan Islands and cross the international border, passing through British Columbia’s Gulf Islands. Catching the slack current through Dodd Narrows, you will moor in Nanaimo, where you will check in with Canadian Customs.

Day 2
Gulf of Georgia / Squirrel Cove

There are no big currents to face today, but instead big waters to cross. The Gulf of Georgia is about 30 miles square, and can generate significant wind waves. Cross to the mainland side of the Gulf and enter Desolation Sound after cruising north through the Copeland Islands. Tonight’s anchorage in Squirrel Cove will be a good place to launch kayaks and take a relaxed paddle around this protected cove. A unique feature of Squirrel Cove is a lagoon with a reversing tidal rapid. There will be great fun in the warm waters of summer!

Day 3
Whirlpool Point

Today is the day of the big currents! There are three major rapids to navigate, and to-the-minute timing is essential. Transit Whirlpool Point, Dent and Greene Point Rapids. Find shelter for the evening somewhere in the Broughton Archipelago.

Day 4
Queen Charlotte Sound

Today, make the first open-ocean crossing. Queen Charlotte Sound can be formidable, especially this early in the season, so there will be an early start. Engine start-up is at 5 a.m., and the anchor is on deck at 5:30 a.m.

Day 5 – 6
Inside Passage

You are now in the true “Inside Passage.” See barges, tugs, ferries and cruise ships. Make a few turns off of the “main road” to visit some interesting fjords and bays. Explore narrow, ice-sculpted canyons lined with waterfalls. In the river deltas at the heads of the inlets, you may see bears feeding on sedges having recently emerged from their winter dens. This is also the homeland of the rare “Spirit Bear,” a genetic mutation in the black bears of this region causes about 10 percent of them to be born with white fur. They are hard to see from the water, but sharp eyes may be rewarded!

Day 7
Dixon Entrance

You have one more open crossing to make, the legendary Dixon Entrance, before arriving in Alaskan waters.

Day 8

Arrive in Ketchikan at about 10 a.m. The sudden re-introduction to traffic and crowds can be shocking after the wildness you have just experienced, but this shock is easily treated with a milkshake!

Day 9
Meyer’s Chuck

After getting checked back into America at Customs, leave the float planes and cruise ships of Ketchikan behind. One of the favorite anchorages after the Ketchikan departure is Meyer’s Chuck, a quintessential Alaskan village.

Day 10
Zimovia Strait / Wrangell Narrows

The goal today is to pass through two of the most picturesque waterways in the world; first is Zimovia Strait, and second is Wrangell Narrows. At the north end of Wrangell Narrows lies the Norwegian fishing village of Petersburg. Here you may stop and stretch your legs, or you may push on toward the evening anchorage in Thomas Bay. From here, explore the outwash plain of Baird Glacier.

Day 11
Frederick Sound

Leaving Thomas Bay, continue north through Frederick Sound. As you approach Brother’s Islands, you should be on the lookout for Humpback Whales, which are arriving in their summer feeding grounds. Anchor among the Brother’s Islands, which provide a wonderful setting for a kayak paddle and forest walk.

Day 12
Endicott Arm

Today, cross Stephen’s Passage and enter Endicott Arm. At the head of Endicott, visit Dawes Glacier, an active salt-water calving Glacier. Spend the night in a small cove adjacent to the narrow entrance to Ford’s Terror, where you will play the currents and paddle one of the most dramatic fjords in North America.

Day 13
Stephen’s Passage

Leaving Endicott Arm, continue north through Stephen’s Passage. Passing verdant river estuaries, scan the emerging sedges for Brown Bears who are just emerging from hibernation. Stop for the night in Taku Harbor, site of a former Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and, more recently, a fish cannery.

Day 14
Juneau / Disembark

Travel the final 20 miles of the Inside Passage this morning and tie to the dock in the historic gold rush town of Juneau. Plan to be moored up by 10:30 a.m., leaving plenty of time to visit the Alaska State Museum before catching your flights back to “civilization."


While this is a planned itinerary, each trip differs slightly depending upon the time of the tidal currents, the weather conditions, wildlife viewing opportunities, and the wishes of the passengers.

Accommodations aboard the Catalyst; all meals onboard ship; wine and beer; excursions; entrance fees; leadership of crew and local guides; boots; kayaking equipment; and permits, unless otherwise indicated in the itinerary.

Not Included:
The cost of air flights, unless otherwise indicated in the itinerary; airport taxes; passports; visas; immunizations; insurance of any kind; laundry; excess baggage; items of a personal nature; discretionary gratuities; medical costs; costs of hospitalization; additional expenses arising from the delay or extension of a trip due to weather, political disputes, illness, failure of transportation, or other causes beyond control.

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