Tuesday 11 June 2013


After a blessed lie-in this morning, we cruised into Ketchikan on yet another blue and sunny day, hanging over the rail spying on the captain as he manoeuvred us – skilfully - towards our berth. He was focused, but we were shamefully distracted by humpback whales spouting and diving between us and the shore, amazingly barely 10 metres from land. And then there were the float planes and helicopters bustling in and out of the inlet, and the fishing and crab boats, and the other cruise ships (big and ugly compared with Silver Shadow’s svelte form).

The town is known for its rain: if it’s not actually raining, it will in half an hour – but not today. The multi-colours of the houses and town buildings were bright in the sunshine against a backdrop of Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees, with white peaks beyond. There was time for a quick trot around the prettiest bit, Creek Street, lined with little wooden houses perched above the creek: from the beginning, offering services. Now it’s sheer tourism, but back in the early 1900s it was a place where, as they say, both the salmon and the town’s menfolk came to spawn.

My excursion today was out of town, past the totem poles and moored fishing boats, in Herring Bay where the salmon have just started their run, though the bears were AWOL today because it was so warm. I was there for the ziplining: eight runs high in the forest from excitingly (and unexpectedly) un-guard-railed platforms built around the tree trunks. It was a lot of fun, with added eagles, and we girls were much better at it than the blokes, who swivelled and got stuck and earned no points at all for style. We all enjoyed ourselves, though, and it made a nice change from what’s been up till now quite a sedate experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Then it was dinner on the pool deck, filet mignon self-cooked on a hot rock at the table, rugs over our knees and a serviette round our necks, while the sun slipped down with far less drama than last night, and there was, finally, as the BBC shipping forecast has it, ‘precipitation within sight’. It makes no odds with us, though – we’ve had the sun where it counted. Then a Motown concert, and bed again, rocked to sleep like a baby.

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