The trip across Dixon Entrance on Saturday, June 9, was one of our best with only light winds and a low long-period westerly swell. We departed Prince Rupert predawn (naturally) but were preceded by one boat and followed by a half dozen more through low water slack in Venn Passage.
Because of the poor weather in the preceding days it was quite a fleet of pleasure craft heading to Ketchikan. We counted about 15 boats crossing, most of whom passed us at various points along the route (ah, the joy of being a slow boat).
It was a real crowd in Ketchikan and you could tell that most of them were first time Alaska visitors based upon the exchanges they were having with the Harbor Master. The harbor crew did a great job and found space for everyone. Even though we were near the end of the pack, we were fortunate enough to still get a bow-in starboard tie slip (but without AC power).
We got our shopping and chores done on Sunday in anticipation of departing Monday with the forecasted light winds and favorable tides.
Bright and early on Monday, with only 2 lines still on and all of the electronics operating I turn the key on the engine, hear a slight cough then only the low oil pressure engine alarm. Another twist of the key elicits only the alarm. Never a good feeling to be dead-in-the-water but at least we are tied to the dock and in Ketchikan where there are resources.
We go into diagnostics mode and after about 40 minutes of sleuthing we’ve determined the problem is with the engine starting battery bank, 2 AGM 4D batteries that are original with the boat. With no load they show 25.5 volts, with the engine in the on position they drop to 17-20 volts and when the starter is turned they are are at 7 volts. After isolating the bad batteries then engaging the house/start battery parallel switch, we easily start the engine with the house battery bank.
An internet search for “marine batteries Ketchikan” turns up Crowley Fuel (aka, Anderes Oil) as a source of marine batteries. Marcia talks with the crew of a commercial fishing boat that confirms them as the place to go. They open at 7 am and by 7:30 am we have a plan to take the boat down to their fuel dock where they’ll take our bad batteries and sell us new batteries. With a plan in hand, I decommission the old batteries and we hoist them (each weighs more the 100 pounds) into the cockpit.
Once we are tied to their dock, they confirmed that one battery had failed totally and we have to fuss over the optimum solution to our situation (turns out that 4D batteries aren’t all the same size), but the folks at Crowley Fuel were extraordinarily helpful and accommodating. By 5 pm that afternoon, we’ve got a brand new start battery bank consisting of 4 6V Trojan T105 golf cart style batteries in two battery boxes.
We try again tomorrow, Wednesday June 13, to depart on our next leg with a destination of Sitka.
Miles traveled this leg – 87.3; engine hours – 12.9
Total miles traveled – 714.5; engine hours – 104.4