The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

The Long Journey North – Part Two – Seattle, WA to Haines, AK


A girl starts a new job and the posts suffer. Jeez. I miss my blog!


I last left you in Seattle.  Then I dashed up to Bellingham, WA where I drove my truck onto the  Malaspina boat of the Alaska Marine Highway system.  This was the final moment, I sealed the deal, I was going.

Parked in the queue for 2.5 hours, it felt like an eternity.  I had butterflies.

Luckily my inner crafter-radar alarmed.

These locals are part-time fisherman and part-time crew on a beautiful, old sailboat undergoing a restoration. Here, they were reusing the wooden beads and tying/stitching them into things called something I wish I would have written the name down.  The sail slid up and down the mast on them.  I sat and knit with them while they used completely old-school knot work and beautiful sewing techniques using old tools.

The boat they came from (it’s covered in plastic):

After an eternity the line started moving and I was getting closer to the belly of the beast:

Vehicles were packed in like sardines, like a big Jenga game.


One family had a truck with goats in it. They walked the goats around on leashes when passengers were allowed down.  One proud youngster introduced me to “Rosemary,” her goat.  Dogs and cats stayed in the vehicles.  It was quite a scene!  (Barking, lonely dogs and mewing cats sitting on dashboards looking for their owners. Plus goats.)


This guy rode his bike up to the Ferry.  He had the essentials on his two trailers – skis and a welder:

And we were off! Took three days and two nights.  Note:  Vancouver’s off the bottom of the map.  I got off at Haines.

I now realize I took no photos of the inside of the boat.  Here’s a quick summary:

Built in 1963 she’s 408′ in length.  I watched a film on the lengthening of this boat. It was dry docked and literally sawed in half, then spread apart, then added on to.  Really! Weighing 2,928 tons passenger capacity is 499 people with 50 crew.  I believe I remember hearing it burns 50 gallons of diesel per minute?  There are state rooms to be reserved.  I had to sleep on the floor of a sitting area the first two nights as there were none available. A few hardy souls set up tents on the tippy top.  The cafeteria served good food.  I supplemented with a small cooler.  There were a few places to sit and watch the scenery go by.  The best had huge views over the bow.  I walked laps around the deck. The last day was too cold and windy to walk around the bow.  I read some and knit a bunch. Knitters abound. I noted about a half-dozen, maybe more?


A fire drill for the crew:

I walked laps around the decks to keep from going stir-crazy:

If you’ve never cruised up the Inside Passage to AK I can’t recommend it enough. It’s gorgeous.  I lucked out with all blue-bird skies. Some are plagued with rain and fog.


Looking out over the rails.

Not sure what this structure is:

Ketchikan. Had 6 hours to tromp around in 8″ of heavy, unplowed slush. It was a much-needed leg stretcher.

See the barge with containers coming in?  upon closer inspection I noted RV’s and vehicles perched on top. Jeez.  I’m quickly learning how important this form of transport is for life in these parts.

Juneau.  We docked 7 miles away so I couldn’t check out the city:

Built in 1906, Eldred Rock Lighthouse is the oldest AK lighthouse and still standing 91′ above the water in Lynn Canal.  A famous scandal suggests it’s beginnings.  In 1898 the steamer Clara Nevada, hauling massive amounts of gold to Seattle from Skagway, and at least 100 passengers struck the rock and sank. The gold was never found.  All perished but a couple rumored survivors (given a skiff found in a grove of trees on the mainland.)  A captain and the ship’s fireman surfaced in later years.  A true accident?  Sabotage?

She was fully automated in 1976.  What a lonely, cold yet beautiful place to work.

Another lighthouse.  I can’t find this one’s name:

The passage gets narrow in parts.  Only a couple of places opened up with more exposure to the Ocean and bigger swell.  They announced these places so people could pop Dramimine.  Given my history of seasickness I was a little worried but found I did not get sick on this trip.

Glaciers popped into view.  I’d never seen one before!  I think this was a Wordless Wed. posted pic but  I’m putting it here as well. It’s the Rainbow Glacier just outside of Haines.  My jaw hung.

Landed in Haines and stayed the night to avoid driving in the dark. Glad I made that choice.  But more on that leg  of the trip later.  It stays just as pretty!

3 thoughts on “The Long Journey North – Part Two – Seattle, WA to Haines, AK

  1. Hi there, love this! I’m looking into this same ferry trip, to Haines next May and am having a hard time finding estimated pricing. I won’t be driving on, but what did your one way trip up to Haines cost?

    • Hey there. It’s a trip of a lifetime. So cool you are going! There are many factors at play. I went up in winter. Fares were relatively cheap being off-season. At that time, they had a special where you payed for your car but not your passenger fare. I think I payed just under a grand from Bellingham to Haines. (But again, that’s for the car only.) If you travel on foot in May, it will be less as the cars are really expensive to take. I’m not sure if May is shoulder season or into prime fare time. That will be a factor. They offer specials now and then. Watch their website. I needed to call them a couple times and found them really helpful. I bet, if you did, someone could give you an estimate based on this year’s May’s fares. Keep in mind adding berth will cost, it is prorated to the length of time you have it (they dole them out in segments between ports.) EG: 24 hour segment costs more for berth than just an 8 hour segment. On the way up I slept in my bag in the lounge area most of the time to save money (some people set up a tent on the outside solarium deck. There is some heat, but it will be chilly.) Pack food. The cafeteria was actually really good! But that can add up. I had a cooler. If you can, do take time to stop at ports and spend a day or two (or three!) on the way up. SE AK is stunning. Lots of history in those towns and very walkable. I will do it, again, someday sans car and stop in the out of the way, small ports. I’d be glad to share other beta if you like. Send me an email via the site. Thanks for checking out my site.

      So excited for you!


    • PS: Looking forward to following your blog, Kaysha, I’ve also put a link to it on mine.

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