Traffic On Admiralty Strait

They come in all sizes and from all over as ships travel through Admiralty Strait in the NW of Washington. Seattle and Tacoma are the top docking ports.

They come one at a time or seemingly they come in clusters. Much of the tug and barge traffic is from Alaska.

Counted in the traffic are Navy ships. With two ports to call on (Everett and Bremerton), you never know what you might see. This ship is at the munition pier adjacent to the Strait. There is some irony in this ammunition ship’s name: the US Cesar Chavez.

Through it all (and in all but the lowest of tides or the severest weather) ferries cross the strait connection Port Townsend to Whidbey Island. We’ve seen the ferry captains take some somewhat out of the way paths from one side to the other due to traffic and currents.

Multi-Modal Snake

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We didn’t expect the Snake River area to provide so many unique distractions. Here the American Empress is coming out of the locks at the Lower Granite Dam.

 

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Not many rivers can handle pontoon planes but there was enough straight runs of the river to allow this pilot access.

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Fall brought out the boaters too. As you can see, October temps were perfect.

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There are several cruise lines that run the Snake. The cruise season is remarkably long as one line begins sailing in late February and goes to the end of November.

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Coming together – planes, trains and jet ski boats.

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Not at all the action was on the river. Looking as clean and new as it was from the factory, this farmer seemed to be quite proud of his combine.

Ketchikan – Here A Ferry, There A Ferry

M V Taku

Not a great view of the MV Taku but this ferry is a favorite from previous trips. Like our ship, the Malaspina, it was one of the first built. 10 years ago we boarded the Taku in December in Ketchikan and adventure followed adventure for the next 5 days. Here the Taku is parked for the winter.

M V Kennicott

Ketchikan is a pivot point for the Alaska Marine Highway System. During the busier spring, summer and fall seasons, these ships are all on the go. This is the MV Columbia. In peak season it doubles up on the Bellingham route – so there are two departures each week. Want to get there faster? Take that seaplane you see in the sky.

Regional Ferry

The MV Prince of Wales operates separately from the state’s Alaska Marine Highway System. It connects Ketchikan with its namesake: Prince of Wales Island. We met a number of folks headed that way. That island is the fourth largest island in the US and has more paved roads than any other SE Alaska islands.

Drydock

Ketchikan also has an active ship dry-dock business. This is the Gordon Jensen, out of Seattle. It is a fish factory ship originally built in 1943. As I get ready to post this, the ship is now in the far western reaches of the Aleutian Islands and no doubt processing your next fish dinner.

Airport Ferry

Remember the “Bridge to Nowhere”? It never got the funding and so this little cross-channel ferry continues to takes passengers (& some vehicles) from town to the “International” Airport.

Race Week

Our new place is well situated. We look due south upon Oak Harbor and the entrance channel to the Oak Harbor Yacht Club. They have an annual event, now in its 32nd year, called Race Week. A few images from their recently concluded event follow.

Opening Day

I was told there were 73 sailboats that had signed up for the competition. Not all sailed each day and there were a variety of classes represented.

 

Heading Home

Getting a free ride home. The race courses were several miles away in open water.

 

Foul Weather

Another day and heading home again but not with the same optimal conditions. The weather that day featured over an inch of rain and gusty winds. I’m guessing the bar was crowded back at the yacht club that night with plenty of stories of foul weather sailing.

 

Occam's Razor

I looked up this sailboat’s overall finish – Occam’s Razor was last in class. Who knows what all the pennants represent but boat and crew are looking like they are happy just to be here. 

 Buoy Boat

First out and last in were these working boats. Those are the race course markers that are attached to the red hulled one..

 

Last Boat In

I saw this ketch (if I’ve identified the type) several times. The last day of racing ended with much better weather. That’s not an apparition serving as a backdrop – that’s Mount Rainier. 

Guatemala – Getting Past First Appearances

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You really can never get past first appearances in Guatemala. You think you see a “one of” thing then find similar along the roads as well as the towns. This was going to be (or was) a pretty nice series of condos, but poor design and location led to undermining and abandonment. Not to say that the brief glimpse of we had of Guatemala wasn’t beautiful, it was. Perhaps coming away with the impressions that we did of the country was unfair given just a day spent there, but time and time again, we saw how poverty and a seeming lack of heart undercut much of its charm.

 

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More rust than boat, this trawler was outbound when we arrived in Puerto Quetzal.

 

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One area that didn’t seem to lack the muscle or the will was in its heavy industry in and around the port. Not sure what the function of the buildings in the center, but the port is only a few years old.

 

Port

Containerized cargo tops the list for import (followed by corn & fertilizers). The top three exports were sugar, containers (empty) & bananas. The country has few natural resources as numbers were high also for the importation of coal, natural gas & “combustibles”.

 

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This is what the Guatemalan Coast Guard fleet looks like. When I googled them, what came up are, surprisingly, stories about our US Coast Guard making drug busts off the Guatemalan coast. Guatemala is a difficult country to write about. You want to be fair and communicate some of the beauty of the place but there is a grittiness that is hard to get past.

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Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

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Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala 13.920556, -90.787778

Sail Away

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Well, before we can sail away, we all have to take our life jackets and find our muster station. Princess drilled all 1900 of us at once in this and 4 other similarly sized rooms.

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With safety instructions out of the way, a neighbor kicks off the start of his cruise with some bubbly. There are about 1,900 other passengers and many with ringside seats like these on the Island Princess.

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Also departing ahead of us was the Sapphire Princess. That ship carries about 700 more people that the one we are on and was headed for the Mexican Riviera. We are off to the Panama Canal and beyond.