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Airship to Alaska | Day 2 | Roche Harbor to Newcastle Island, BC

Airship Goes to Alaska 2016

We left Roche Harbor this morning after a lovely evening with near perfect weather. Check out the light on the chapel last night!


At sunset, the Roche Harbor Color Guard does a flag ceremony where they take down the flags (the Washington State flag, the Canadian flag, the British flag, and then the United States flag), complete with soundtrack: Oh Canada, God Save the Queen, Taps, etc. Oh, and a canon salute. They don't mess around here in Roche Harbor…they take their pageantry seriously. We watched from the top deck of Airship:




We popped up this morning and headed for Canada! 

Totem pole on the shore (from the back) as we left Roche Harbor:


We called in to Canpass to get cleared through Canada Customs. (Canpass is cool! You get pre-approved as a low risk traveler, and most of the time you can just call in, answer a few questions, and get your clearance number and you're good to go.) We didn't have to stop at Customs or anything. Super convenient!


We headed for Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island for a little more provisioning (okay, for wine). You can't bring more than two bottles each across the border, so we stocked up for the next couple weeks. On the way into Ganges Harbour we saw this seal just hanging out like this. I'm not sure what he was doing…maybe getting a little sun on his fins?


We did a run through Mouat's but didn't find anything we needed (which is weird, because they have everything), so headed over to do our grocery and wine shopping. The public dock is so convenient for this! 


After groceries we stopped for a burger at the Burger Bar. Delicious, with a terrific view of the harbour:


After our short stop in Ganges Harbour, we headed north toward Nanaimo. We figured we should make miles while it was calm. 


We timed it so we could arrive at Dodd Narrows a little more than an hour before slack. The current was still running about 4.9 knots (with us) when we got there, which was no big deal. We just sort of coasted on the current and weren't too affected by all the swirlies. I took some video, but there's no way the internet will let me upload video right now, so I may add that to this post later. 🙂

Nice rock:


We decided to stay across from Nanaimo at Newcastle Island Marine Park. There are a bunch of mooring balls out front (and some dock space). We grabbed a mooring ball for twelve bucks Canadian for the night. 


View across to the BC mainland from our moorage:


We took the dinghy to shore to pay up and explore a bit. We were here a couple years ago (with the Airstream, and our bikes) and highly recommend a stop.


Newcastle Island is populated with MANY purple martins. (Note the little birdhouses on most of the pilings.) 


Baby geese! (Nanaimo in the background.)



We didn't go hiking this time on the island because it was getting late and we wanted to take the dinghy over to the Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island before dark.



You can grab a ferry over here from Nanaimo…sounds like they come back on the hour every hour to take you back to town.


We had a nice quiet evening…leftover risotto and caesar salad for dinner. I tried to get this blog post done but it wasn't happening. Internet was there, but super slow. So I'm finishing it up now as we head across the Strait of Georgia toward Lund. Another day with glorious weather (and calm seas)…we figured we should make miles while we can do so in such comfort!

Today's track from Roche Harbor to Newcastle Island BC (with a stopover in Salt Spring Island). 7 hours 54 minutes, 54.1 nautical miles:



  1. Casey Adams Casey Adams

    Hello, I’m very impressed with the image of the bottom from your sonar. Can you please tell me what make/model it is. Looks like something I should have!

    • Hi Casey, it’s a Garmin 7616XSV. The pictures you like are the DownVu and SideVu screens. They’re pretty great, aren’t they? 🙂

  2. Casey Adams Casey Adams

    They are quite impressive indeed. Perhaps we’ll cross paths this summer. We’ll be on our way to Glacier Bay starting Jun 8th and in Glacier Bay starting on July 7th.

  3. Casey Adams Casey Adams

    Oh Btw, our boat is named Green Goose. It is a Green Nordic Tug 42.

    • Great! We’ll definitely keep an eye out for you guys. SE AK is big, but small when it comes to other boats. We’ll be in and around Juneau from July 3-11th, and we’re picking up some friends in Gustavus on July 23…and have plans to be in Sitka by August 5th…so maybe we’ll bump into each other sometime in there!

      • Casey Adams Casey Adams

        Actually I had the wrong dates. We enter Glacier Bay on July 15 and exit July 21. So we’ll definitely be in the same general vicinity for much of July. Here’s a pic of our boat to help you spot us.

        • Perfect!! We’ve got to run into you then. We’ll have two friends with us and we’ll be “buddy boating” with our friend Sam on his 37 Nordic Tug called Safe Harbour. We may be in Hoonah on the 24th/25th….let’s keep an eye out for each other!

          • Casey Adams Casey Adams

            As an old salt I knew used to say “the coast is long, but it’s narrow!”

          • Casey Adams Casey Adams

            btw, is that Sam landsman?

          • Casey Adams Casey Adams

            We have a woman in common from our past. Ask him about it!

          • Ooooh, intriguing! We will! 🙂

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