Heading northward, with the geese

The cover of our logbook for the coming journey. Osprey is our chartered 37-foot Nordic Tug, based in Bellingham, Washington.

TOMORROW AT NOON, I jump off my little world.

Well, sort of.

That’s when my brother Tom and I board the water taxi and I leave my little island for a big adventure.

We’ll load totes into my red Honda and meander our way across the Skagit Valley, dawdling a bit in the charming burg of Edison to look for roosting raptors in the Eagle Tree and pick up a loaf of Breadfarm bread. Then we’ll wind our way up Chuckanut Drive as it slithers the slopes of Blanchard Mountain to end up in Bellingham, where my adventure begins.

In this case, adventure lurks in the form of a 37-foot Nordic Tug named Osprey. Tom will drop me at Squalicum Harbor Marina and then make his way back to Center Island for cat-sitting, while three friends and I shoehorn a boatload of gear and provisions aboard the charter vessel that will be our home for weeks to come.

Saturday morning, my fellow voyagers and I shove off. Our direction: north. North, to Alaska.

For a year, we’ve been dreaming of and planning this trip up the famed Inside Passage. Our ultimate destination: Juneau, the capital of the state that pretty justifiably still calls itself the Last Frontier.

For some 900 nautical miles each way, at a speed of 8 knots — about 9.2 mph — we’ll explore a coastline of endless green forests and cool, misty shores. Armed with sharp binoculars and zoom-lens cameras, we’ll watch for whales leaping from the saltwater and bears sauntering the beaches. We’ll keep a sharp eye peeled for lurking rocks and half-sunken logs, and match our sea wits against whirlpooling currents and Pacific squalls. We’ll explore remote fjords all abob with icebergs. Like the giddy gold miners who flocked northward like geese in the 1890s, we’re bound for the wild unknown.

For me, it will also be a time for introspection and healing after a year of loss and, sometimes, loneliness. It will be 10 weeks of living in the now. I expect days of awe, bliss, exhilaration… perhaps interspersed with occasional moments of terror, depending on what the mighty Pacific throws our way. But with a stout craft and many sea miles between us, I’m confident we’ll make it through.

Grab a cup of good, strong coffee, buckle up your life vest, and stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “Heading northward, with the geese

  1. Your trip sounds wonderful, Brian! I’m sure the scenery and wildlife will be beautiful. Hope everything goes smoothly. Have a great time!


  2. Adventure. Many don’t seek it.

    I think of Bilbo the Hobbit. Hobbits, at the time, didn’t seek life outside the Shire. Bilbo himself was most wary in the beginning. But, off he went.

    Brian, you are no Bilbo. You have had a life of adventure. It is so much in you. Of you.

    North to Alaska. You are alive!


  3. Bon Voyage! So excited for you- and to get to go with you via your postings and pictures. Wishing you safe and grand adventuring!

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. I hope you’ll be able to write some along the way. I enjoy following your travels. Last weekend Terry and I were in Soap Lake, WA., and I was looking for accurate information on the “healing waters” of the place. Up popped your 2013 Seattle Times story, which told me everything I needed to know. It was nice to see a familar byline. Bon voyage!


  5. Will look forward to your postings, Brian. Have a wonderful adventure.
    Maybe you will get inspiration listening to “North to Alaska” by Johnny Horton.


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