September 27-28, 1999

Inside Passage, Alaska, USA
Aboard M/V Columbia
57d 8m North - 137d 23m West - Sitka, AK harbor approach

Update via satellite telephone by Jim & Andrew

Greetings from aboard the M/V Columbia ! We said our final good-by to Craig, Lucas, and Janilyn Hegen in Skagway as we boarded the Motor Vessel Columbia for a 7:15 PM (11:15PM EDT) departure down the Inside Passage along the southeastern coast of Alaska. Our first stop will be a brief one in Haines, AK one-hour away and then on to Juneau with a scheduled arrival time of 2:15 AM for a 3-hour layover.
Rufus and Cleo are sleeping peacefully in the truck. We will be permitted to visit them every three hours to feed, water and walk them. As the truck is their usual home, they are perfectly content. Andrew and I settle into our 70's decorated "stateroom" (I use that description loosely!) though it is clean, has its own bath AND shower and clean sheets/blankets. We are also fortunate enough to be on the outside starboard side with a large window. I have already determined that we can assess the Inmarsat POR (Pacific Ocean Region) Satellite for communications right out our window. We will be traveling in generally a southern direction and the Azimuth (direction) we need to point to the satellite will be SSW with an elevation of approximately 15 degrees. - right out our window!!
We settled in and ventured to the Dining Room (again vintage 70's décor) for a dinner of fresh Halibut. After dinner the afterdeck was calling for a cigar smoke and a final nightcap. A couple of our new Skagway friends were aboard bound for home after working in the town for the summer.
JW retired early to get a head start on sleep leaving Andrew to chat with
his friends. We woke briefly around 2:30 AM with our docking in Juneau and then back to sleep.
Tuesday we were up to visit the puppies at the designated time and breakfast with "Vera" the waitress in the dining room. The upper car deck, which was empty last night, is now at capacity with most of the "pet" cars located there. The ship even provides pet "clean-up utensils and supplies"! That task remains the responsibility of the master - Andrew. Our first port of the day is Sitka, Alaska arrival 3:00 PM local time. We went on shore to water and exercise the dogs and stretch our own legs. The approach to Sitka harbor (on the east side of Baranof Island) took us through narrow fiords about one half the width of Somes Sound on MDI providing breathtaking scenery at every turn. No whale sightings yet but lots of birds and sea otters. It must be an interesting sight to see a 400+foot ship navigate through these waters at 16+ knots!!.
Andrew and I have decided to go on deck and transmit this update via the satellite telephone (thanks to Carl Sederquest at Quest Telecom in Ellsworth and MVS ,Inc fro the satelliteservice) as we position ourselves on the afterdeck of the ship. Our next major port in Ketchikan tomorrow afternoon with interim stops in Petersburg and Wrangle.