Inside Passage Registry

This is a registry of trips made through the Inside Passage (Washington, British Columbia, Alaska) by kayaks, canoes, rowboats, SUPs (stand up paddleboards) and other vessels that rely on human power as primary propulsion. You'll also find a variety of information sources if you're planning or dreaming about an IP (Inside Passage) trip in a small boat. The site is divided into four different sections:

Registry & Trip Reports - Names, dates and links to IP trip reports.
- An essential bibliography for the Inside Passage paddler/rower.
Free Information Sources - Links to free charts, coast pilots, ferry schedules, weather and more.
Gear - Miscellaneous info about charts, maps, GPS, food, and other essentials.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on border crossings and safe, long distance, human-powered water travel, the Inside Passage Registry is on hiatus and is no longer being updated. Don't let the lack of new content keep you from exploring. Just like the Inside Passage, there's a lot here to see.

Google is in the process of migrating their Sites pages to a new platform. The new link (work in progress) for this Registry will be:

Last updated October 15, 2020.

Registry & Trip Reports

Anna Grondin and Jeremy Nylander
2019 - Bella Coola to Skagway
single kayaks - Anna and Jeremy were on the water 87 days, covering nearly 1,000 miles. They have a great Web site devoted to their trip with super-detailed gear lists and route information. Definitely worth a visit.

Calvin Croll
2018 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation (winter)
single kayak - Going around Vancouver Island in a kayak is a big deal. Doing so during the winter is an epic accomplishment. Calvin Croll did just that, setting off from Orcas Island on January 1, 2018. 47 days later he returned. This is the first time I'm aware of someone successfully completing a circumnavigation during the winter months. Simply beyond impressive. Check out Calvin's account for the full details.

Ian Graeme and Janice Mason
2018, 2017 - Port Townsend to Ketchikan 
double kayak, wherry - Ian and Janice (Team Oaracle) finished back-to-back R2AKs. In 2017 they were in the double wherry, 
"Barbara Goss" (the same rowboat Susan Dandridge and Robin Clark built for their Ketchikan to Anacortes trip in 2007). In 2018 Iand and Janice switched from oars to paddles and used a Seaward Passat double kayak. (Hat tip to Dale McKinnon for the mention.)

Joachim Roesler
2018 - Port Townsend to Ketchikan (R2AK)
rowboat - Joachim used a self-built, Angus Rowcruiser for the 2018 Race to Alaska. Check out his link for the full story.

Karl Kruger
2017 - Port Townsend to Ketchikan (R2AK)
Stand Up Paddleboard - Honestly, I never thought a full-on IP trip in a SUP was possible. But Karl Kruger proved me wrong in a big way, with an astonishing R2AK finish time of 14 days, 6 hours, 7 minutes.What a testament to an incredible athlete and the viability of SUP long distance, endurance paddling.

Alex Zimmerman
2016, 2017 - Victoria to Prince Rupert
self-designed/built sail and oar boat - Alex did the IP between Victoria, BC and Prince Rupert over two summers. He completed the south part in 2016 with a friend in a similarly equipped craft and then Prince Rupert to Port Hardy solo the following year. Although equipped with sails, Alex ended up rowing 60% of the time due to a lack of wind. You can read more about his trips in these Wooden Boat Forum posts - 1, 2.

Bill Brackin
1987 to 2017 - Stanwood, WA to Wrangell
kayak - The Inside Passage can be consumed whole or taken in small bites. Bill Brackin has been doing segments of the IP for over 30 years and in 2017, he collected the whole set. Here's his story: "I began kayaking the Inside Passage in September, 1987 on a trip with Hans Dunshee from Stanwood, Washington to Nanaimo, BC.  In a series of trips where we paddled from 1 day to 17 days each I have connected all segments (some segments by numerous routes) from Olympia, WA to Wrangell, AK.  On July 23, 2017, Robert DeWolf and I paddled from Prince Rupert, BC to Ketchikan, AK by way of the Lucy Islands and Dundas Island with a 12 mile crossing of Dixon Entrance.  On September 17, 2017, I completed the last missing segment from Sointula on Malcolm Island to Port Hardy with Doug Cooper and John Street.  Most of these trips have included my friend Robert DeWolf, but many of them included others as well in groups of 2-8 per trip.  Some notable partners include Peter Theisen, Tim Hallmark, Karl Guntheroth, Katie Level, Don Erickson, John Street, Chris Houden, Kaz Furmanczyk, Bill Porter, Rob Freelove, Jim Oosterhof, Mary Oosterhof, Jim Haffner, Iris Corallo, Doug Cooper, Lyrinda Snyderman, and Peter Hurley. These trips have been paddled in no particular order, but all were paddled from south to north.  Robert DeWolf and I plan to paddle Wrangell to Juneau during the summer of 2019, and Juneau to Skagway in 2020." Bill, the membership manager of the Washington Water Trails Association, is happy to chat with anyone via Facebook Messenger or email about trips, campsites, or logistics. He also has numerous trip photos on his Facebook page.

Graham Henry, Russell Henry, Tanner Ockenden, Mackenzie Punter, Niklaas Rampen, Ryan Schissler (Soggy Beavers)
2015 - Port Townsend to Ketchikan (Race to Alaska - R2AK)
six man outrigger canoe - What do you get when you mix half a dozen young, hardcore, Canadian outdoor athletes, a massive 40-foot outrigger canoe, and a crazy, no-engines, no-holds-barred race up the Inside Passage? A blistering, Beaver blitz of 11 days, 5 hours, and twenty-some odd minutes (Victoria to Ketchikan). I’ve been tracking kayak, canoe, and rowboat  trips up and down the IP for nearly a decade now and three to four weeks to Ketchikan has always been smoking fast; keep in mind most people aren't racing or trying to set speed records. But this. A week and a half, and with few stops, and serious headwinds, I’m simply in awe. 7th place overall (going up against a fleet of zoomy sailing vessels) and the first human-powered vessel across the finish line. Well done lads. The Beavs’ Web site and Facebook page have more info.

Roger Mann (Team Discovery)
2015 - Port Townsend to Ketchikan (R2AK)
Hobie Island Adventure - I know. A Hobie Adventure Island is really more of a sailboat than a kayak, but after getting a chance to meet Roger and talk with him about his race, he definitely belongs on the IP Registry. The WaterTribe veteran tested his endurance and seamanship skills on the chilly IP waters, and was the first solo-skippered boat to cross the Race to Alaska finish line in an impressive 13 days and handful of hours (out of Victoria). Roger ended up pedaling his 16’7” long, Mirage drive-equipped trimaran about 60 percent of the trip. He endured pitchpoling the boat on a surf landing, losing all of his electronic navigation equipment, staving off frequent bouts of hypothermia, and other major and minor calamities; any of which would surely have caused a lesser competitor to throw in the towel. And best of all, he remains humble and reflective about his truly epic journey. Check out Roger's Facebook page for more.

Mike Higgins (Team Mike's Kayak)
2015 - Port Townsend to Ketchikan (R2AK)
single kayak - Mike was the first (and only) kayak to complete the inaugural Race to Alaska, using a carbon-fiber Greenland paddle to propel his plastic Prijon between Victoria and Ketchikan in a bit over 24 days. Mike is pretty well known within the Northern California paddling community and adds the IP to a long list of trips and expeditions. Expect a full recap at his official Web site after he recovers.

John Strathman (Team John)
2015 - Port Townsend to Bella Bella, BC (R2AK)
single kayak - John paddled and sailed his EasyRider Eskimo kayak as part of the first R2AK. After making unrelenting progress against conditions that caused many larger sailboats with full crews to withdraw from the event, he decided to call Bella Bella his final destination due to time constraints. 375 some odd nautical miles out of Victoria in 20 days ain't too shabby; especially considering all the nasty headwinds, losing a lee board, breaking a seat, and almost capsizing due to a flooded outrigger.

Russell Henry
2014 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation
single kayak - Endurance paddler Russell Henry flew around Vancouver Island in an amazing 12 days 23 hours and 45 minutes, beating the old record by 2 days. Russell's next adventure is a team effort, paddling a 6-man outrigger canoe in the 2015 Race to Alaska.

Jeff Schlingloff
2013 - Port Hardy to Bella Bella
single kayak - Jeff writes in that he paddled from Port Hardy to Bella Bella via the Goose Group islands in June. He's added videos of the trip to his extremely informative
Web site.

Bob Vollhaber (aka BeaV)
2013 - Bellingham to Skagway, AK
single canoe - BeaV did the full Inside Passage (in a Kruger Sea Wind) as part of an epic Alaska adventure. After the IP, he went inland, finishing up in Anchorage. Check out his blog for the full story, maps, and photos.

Brooke Greene & Kelly Yelverton
2013 - San Juan Island to Skagway, AK
single kayaks - Brooke and Kelly departed San Juan Island, WA on May 31 and arrived in Skagway, AK on August 31.
Head over to their blog for a great account of their adventures (including lots of photos).

David Omick & Pearl Mast
2013 - Ketchikan to Glacier Bay (via Sitka)
double folding kayak - David and Pearl, who paddled between Vancouver Island and Ketchikan in 2009, put another 900 miles under their keel, this time traveling between Ketchikan and Glacier Bay in over 70 days. Check out their very well documented trip account, which contains daily journal entries with photos and an extensive discussion of equipment.

Philip Torrens
2013 - BC portions of the IP
single kayak - Philip sends in a couple of very well documented (including photos and videos) trip reports. A two parter describing a trip from Gilford Island in the Broughtons to Powell River, transiting several of the tidal rapids (1 and 2). And a four part account of solo circumnavigation of Princess Royal Island (1, 2, 3, 4). Good stuff! I can't recommend enough that prospective IP-ers check out the site for great information like this.

Nadia White
2012 - Whidbey Island, WA to Juneau
single kayak - High Country News featured Nadia's account of her trip in an article titled "
Field notes from a solo paddle in Alaska’s Inside Passage." Great writing and photos.

Dick Callahan
2012 - Juneau to Seattle
dory - Dick rowed and sailed an 18-foot wooden dory down the IP, taking 79 days to complete the journey. He has a new book (December 2013) about his trip out, titled "Gear List of the Golden Moon." Here's a YouTube trailer for it. For more, including a review, see the Books section below.

Jeff Schlingloff
2012 - Black Creek, BC to Hyder, AK (with a Vancouver Island circumnavigation)
single kayak - Jeff paddled a venerable Klepper Aerius I up to Hyder, Alaska, took the ferry back down to Port Hardy, and finished his trip with a Vancouver Island circumnavigation that took him to his starting point. He spent 63 days paddling, putting 2,136 kilometers under his keel. Check out an interactive map he put together of the route (one of the best I've seen) on his Web site and a great collection of videos he shot on this YouTube playlist.

Denis Dwyer
2012 -
Bellingham to Skagway
single kayak - Denis, author of
"Point To Point: Exploring the Inside Passage by Kayak" (available as an ebook and in paperback) made another successful IP trip this year, paddling between Bellingham and Skagway.

Caroline Van Hemert and Patrick Farrell
2012 -
Bellingham to Kotzebue, Alaska
Not rowing or paddling all the way, but an epic, 4,000 mile trip by rowboat, ski, packraft, foot, and canoe. One of the earliest starts on the Inside Passage I'm aware of (March). The blog has breathtaking photos of the expedition.

Traci Cole and Tracy Landboe
2012 - Seattle to Ketchikan
single kayaks - Traci and Tracy headed north from Golden Gardens (Seattle) on June 24 and arrived on Ketchikan on August 9. Check out their blog for photos and info.

Michael Kleps & Elizabeth MacDonald
2011 - Bellingham to Skagway
rowboat - Michael and Elizabeth spent their honeymoon rowing/sailing up the Inside Passage in a 1958 15-foot sailboat (what a great way to start a marriage). Download their very well written and photographed account as a PDF file from the above link.

Brett Friedman & Sarah Greenwood
2011 - Ketchikan to Skagway
single kayaks - Brett and Sarah continued a previous IP trip from Port Hardy to Bella Bella this year, paddling from Ketchikan to Skagway in 21 days. Check out their videos on Vimeo - 1, 2, 3. There's more about the trip on Brett's blog, linked above.

Blake Crosby & Jeff Porter
2011 - Anacortes to Skagway
single kayaks - From their GPS track log, it looks like the Inside Out Expedition duo made their goal.

Abbott King, Nick, Jake, and Matt
2011 - Anacortes to Muir Glacier
single kayaks - Abbott writes in with news of a successful trip starting on June 15th and finishing August 17th. The group made side trips to La Conte Glacier and Ford's Terror, logging some 1,200 miles over in 64 days. (I'll post a link to Abbott's blog and Facebook page as soon as I get them from him.)

Colin Angus
2011 - Around Vancouver Island
rowboat - Colin smashed Joe O'Blenis' old record, circumnavigating Vancouver Island in an amazing 15 and a half days. More about the trip and Colin's other adventures at the link above.

Susan Conrad
2010 - Anacortes to Juneau
single kayak
- After being on her to-do list for several years, Susan checked off an Inside Passage trip. She spent 66 days getting from Washington Park in Anacortes to Juneau. Her friend Becky Hardy accompanied her between Port Hardy and Bella Bella. Check out some of Susan's photos here and here. Susan wrote a book about her adventures that was published in 2016. Check out: "Inside: A Woman's Solo Journey through the Inside Passage."

Doug Clawson, Katey Clautice, L'il Bit
2010 -
Seattle to Haines
single kayaks - Doug, Katey and L'il Bit (their miniature Dachshund) paddled and sailed between Seattle and Haines between May and August to raise awareness and donations for the non-profit company Interplast. Doug and Katey used Easy Rider kayaks set up for sailing and their trip account is very instructive for anyone thinking about using a kayak with a sail rig for the IP. Check out t
heir trip Web site for a great combination of stories, photos and practical advice.

Dave Freeman & Amy Voytilla
2010 -
Seattle to Skagway
single kayaks - Dave and Amy were successful in the first leg of The North American Odyssey project. Reaching Skagway (accompanied by John Amren and Clayon White who paddled with them from Bellingham) the pair continued overland to the Northwest Territories. They're currently taking a break but will resume their epic one lap around North America expedition in February 2011, working their way east across Canada with dog sleds and canoes, then paddling the East Coast of the United States; destination Florida in the spring of 2013.

Conor Flannery
2010 -
Seattle to Anchorage
single kayak - Conor put over 2,300 miles under his keel in about 4.5 months time (between March and July).
All for a good cause in raising money for medical supplies for developing countries. More about the trip at his blog or Web site.

Andy Linger
2010 - Olympia
to Skagway
single kayak -
Endurance athlete Andy Linger made his goal of doing the full length of the IP followed by an excursion on the Chilkoot Trail. Check out his detailed account of the trip at the above link.

Greg Kolodziejzyk
2010 -
Nanaimo to Port McNeil
WiTHiN - It's not quite yet the end of February 2010 and I get an email from a guy named Greg who said he'd just finished a 2.5 day, human-powered trip up most of the interior Vancouver Island side of the IP. I thought, it's not even spring yet and we're talking close to 200 nautical miles. A little skeptical, I checked out his Web site. All I have to say is "wow." Greg Kolodziejzyk in planning on pedaling his 30-foot, custom-made boat from Canada to Hawaii later this year. His run up the Inside Passage combined a bit of training with sea trials. Check out his trip report. What a fantastic blend of technology, fitness and determination. Best of luck with the Pacific voyage, Greg.

Maggie Woo & Bryan Kinshella
2010 - Vancouver to Ketchikan

single kayaks -
Maggie and Bryan successfully completed a fundraising paddle for an East Africa charity. The couple plans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island in the summer of 2015.

Jon Dawkins, Greg Polkinghorn, Dave Resler
2009 - Prince Rupert to Port Hardy
single kayaks - Jon has a very good write-up of his latest BC trip. If you have a compressed time frame or want to avoid the considerably more populated Vancouver Island stretch of the IP, be sure to check out his blog. The logistics of taking a ferry across to Vancouver Island, driving up to Port Hardy, and then loading kayaks on the ferry to Prince Rupert makes a whole lot of sense. Jon also has reports for a 2005 Bella Bella trip and an excursion to Klemtu in 2007. All of his accounts are great reading with entertaining and informative narrative.

Bill Nedderman
2009 - Olympia to Skagway
single kayak - Bill (who hails from Iowa) left Olympia on April 22 and arrived on Skagway, August 5. He then journeyed back down to Glacier Bay and ended his trip in Juneau on August 31. This was a great year weather-wise to spend the spring and summer on the IP. Bill's craft of choice was a venerable Klepper T-9.

Glenn Charles
2009 - Seattle to Skagway
single kayak - Glenn put 1,700 miles of paddling under his hull in 147 days, including circumnavigations of Glacier Bay and the San Juan Islands. Check out his blog for a full account. Glenn is planning another IP trip in 2011 and is looking for fellow paddlers.

Apryle Craig and Phil Magistro
2009 - Gig Harbor to Glacier Bay
single kayaks - After 111 days, Apryle and Phil finished their trip devoted to raising awareness of depleted salmon populations in the Broughton Archipelago and other parts of the IP. Check out their Web site for a blog and lots of information about their gear and route (as well as their worthy salmon cause).

David Omick and Pearl Mast
2009 - Port Hardy to Ketchikan
double kayak - David and Pearl paddled a Folbot Greenland II on their trip and took extensive photos and notes. Yet another must read account for the prospective IP paddler.

Sean Morley
2008 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation
single kayak - 17 days 4 hours 49 minutes - Sean shattered the old single kayak record by 6 days and the double kayak record by two days. His blog tells the details.

Doug Taylor and Jonathan Reggler
2008 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation
single kayaks - 2008 seemed like a big year for circumnavigating Vancouver Island.

J.J. Kelley and Josh Thomas
2008 - Skagway to Seattle
single kayaks - 95 days - The Dudes on Media did it. Check their Web site for a blog (with great pix) and info about the 52-minute documentary they made. Here's a recent newspaper article.

Darrell Gardner
2008 - Seattle to Wrangell
single kayak - Darrell is making his way from the California/Mexico border to the Arctic Ocean by foot and boat. He started in 2004 and Stage III of his expedition was paddling the IP. Darrell used podcasts to blog his way up the coast. Cool.

Denis Dwyer
2008 - Port Hardy to Skagway
single kayak - Denis paddled between San Juan Island and Port Hardy in 2007, and then finished up the entire Inside Passage in 2008. Denis continued his excellent trip report blog (recently revised) for this leg which I highly recommend.

Aya Reiss
2008 - Skagway to Bellingham - I received an email from Aya that she completed her trip (rowing), but don't have any other details.

Colin McDonald, Jonathan Hayes and Ryan Breckle
2008 - Ketchikan to Seattle
kayaks - Colin's article about his trip appeared in several newspapers (including the Seattle PI)

Joe O'Blenis
2007 - solo Vancouver Island circumnavigation 
single kayak - 23 days and 10 hours. Wow!

Mikko Suominen and Mari Impivaara
2007 - Seattle to Petersburg
single kayaks - Mikko just sent me the above link to a gorgeous, very large collection of IP photos hosted on Flickr. Check 'em out.

Denis Dwyer
2007 - San Juan Island to Port Hardy
single kayak - Denis' excellent trip report blog, including lots of photos, is a must read for anyone planning an IP trip (and recently updated in 5/2009 to even be better). The narrative and level of detail is first rate. He also has a very thorough gear list and evaluation discussion. Denis also has slideshows of his trip up on YouTube. Check out these links:
The Inside Passage on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry, San Juan Island to Powell River, Powell River to Port Hardy, Port Hardy to Shearwater, Shearwater to Butedale, Butedale to Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, Ketchikan to Wrangell, Wrangell to Juneau, Juneau to Skagway.

BC Rimbeaux
2007 - Anacortes to Skagway
single kayak - Check out BC's blog for lots of photos and trip info. BC recently sent me his journal and it's now been converted to PDF format. This is required reading for anyone considering an IP trip. An excellent, detailed narrative coupled with  extensive (and gorgeous I might add) photos that captures nature, adventure and personal reflection. Two thumbs up for one of the best practical and well-written accounts I've read. The journal is broken up into six parts. Right click on one of the following links to save a file. Pre-Trip, Leg 1 - Anacortes to Port Hardy, Leg 2 - Port Hardy to Bella Bella, Leg 3 - Bella Bella to Prince Rupert, Leg 4 - Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, Leg 5 - Ketchikan to Skagway.

Nick Gigere and Becky Peace
2007 - Glacier Bay to Bellingham
single kayaks - Another great trip blog from a pair of serious adventurers. (There's also a newspaper article about their trip here.)

Sue Dandridge and Robin Clark
2007 - Ketchikan  to Anacortes
double rowboat -
Robin sends in this email:

We just finished our adventure, pulling in on July 4. Thanks for all the useful information you supply on your site, and the connections are great. We met Karen and Rob who did the trip in 2000 on the ferry on our way up, and also BC who was paddling northward this year, and I was able to find their contact info through your site. There are a few people that are doing the trip and looking for info, and I'd be glad to talk with them if you want to pass my email on to them. Our website has never been that informative, and we didn't keep it as a blog, so I'm afraid it won't be of any assistance to them. Better if they contact me if they'd like to talk to someone.

It was a fantastic adventure, and thanks so much for supporting trips with your site!

I'm in paradise, rowing through BC, and as Ed Abbey said - Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards."

Amanda ?
2007 - Seattle to Skagway
single kayak

Keirron Tastagh and Jeff Norville
2007 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation
double kayak - Speed record attempt with a goal of 700 miles in two weeks (they did it in 19 1/2 days - impressive).

Steven Brouwer, Molly Bill, Ben Brouwer (and others)
2006 - Lopez Island, WA to Ketchikan and back
24' open wooden boat/sail and oar (Ben has an excellent account in words and pictures of this epic expedition in a hand-built craft)  

Bob Saunders and Graham Brown
2005 - Vancouver to Prince Rupert
single kayaks (Bob graciously provided an extremely detailed trip report with GPS coordinates, camping sites, and general observations - I highly recommend you spend time reading the above link; excellent information)

Mike and Ida Clarabut 

2005 - Ketchikan to Prince Rupert
single kayaks (the original Web trip report is gone, but this link is to an excellent PowerPoint presentation with gorgeous photos)

Regula and Gernot Walter
2005 - Vancouver to Ketchikan
double kayak - Seven days after his retirement, Gernot and his wife Regula departed Vancouver for Alaska. In 2007 they resumed their exploration of the north, paddling from Ketchikan to Glacier Bay. (Regula is writing about their experiences and is trying to get in touch with the caretaker at Butedale (Lou or Luke) for info on some of the paddlers/rowers that passed his way during the wet summer of 2005. She is also trying to contact an RCMP officer from Richmond BC to compare notes - he was about 10 days ahead of them, and from a cabin log entry at Lowe Inlet, his name was Ken Frail, or perhaps Trail. If you can help Regula out, drop her an email at: hardwear at shaw dot com.)

Eli Anderson
2005 - Skagway to ...
single kayak

Tom Stammer
2004 - Friday Harbor to Tongass Island (49 days)
kayak (Feathercraft Kahuna)

Dale McKinnon
2004 - Ketchikan to Bellingham

Pete Oslund
2003 - Bellingham to Sitklan Island (and 2006 Sitklan Island to Sitka)
kayak/rowboat (thanks to Dale McKinnon for the reference)

Garth and Kevin Irwin (CanKiwisKayak)
2002 - Victoria to Glacier Bay and back (inner and outer)
single kayaks - This is a great interactive Web site.

Mike Meyers and family/friends
2002 - Anacortes to Ketchikan
double and single kayaks

Tim Anderson
2001 - Keyport, WA to Ketchikan
outrigger canoe (rigged for sail and rowing) - lots of photos and narrative

Rob Walker and Karen Holm
2000 - Glacier Bay to Lopez Island
single kayaks

La Nina Expedition
1999? - Alaska to Vancouver, BC (Outside Passage)
single kayaks - 5 women take the more challenging route - Sea Kayaker article by Alice Weber (one of the paddlers) from August 2000

Trevor and Kat Todd
1998 - Ketchikan to Haines
kayaks - Trevor writes, "I'm not surprised that you do not have any listings for the year that we did it, 1998.  We met nobody. There were no guidebooks that we were aware of at that time but away we went. We paddled roughly six weeks from Ketchikan to Haines with stops at Wrangle, Petersburg and Juneau.  We crossed Admirality island on a short rail with a hand car.  We paddled up Tracy arm and camped on a small island that we could only land and launch at high tide. 
Oh the stories that flood (sometimes literally) into my head as I recall the trip. It was me and my wife Kat. What an adventure."

Randal Queen
Juneau to Ketchikan (John Muir route)
single kayak - check out the Book link above for a Word document Randal wrote about his trip - a good read.

Byron Ricks and Maren Van Nostrand
1996 - Glacier Bay to Olympia
single kayaks - Byron and Maren spent five months on their trip, which Byron recounted in the excellently written Homelands (see trip account books below).

Scott Davis
1994 - Port Townsend to Glacier Bay and back
25' custom rowboat

Jim Chester
1992 - Anacortes to Juneau (~90 days)

Charlie Parks (and crew)
? - Skagway to Seattle

Ray and Jenny Jardine (part I) - part II
1988 - Bellingham to Skagway
folding double kayak

Christopher and Cindy Cunningham
1987 - Anacortes to Juneau
Gokstad Faering - Seven years after his first trip, Chris Cunningham (with then wife Cindy) did an 8 week trip of around 1,000 miles. Chris recounts: "I built a replica of the 9th century Gokstad Faering especially for the trip. The clearly evident Viking shape of the boat was very easily driven under oars and sail and was exceptionally seaworthy despite the low freeboard amidships. I made a small side-hung rudder for easier course holding while under oars. Steering with that rudder was done by a line connected to a tiller on my footboard. I sewed a cover to stretch over tent poles at the sheer. Floorboards rested on the seat risers to make a sleeping platform under cover. I took a tent by many nights were spent aboard the boat. Up north it was a good way to avoid bears and bugs. The summer was dry with lots of following breezes on sunny days—dry southeasters I heard were fairly uncommon. Returned to Seattle via ferry with the boat tucked under a semi trailer on the car deck."

Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler
1986 - Seattle to Skagway
scull and kayak - Jill rowed and Doug paddled. One of many adventures included in Jill's book, Rowing to Latitude; see below.

Christopher Cunningham
1980 - Mukilteo, WA to Prince Rupert, BC
Dory skiff - Sea Kayaker magazine editor Chris Cunningham writes in. "One month, 700 miles. The boat was a 14' Chamberlain dory skiff that I built from The Dory Book. The sailing rig started out with a main and a jib, but I had illusions of doing a lot of sailing, even in light air so I added a topmast with a topsail, a flying jib and a jib topsail. It was a ridiculous amount of canvas and rigging and there were rarely favorable winds. I slept aboard on occasion with a nylon tarp as a tent over the cockpit. I slept with my head aft and my legs tucked to one side of the centerboard case. I sailed out of a lee at Gibson Island at the north end of Grenville Channel and had a very scary 5-mile crossing to shelter. The following day I had to race a fog bank to keep from getting engulfed in the vessel traffic lanes. That was my last day. It was September and the weather was getting to risky to attempt any more distance north. I packed it in at Prince Rupert and found a ride home (with my boat on a hastily built rack)."

Peter McKay
I heard from Chris Cunningham that Peter and a partner rowed the IP in a dory, back in the day. Trying to get additional details.

John Field and Bruce Titus
1982 - Paddling single kayaks, John and Bruce departed departed Skagway on May 10 and arrived in Olympia, September 9. John reports they took side trips to Seymour Canal, Revillagigedo Island, and Fijord Land, BC. (In 1992, John also circumnavigated Vancouver Island with and Pat Norwil. They left Anacortes on June 10 and returned August 31, paddling clockwise.) 

Verlen Kruger and Steve Landick
1982 - Verlen Kruger, arguably the greatest canoeist of all time, and his son-in-law went up the IP on their epic, 
three-and-a-half-year, 28,000-mile journey by water in and around North America.

Ed Gillett
1980s - Glacier Bay to Seattle (55 days)
single kayak (from a mid-80's SEDA magazine ad - Gillett later solo-paddled from California to Hawaii in a double)

Chris Cunningham
Chris, who's been the editor of Sea Kayaker magazine since 1989, dropped me a quick email the other day. "Soloed in a dory skiff in 1980 (I think) and then with my ex later that decade in a replica of a 9th century Viking boat that I built. I guess I should send you some info! I also did Port Hardy, around Cape Scott to Guise Bay where a long storm forced an overland retreat." Next time I see him I'll pin him down on details.

Tish Davis and Ginger Cox
1976 - Seattle to Skagway
rowboat - Tish and Ginger took 10 weeks to row from Seattle to Skagway. (A tip of the hat to IP rower Dale McKinnon for the reference)

Paul Clark
1971 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation
Paul writes in that he "left Maple Bay July 9, 1971 and returned thirty five days later August 13 travelling counter clockwise, solo in a 15 ft Klepper Aerius folding kayak." An account of his trip appeared in the Cowachin Leader. Paul was lost at sea in July 2014 while rowing between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy (see below).

Camp Ta-ha-do-Wa
1961 - Tacoma to Juneau (53 days)
five Willits canoes (kids and counselors on an expedition led by Dr. Alfred Schultz - See Willits Bros. canoe book below)

Betty Lowman Carey
1937 - San Juans to Ketchikan (66 days)
dugout canoe - rowed (see Bijaboji: North to Alaska by Oar book below)

Ken Wise (and two others)
1936 - Seattle to Skagway
two Willits canoe (one eventually was taken overland and went down the Yukon River - documented in the book Cruise of the Blue Flujin, see below)

Jack and Sasha Calvin
1929 - Tacoma to Juneau (53 days)
single Willits canoe (described in the July 1933 issue of National Geographic magazine, see below)

John Muir
1879 - Wrangell to Haines, Alaska (and back)
Departing in October, Muir and party travel to Glacier Bay and beyond in a 35-foot canoe

Tlingit Way Party
1857 - Kake, Alaska to Whidbey Island, Washington (and back)
Ten warriors led by a woman paddled a war canoe down the Inside Passage to Whidbey Island where they killed and beheaded Isaac Ebey to avenge the deaths of Tlingit and Haida tribe members by a U.S. gunship the previous year (Ebey had nothing to do with the incident and was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time). The Tlingits successfully returned to Kake with their trophy.

IP Emeritus

Randel Washburne
lots of dates - lots of places
single kayak - Randy is one of the pioneers of IP kayak paddling and has a literal boatload of experience. I first met him at a West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium eons ago, and he was one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, humble people I'd ever encountered (I haven't seen him in years, but his Web site tells he probably hasn't changed much). Anyway, spend some time reading The Burnett Bay Cabin Journals, Kayaking and The Alaska/British Columbia Coast and his other writings. Good stuff. (Randy is rumored to be working on a freeware Inside Passage kayak simulation game. When/if it sees the light of day, I'll include a link.)

In Memoriam

Paul Clark - In 2013 I received an email from Paul that read, "Next year, my seventieth, i am planning a trip from Prince Rupert to Victoria by oar and sail along the outer shorelines of Porcher, Banks, Aristazabal, Calvert, and Vancouver Islands to Victoria as a way of revisiting the past, the places i fished commercially over a twenty five year period. I will travel in a Paul Gartside designed skiff of 16 ft built of cedar and epoxy and modified for coastal expeditions. I have tested it by sailing/rowing across the Gulf of Georgia a number of times." Paul was good to his word and departed Prince Rupert in July 2014. He was last seem north of
Aristazabal Island. When he didn't check in with a family member a search was initiated. Paul's capsized boat was found off the Washington coast on July 31, 2014. He remains lost at sea.

Audrey Sutherland - Sometimes called the Grandma Moses of Kayaking, Hawaii resident Audrey Sutherland started paddling when she was in her 40s (her book, Paddling My Own Canoe is an inspirational must read for any sea kayaker). Audrey got an itch to paddle Alaska and over a 20 year period (1980 to 2002) kayaked over 8,000 miles of Alaska and British Columbia waters. In inflatable kayaks, mind you. A true pioneer of the sport, she passed away at age 94 in February 2015. Audrey's last book, Paddling North, recounts many of her IP adventures.

Other Notable Human-Powered IP-related Trips

Jonathan Francis
2011 - Honorable mention to Jonathan for making it a lot further than I thought he would on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP)

Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman
2007/08 - Seattle to the Bering Sea (over 4,000 miles)
foot, ski and packraft

Rob Dyke
2005 - Vancouver Island circumnavigation

Check out the Panoramio Inside Passage photo page (hat tip to Denis Dwyer)

Trip Account Books (links to Amazon and elsewhere)

In March 2018, Alex Sidles compiled a comprehensive list of Pacific Northwest kayaking guide books (with extensive Inside Passage coverage) along with reviews. Highly recommended.

Inside: A Woman's Solo Journey through the Inside Passage
Susan Conrad
Susan's book about her 2010 IP trip from Anacortes to Juneau was published in May, 2016. I've only had a chance to skim parts of the memoir, but think it's a thoughtful and well-written account worthy of any paddler's library.

Gear List of the Golden Moon
Dick Callahan
Dick piloted an 18-foot wooden dory between Juneau and Seattle. He recently (December 2013) published a book about his 79-day trip. Click the link above to check out his awesome YouTube trailer. Here's a review of the book with my thoughts. You can order it from Taku Graphics in Juneau ( handles distribution for book sellers. Or reach Dick at harborsealpress at gmail dot com.

Spirited Waters: Soloing South Through the Inside Passage
Jennifer Hahn
Kayak guide and naturalist paddles between Ketchikan and Bellingham over several seasons. This is a pretty good book that 
captures the spiritual (not religious though) and practical aspects of kayaking the Inside Passage. The author adds a lot of natural science and history to her story.

Homelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage
Byron Ricks
Husband and wife (Maren Van Nostrand) kayak from Glacier Bay to Seattle. Just finished reading this book and I highly recommend it. An excellent introspective account of the challenges and adventures of paddling the entire route in a pair of Mariner IIs. Ricks is an excellent writer and story teller (also Maren did the wonderful illustrations) and I'd consider this book a must-read for anyone planning to paddle all or part of the IP. 

Rowing to Latitude
Jill Fredston
Jill and her husband's many rowing and outdoors adventures, including an account of the couple's 1986 trip up the IP (she rowed and he paddled).

Bijaboji: North to Alaska by Oar
Betty Lowman Carey
Personal account of a woman's 1937 IP solo trip to Ketchikan in a 13' 10" long dugout canoe (rowed not paddled). Very detailed information including a trip log. A good story.

Row to Alaska By Wind & Oar
Pete and  Nancy Ashenfelter
A retired couple's story of their 70+ day trip up the Inside Passage (done during a year with no summer, and more than 50 days of rain).

Visions of the Wild: A Voyage by Kayak Around Vancouver Island
Maria Coffey, Dag Goering
Vancouver Island circumnavigation account. Lots of photos.

The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska
Kim Heacox
Another Alaska kayak book. Written by naturalist Kim Heacox, a longtime resident of Glacier Bay. More of a conservation-oriented account of Heacox's time as a kayak ranger in the 1980s, versus a trip guide.

Travels in Alaska
John Muir
Muir's accounts of trips in Southeast Alaska, including his 1879 canoe journey from Wrangell to Glacier Bay and Haines. (This link goes to the free eBook version.)


Point To Point: Exploring The Inside Passage By Kayak
Denis Dwyer
Accomplished IP paddler Denis Dwyer gets honors for publishing the first ebook (December 2009) on kayaking the IP. I've long recommended Denis' blog as essential reading, and this is a chance to get all of the information (and more) in an easy to access, offline readable ebook file. The reference is available in Kindle format; directly available from Amazon. If you don't have a Kindle ebook reader, don't sweat it. There's free reader software for Windows. The book is also available in paperback.

Alone in the Passage: An Explorer's Guide to Sea Kayaking the Inside Passage
Denis Dwyer
Denis has a new book out based on his 2012 trip from Bellingham to Skagway. A 400+ page compendium of essential skills, knowledge, and wisdom for anyone planning to take on the IP. The book is available in ebook and paperback formats, and as with his previous book, highly recommended.
Kudos to Denis for both his prolific paddling and writing. (Check out Denis' list of campsite GPS coordinates further down the page, which appear in this book with further detail.)

Out of Print Books

Cruise of the Blue Flujin
Ken Wise
Four Sea Scouts, circa 1936, start out in Seattle and paddle the Inside Passage in two canoes. Review coming when I get around to ordering a copy.

Ragged Islands a Journey by Canoe Through the Inside Passage
Michael Poole
Three month IP trip in a canoe. Review coming after I get a copy.

Oar & Sail
Kenneth Macrae Leighton
A doctor in his 60s rows from Vancouver to Prince Rupert. Found a copy in a used bookstore the other day. This is a special book that's really written from the heart. The stories and accompanying woodcut prints are wonderful. Kenneth has since passed away and this short, little book is a legacy to his adventure and the type of person he was. I would have liked to have met him. Not a whole lot of practical trip information, but worth trying to find.

Kayaking in Paradise: Journey from Alaska Through the Inside Passage
Greg Rasmussen
Three month IP trip narrative with lots of photos. Review coming after I get a copy.

Guide Books

Kayaking the Inside Passage: A Paddling Guide from Olympia, Washington to Muir Glacier, Alaska
Robert H. Miller
Published in May 2005. This book is a must for anyone paddling the Inside Passage. The first complete guidebook for kayakers paddling the  IP, it identifies campsites, water locations, hazards and more. Well written, with maps, photos, and practical advice. (It uses the Calm Channel route to get to Johnstone Strait through Yaculta, Dent and Green Pointe Rapids versus the more direct  Seymour Narrows route. The author says it's more scenic and safe.  Ballpark measuring with Google Earth shows this route to be about 30 miles more paddling than going through Seymour.) There's an October 19, 2005 review comment on Amazon from a kayaker who used the book as his guide for paddling the entire route. Pay attention to what he has to say about campsites mentioned in the book. Miller is now selling a 50 page update with corrections and new information. He also hosts a discussion forum. For more on both visit:

The Wild Coast ( I  II  III )
John Kimantas
The author put in over 6,000 miles of paddling on the BC coast during a five year period, so is pretty qualified to discuss the Canadian parts of the IP. These guide books have been recommended by a number of paddlers and are top-notch.  Kimantas' Web site had a large amount of valuable information for the IP paddler, including a collection of trip reports. However since he took over publishing Wavelength magazine in 2008 much of the content from the Wild Coast site has been moved to the magazine site.

Alone in the Passage: An Explorer's Guide to Sea Kayaking the Inside Passage
Denis Dwyer
I already mentioned this reference in the Ebook section, but it's worth repeating in the Guide Books too. Be sure to check Denis' latest out.

Exploring the Southeast Alaska: Dixon Entrance to Skagway, Exploring the South Coast of British Columiba: Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound to Broughton Archipelago and Blunden Harbour, and Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia: Blunden Harbour to Dixon Entrance, Including the Queen Charlotte Islands. Don Douglass and Reanne Hemingway-Douglass cruise around the Pacific Northwest and Alaska in their big boat (at least compared to a kayak), visiting all sorts of different places and taking copious notes. The above mentioned cruising guides are a product of their first-hand knowledge and experience. In these three volumes you'll find charts (not to replace the navigation charts you'll need for the trip), GPS coordinates and detailed information for the entire IP route (and a whole lot of other places too). These books are kind of spendy between $50 and $60 US, depending on which volume you buy. At over 500 pages each, they are great planning references.

Waggoner Cruising Guide is considered the Bible of northwest cruising (updated annually). A few years ago the publisher started to offer a PDF version of the complete book for free download (just sign up for an email newsletter). A great resource as you can put the full book on a phone or tablet and easily print out pages relevant to your IP trip.

Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage. Anne Vipond and William Kelly. This is a relatively new cruising book that looks promising for IP paddlers. More info when I get a chance to see it in person.

Other Books of Interest

Beyond The Outer Shores
Eric Enno Tamm
OK, it's not about kayaking the Inside Passage, but I really enjoyed this book and wanted to list it. This is the story of Ed Ricketts, one of the pioneers of marine ecology. It's a fascinating account of a maverick marine biologist with no college degree who was way ahead of his time. Author Eric Enno Tamm brings to life Ricketts and an amazing cast of characters from the 1930s and 40s including novelist John Steinbeck (who used Ricketts as a model for "Doc" in Cannery Row) and scholar Joseph Campbell (the famous mythology scholar who's work was influenced by Ricketts). There's lots about BC and the Inside Passage, including a 1932 collecting trip that Ricketts and Campbell took from Tacoma to Juneau in the 33-foot Grampus (captained by Jack Calvin, who earlier paddled the IP in a canoe with his wife three years earlier).

The Willits Brothers and Their Canoes: Wooden Boat Craftsmen in Washington State, 1908-1967
Patrick Chapman
I'm a self admitted kayak guy, and although I've done some canoeing in the past, have always preferred the closed deck, double blade mode of transportation. I've got to admit it though. After reading Patrick Chapman's excellent historical account of the Willits Brothers and the wooden canoes they made for over 50 years, I've got a lot of new respect and appreciation for these decidedly old-school boats (and their creators). From the 1930s to the 1960s a number of Willits canoes did the IP, and the functional, yet work of art boats are now treated as collectors' items. Chapman does a great job of describing the Willits, their manufacturing operation, the boats they produced, and even presents some untold accounts of IP trips such as a 1961 boys' summer camp trip from Tacoma to Juneau. Check out this article for more about the Willits brothers.

The Curve of Time
M. Wylie Blanchet
Yet another non-kayaking title, but a classic story of 1930s life on the IP (I'm a sucker for period historical works). A recently widowed woman and her five children spend summers cruising the IP in a 25-foot boat. Wonderful descriptions of people and places in a simpler time. A must read for anyone planning an IP adventure.

Old Magazines

Nakwasina Goes North - National Geographic, July 1933 - Jack Calvin
A Man, a Woman, and a Pup Cruise from Tacoma to Juneau in a 17-foot Canoe. Jack and Sasha Calvin paddle and sail (12 hours out of 53 days) a Willits Brothers canoe up the Inside Passage in 1929. Lots of photos. Worth tracking down at a library or on eBay.

For nearly thirty years, Sea Kayaker magazine was the go-to, information source for anyone interested in open-water paddling. Since 1989, I was privileged to have 20 articles published by SK. Sadly, the magazine’s last issue hit the newsstands in January 2014. There was a history piece I wrote for SK that was one of my favorites. In memory of the magazine, here it is: Sea Kayaking in America: The 1920s and 30s. Chris and Sea Kayaker, thanks for the journey. You will be greatly missed and always appreciated.

Free Information Sources


Coast Pilot 7
NOAA has all of their latest Coast Pilots online as PDF files. For the uninitiated, a coast pilot contains written descriptions and information about waters and landforms - they're meant to be used with charts. Coast Pilot 8 covers US coastal waters between Mexico and British Columbia (including the Puget Sound, where you'll either start or finish your trip).

Coast Pilot 8
Coast Pilot 8 covers the British Columbia border up into Southeast Alaska.

NGA Sailing Directions - Pub. 154
The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is responsible for creating defense related maps for the United States government. They also provide quite a bit of maritime information, including Sailing Directions (similar to a NOAA Coast Pilot) for non-US waters throughout the world. Pub. 154 is for British Columbia and is freely available as a PDF file. (The NGA has lots of other cool online maritime publications worth checking out.)

British Admiralty Sailings Directions
Well, they're not really free, but... The United States is unique in that it makes digital maps, charts and pilots freely available to the public - they're created with tax dollars, so why the heck not. Unfortunately, Canada and the UK are pretty stingy with their charts and pilots, keeping them tightly copyright controlled. However, an anonymous IP paddler who goes by the name of Edward Teach informs me that  PDF versions of the British Admiralty Sailings for British Columbia - NP 25 (12th 2004) British Columbia Pilot Vol.1, NP 26 British Columbia Pilot Vol.2 - are floating around the Internet and may be found by doing a little Googling.

Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS)
CHS doesn't offer as many free resources as NOAA, but it's still worth poking around their Web site to see what they have available gratis and for pay.

NOAA Digital Charts
As of early December 2005 NOAA has put all of their charts online for viewing or download; both the RNC/BSB raster versions, which are scanned charts, and the ENC vector versions, which look computer-generated instead of hand drawn. Nice for planning and reference or when you're bored at work. You can use the free, Windows Sea Clear program to view downloaded charts or use Maptech's free Chart Navigator to view, plan and print RNC/BSB charts. Chart Navigator is the same as their commercial Offshore Navigator program, but lacks the GPS connectivity and real time navigation features (which you don't need for kayaking anyway.) Better yet, I highly recommend NOAA's BookletCharts for Washington and Alaska waters. In 2006, NOAA started playing around with the idea of breaking a full size chart into rescaled, easy to print, 8.5x11" pieces. They started with Chesapeake Bay and have been expanding the program ever since. Now you can get most of their charts in this format. They come as Adobe Acrobat PDF files and allow you to conveniently print kayak-friendly charts. As of the first part of 2010, the BookletCharts are still considered "experimental" - which means they are updated once a month versus once a week like the RNCs and ENCs. Due to lots of positive public feedback and getting a few software glitches worked out, NOAA will be striking the experimental status very soon and making BookletCharts a part of their official offerings. Kudos to them for providing yet another excellent, free resource.

USGS Topographic Maps
For the Washington and Alaska legs of the trip you can use USGS 1:24,000 scale topographic maps (called DRG or Digital Raster Graphic, these are scanned paper maps in GeoTIFF format). A list of where to get free DRGs for each U.S. state can be found at the above link.

Natural Resources Canada - GeoGratis
1:50,000 scale digital topographic maps of Canada. These are scanned paper maps in GeoTIFF format that you can open with any graphics program and print. Here's a link to an index so you know which ones to download. The entire BC portion of the Inside Passage spans 56 maps (sizes range from 10 to 48 MB a piece, so you definitely need a broadband connection to download). Thanks to the Canadian government who made this resource freely available in 2007. Other maps are available at the site and it's worth looking around.

Garmin-compatible GPS Canadian topo maps
If you have a Garmin GPS receiver that uses Mapsource maps, check out these free 1:50,000 scale maps that Dale Atkin makes available for uploading. Other free Garmin compatible maps for locations all over the world are here, but unfortunately nothing for the Alaska portion of the IP. However, a newer site called GPSFileDepot does have some Alaska maps that will work with your Garmin - no topo maps yet, but it's worthwhile checking back every now and then to see if some amateur cartographer had added something new..

Magellan-compatible GPS Canadian topo maps
The Magic Maps project plans to convert Canadian topographic vector data to free maps you can load on a Magellan eXplorist or Triton GPS receiver. Not much of BC is done at this point (3/31/08) but it's worth checking back as maps for the entire country are planned.

Canada Centre for Topographic Information
1:250,000 scale digital topographic maps of Canada. A good navigation resource for British Columbia waters, especially for locating stream water sources. (These are vector maps, not raster-based scans of paper maps.)

Google Earth
An amazing program that displays satellite imagery. Much of the same data is available on the Web at, but Google Earth allows you to display terrain in 3D and measure distances. This is a cool planning tool that will give you more of an idea of what the IP is like compared to a paper chart.  Highly recommended and free! (For online topographic maps of Alaska and Washington, visit TerraServer USA.) High-resolution satellite coverage unfortunately isn't available for most of the IP, but Google is incrementally adding data and hopefully one day we'll have access to 1-meter (or less) resolution data for everything between Puget Sound and Skagway. In 2015, Google started offering its premium Google Earth Pro for free. Highly recommended because of the advanced features.

Maptech Map Server
Free Web-based nautical and aeronautical charts, terrain maps and aerial photos. Mostly for the US and definitely not meant for use on the water, but a handy and quick reference; especially for planning. (See below in the Pay Information Sources for more about Maptech's commercial software.)

Light Lists
Light lists are lists of navigation aids such as buoys, lights and fog signals. Handy to have if you pass a navigation aid and want to know where you're at (for example if you cruise by a white cylindrical tower with a green band at top and a green light that flashes every second, you can consult the list to help you zero in your location). Click here for US waters and here for Canadian waters.

Lighthouses of Canada - Lightkeepers have a pretty friendly reputation to kayakers. Here's the definitive list of lighthouses, with maps, photos and even the ability to send some lightkeepers email.


Western Regional Climate Center - Historical weather data for the Western United States. While the past doesn't necessarily predict the future, having good statistics can give you a better sense of the weather you'll be facing during different parts of the year.

Climate Prediction Center - NOAA's generalized temperature, precipitation and hazard forecasts for the US. Outlooks range from 6 to 10 days to 3 months in the future.

Environment Canada - Canadian weather, including historical, for the BC leg.

Washington Ferry Weather - Real time wind and temperature data for the Puget Sound and San Juans collected by state ferries. An excellent resource.

Route and General Info

West Coast Paddler is an excellent BC kayaking Web site. The forums are an especially good source of local knowledge.

Waggoner Cruising Guide Web site. Annually updated, the Waggoner is considered the Bible of northwest cruising. The book's Web site had a whole lot of useful information for paddlers and rowers, particularly in the Interviews & Articles and Reader Questions section (one gem is to check the West Sea Otter ocean buoy hourly report on your weather radio - if it's 1 meter or less, Queen Charlotte Sound is going to be nice and flat.) A few years ago the publisher started to offer a PDF version of the complete book for free download (just sign up for an email newsletter). A great resource as you can easily print out pages relevant to your IP trip.

BC Marine Trails Network is an effort to create a human-powered water trail along the BC coast. The non-profit effort is just getting started but will be extremely beneficial to the IP paddler in identifying camp sites. West Coast Paddler has a forum dedicated to listing camp sites that will eventually be incorporated into the official trail.

Hiking Trails for Boaters in Coastal British Columbia and Alaska. Bruce Campbell has been compiling this list since 1998 and it's an excellent resource for places to stop and stretch the legs a little bit (or perhaps even for locating a possible camp site)..

Wavelength is a Canadian kayaking magazine with lots of information about various parts of the route (from past issues), freely available online.


Alaska Marine Highway System - Schedules and fares for getting between Southeast and Bellingham.

BC Ferries - Serving beautiful British Columbia.

Washington State Ferries - For getting to and from the San Juan Islands.

Cruise ships

Yeah sure, you can take a cruise ship up the IP, but that's not what I'm going to talk about here. Suddenly having a giant cruise ship looming over your kayak as you round a point can be a bit of a heart-stopping surprise. However cruise ships are creatures of habit and follow set schedules. If you're so inclined, with a little Web research you can get a pretty good idea of ports of call and when a ship may be in the same vicinity as you. To get a better idea of summer cruise ship traffic on the IP (at least the southern section) check out the Live Ships marine traffic Web site. This slick resource uses AIS (Automatic Identification System) to display real time positions of vessels all over the world - including speed, vessel name, and size. Zoom in and out to an area you're interested in and see what vessels are on the water. Click on an icon to get information about the vessel; some even have photographs. AIS is a fairly recent technology and not all vessels use it (yet), but I've found cruise ships on the move seem to always be transmitting their positions. If you have a cell phone with a data plan (that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to use in Canada) and coverage, using AIS tracking Web sites such as this one can give you a heads-up on what's ahead (or coming up behind). 

Other discussion on Inside Passage

WoodenBoat forum discussion on IP by small boat

WaterTribe - Hard core paddlers in Florida who do serious, expedition length races. Yes, I know, wrong coast, warm water, and snakes, but some of the gear and safety recommendations are applicable to the IP (plus the stories are good).

BitterEnd - Not about kayaks, canoes or rowboats but still one of my favorite maritime blogs. Captain Richard Rodriguez pilots the Vessel Assist boat Remedy in the San Juan Islands. He accounts his adventures (and the misadventures of others he ends up towing) in words and photos. Entertaining and educational even if you don't drive an internal combustion craft. Trivia time. What brand of boat does the good captain end up towing the most? If you guessed Bayliner, give yourself a gold star.

Free Tide and Current Software

Knowing the tides and current in the IP is essential for planning as well as day-to-day travel. In addition to the numerous printed tide and current tables that are on the market, there are also a number of excellent free software programs for providing this information. Here is a list of some programs to download and check out.

  • Windows - Your two choices are WXTide and WTides. Download both to see which one you like the best.
  • Mac - The Unix version of XTide should compile and run on an OS X system. Mr. Tides is another tide program based on XTide that is already compiled and ready to run.
  • LinuxXTide is a very popular Unix tide program. In fact most of the other tide programs listed here are based on the open source code.
  • Java - JTides is a multi-platform tide program that runs on any computer that supports Java. Some cool features, simple to use and made in local Port Townsend. This has turned into my favorite tide program and I find myself using it just about every day for planning paddles or beach walks.
  • PalmTide Tool runs on most Palm PDAs.
  • Pocket PC - Or if you're of the Microsoft persuasion, check out cTide.

Inside Passage Motoring

Not human-powered, but still some good reference information.

BoaterEd Inside Passage forum (there is a very lot of good information here, including many photos - motorboat oriented, but still useful for paddlers and rowers)

Trawler wannabe spends a week on the Inside Passage

Journey to the wild north

Passage to Alaska - 14 Days Up the Inside Passage by Wooden Boat

Alaska in 21-foot Mini-Trawlers  (these little guys are as long as my surfski, but are very cool)


Just as an FYI, here are distances between potential stops on the Sidney BC to Ketchikan route (via Seymour Narrows). Distances are in nautical miles and were plotted on electronic charts based on following a typical kayak route more closer in to the shore.

Sidney to Ketchikan Legs (657.69 nautical miles)

Sidney to Nanaimo - 43.72
Nanaimo to Comox - 53.01
Comox to Campbell River - 30.08
Campbell River to Kelsey Bay - 46.00
Kelsey Bay to Port McNeil - 46.85
Port McNeil to Port Hardy - 22.69
Port Hardy to Wilkie Pt.* - 35.11
Wilkie Pt.* to Pierce Bay* - 35.01
Pierce Bay* to Namu - 27.73
Namu to Shearwater - 28.16
Shearwater to Klemtu - 42.59
Klemtu to Butedale - 38.27
Butedale to Lowe Inlet* - 46.12
Lowe Inlet* to Prince Rupert - 60.32
Prince Rupert to Maskeylene Pt.* - 29.02
Maskeylene Pt.* to Bullhead Cove* - 39.63
Bullhead Cove* to Ketchikan - 33.38

* = locations without services/moorages

Also, see Bob Saunders' excellent 2005  trip report for detailed information on a less-traveled, more scenic indirect route.

Campsite Coordinates

Here are GPS waypoint coordinates in GPX format for campsites from Bob Saunder's 2005 IP trip - right click this link to download them. I also created a KML file you can use with Google Earth that marks all of the waypoints.

Denis Dwyer kindly supplied these GPS coordinates for his overnight stays during his 2007/2008 trips up the Inside Passage. Right click to save as a tab delimited text file, GPX file or Google Earth KML file. (Keep in mind a few of these coordinates are for lodging accommodations in populated places and not tent sites. They should be apparent.)

And as a follow-up, here are Denis' campsite locations from his 2012 trip (be sure to check out his new book):


Bellingham Washington - Launch Site 48° 43.135 N x 122° 30.947 W
Matia Island - Rolfe Cove 48° 44.864 N x 122° 50.542 W
Patos Island - Active Cove 48° 47.043 N x 122° 57.718 W
British Columbia

South Pender Island - Beaumont Park 48° 45.269 N x 123° 14.459 W
Wallace Island - Conover Cove 48° 56.303 N x 123° 32.655 W
DeCourcy Island - Pirates Cove 49° 05.640 N x 123° 43.564 W
Nanaimo - Newcastle Island Park 49° 10.982 N x 123° 55.606 W
Southey Island 49° 16.611 N x 124° 06.277 W
Vancouver Island, Qualicum River Campground 49° 23.903 N x 124° 36.618 W
Sandy Island 49° 37.093 N x 124° 51.055 W
Vancouver Island - Kitty Coleman Park 49° 47.290 N x 124° 59.715 W
Vancouver Island - Kuhushan Point 49° 52.921 N x 125° 06.921 W
Campbell River - Thunderbird Campground 50° 02.453 N x 125° 14.924 W
Quadra Island - Ashlar Creek 50° 16.040 N x 125° 21.311 W
Vancouver Island - Little Bear Bay 50° 20.301 N x 125° 31.028 W
Sayward - Kelsey Bay 50° 23.839 N x 125° 57.695 W
Vancouver Island - Naka Creek 50° 28.645 N x 126° 25.660 W
Flower Island 50° 36.022 N x 126° 42.342 W
Broughton Island - Dobbin Bay 50° 47.081 N x 126° 48.222 W
BC Mainland - Boyles Point 50° 49.061 N x 127° 01.077 W
BC Mainland - Shelter Bay 50° 58.610 N x 127° 27.633 W
Bramham Island - Skull Cove 51° 02.852 N x 127° 33.778 W
BC Mainland - Burnett Bay 51° 06.300 N x 127° 40.373 W
BC Mainland Open Bight 51° 21.978 N x 127° 46.192 W
Fury Island 51° 29.138 N x 127° 45.694 W
Hecate Island Kelpie Point 51° 43.539 N x 128° 00.457 W
Hunter Island - Cultus Sound 51° 53.817 N x 128° 14.103 W
Denny Island - Shearwater 52° 08.850 N x 128° 05.343 W
Roar Islet 52° 17.181 N x 128° 23.075 W
Price Island - Higgins Passage 52° 28.519 N x 128° 45.328 W
Milne Island 52° 36.764 N x 128° 46.250 W
Sager Island 52° 53.995 N x 129° 09.105 W
Campania Island 53° 03.026 N x 129° 26.865 W
Pitt Island - Monckton Inlet 53° 18.232 N x 129° 40.853 W
Pitt Island - Mink Trap Point 53° 27.009 N x 129° 51.772 W
McCauley Island - Petrel Channel Elbow 53° 42.481 N x 130° 11.709 W
Porcher Island - Oona River 53° 57.052 N x 130° 15.795 W
Kitson Island 54° 10.724 N x 130° 18.816 W
Prince Rupert - Rowing and Yacht Club (PRRYC) 54° 19.154 N x 130° 19.079 W
South Island 54° 29.166 N x 130° 27.921 W
Proctor Island 54° 43.109 N x 130° 35.737 W


Alaska Mainland - Tree Point 54° 48.159 N x 130° 55.525 W
Kah Shakes Island 55° 03.401 N x 130° 59.457 W
Revillagigedo Island - Cone Point 55° 14.126 N x 131° 17.843 W
Ketchikan - Bar Harbor 55° 21.094 N x 131° 41.026 W
Revillagigedo Island - Point Higgins 55° 27.602 N x 131° 57.475 W
Alaska mainland -island off Caamano Point 55° 30.274 N x 131° 57.475 W
Alaska mainland - Meyers Chuck 55° 44.386 N x 132° 15.329 W
Change Island 55° 58.466 N x 132° 00.513 W
Turn Island 56° 14.290 N x 132° 20.288 W
Wrangell Harbor 56° 27.990 N x 132° 22.967 W
Mitkof Island - Crab Pot 56° 40.822 N x 132° 39.926 W
Petersburg Harbor 56° 48.789 N x 132° 57.556 W
Alaska mainland - Wood Point 56° 59.555 N x 132° 56.977 W
Read Island 57° 06.228 N x 133° 11.637 W
Alaska mainland - Cape Fanshaw 57° 11.160 N x 133° 34.342 W
Island in Hobart Bay 57° 25.661 N x 133° 28.019 W
Alaska mainland - Sand Bay 57° 40.685 N x 133° 39.707 W
Alaska mainland - Point Anmer 57° 55.934 N x 133° 50.710 W
Alaska mainland - Taku Inlet 58° 10.603 N x 134° 03.959 W
Juneau - Aurora Harbor 58° 18.285 N x 134° 25.965 W
Auke Bay - Campground 58° 22.660 N x 134° 43.473 W
Alaska mainland - Point Bridget 58° 40.708 N x 134° 59.144 W
Alaska mainland - Bay Southeast of Eldred Rock 58° 56.355 N x 135° 10.458 W
Haines - Oceanside Campground 59° 14.109 N x 135° 26.488 W
Skagway - Pullen Creek Campground 59° 27.033 N x 135° 19.001 W

In addition to the above, I highly recommend checking out the West Coast Paddler forum devoted to BC Marine Trail campgrounds. Photos, coordinates and descriptions of some great camp sites.

(I'm always looking to expand this section, so if you have GPS coordinates you'd like to share, let me know.)


This section contains miscellaneous thoughts and notes on gear, equipment and various pieces of kit.

First off, read the trip reports and blogs mentioned above. There's a wealth of practical information on gear and equipment. Denis Dwyer, for example, has extensive comments relating to IP-suitable gear.


I think just about anything that floats has been used to do all or part of the Inside Passage. While kayaks seem to be the vessel of choice these days, a whole lot of canoes and rowboats have successfully made the journey both ways in the past.


Two words. Kokatat, Goretex. Enough said.


The Icom M88 is kind of the gold standard VHF radio for kayak use. Small, rugged, waterproof and full featured, it easily clips to a PFD. If you shop around and use an Internet retailer (I like and then time your purchase with an Icom rebate, it's possible to get the radio for right around $200. Remember to get a AA battery pack, unless you're planning on overnighting at strategic places to charge the lithium ion battery pack. Also, keep in mind that when the AA battery pack is installed, the radio isn't fully waterproof. Either use a dry bag or swap in the AA pack when using the radio on land, so you conserve power in the Li-ion pack while on the water. Note - Radios suck juice quite a bit more when you're transmitting compared to receiving. I've used Icoms for years, but my next radio may be a Standard Horizon. The company is offering some cool products such as a floating handheld that has GPS and DSC (Digital Selective Calling - a spiffy way for the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard to know you're in trouble and where - I reviewed a couple of DSC/GPS handhelds in an article for Sea Kayaker magazine.).

Related to radio are PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) that send a help message with your coordinates to a search and rescue satellite. I'll be writing more about these in the near future. In the meantime, head over to Doug Ritter's most excellent Equipped To Survive Web site for more info on PLBs and SPOT.

I'm doing some tests with handheld crank radios that support weather channels. These radios feature a rechargeable internal battery you keep powered by cranking - handy for conserving batteries batteries on your VHF while on land. Look for more info in future.


I'm doing some field testing of the Solio solar charger to keep rechargeable AA batteries and various devices powered up. The Solio is unique as it combines a solar charger with an internal battery. Although not waterproof, the device could be stowed in a small dry bag and kept lashed to the aft deck for charging during the day. Since the Solio has an internal battery, you could charge your devices in the evening at camp, then recharge the Solio during the day when you're paddling.


I remember my first paddling trip to Alaska in the 1980s and toting a friend's heavy and expensive Nikonos dive camera with me. Things have changed a bunch since then, and the past year or so has seen the waterproof digital camera market really start to expand. If you're shopping for a kayak and water-friendly camera, be sure to check out this in-depth review of the latest models at Digital Photography Review.


A friend of mine with lots of experience guiding, teaching sea kayaking, and expedition paddling swears by NOLS Cookery. If you're planning the minimalist Ramen food route, this book can change your mind. You dial in how many people and how many days, and it helps you figure out caloric requirements and food quantities. Instead of planning individual meals, you bring quantities of staples and prepare good for you, yummy recipes.

Food "maildrops" -  Maildrop care packages are fairly common in the long distance, thru hiking world (see a great forum post oriented to the Appalachian Trail, but also applicable to the IP). BC Rimbeaux used food drops during his 2007 IP trip. Before leaving here's what he had to say:

I've decided to give the mail system a try. One Customs official gave me some instructions that should help my
cause, such as:
- Make as complete a list as possible of the contents on the Declaration form.
- Write on the boxes that they are being mailed to a US citizen for personal use.
- Attach a letter to Customs that explains the circumstances (kayak trip, food re-supplies, etc.) of the trip.
Include in the letter to Customs a copy of my passport photo page and a more complete list of the contents of the boxes.

I'll let you know when my trip finishes how it worked. Keep your fingers crossed.

After he completed his trip, BC sent this update:

The food drops went without a hitch. Every box arrived in time at the P.O. I sent them to. A couple boxes showed signs of having been opened, but nothing looked disturbed inside so I think the Customs guys just gave them a cursory look.

I recommend doing what I did in terms of listing all the foods, attaching the letter to Customs, etc. I think the more out front and complete you are in your descriptions, the less likely Customs would suspect a problem with the packages.


Charts are a big deal for the prospective Inside Passage paddler, and you've got a bunch of different options for what type to use on your trip. Here's a brief rundown.

Traditional paper nautical charts (check out the classifieds for some charts I'm selling)

To provide complete coverage between Sidney, BC (or the US San Juan Islands) and Prince Rupert via the main route through Seymour Narrows, you'll need 23 Canadian, paper nautical charts. This is a mixture of 1:40,00 and 1:80,000 scale charts that provide a decent amount of detail (click here to see the difference between 1:40,000 and 1:80:000 US charts to give you a better idea). Canadian charts are 20 bucks (Canadian) a pop. With the current US exchange rate, that means you're going to need to drop over $450 to get outfitted. Add on another 2 US charts for the waters between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan (which also cost around $20 US), and you're now up to around $500. Keep in mind this is for a minimal amount of charts that provide good navigational coverage. There are additional charts available of some areas that such more detail (such as 1:20:000 scale) that can optionally be purchased to provide full coverage of the route. (Don't forget about copies of Chart 1 for both Canada and the US so you know what the symbols mean. The previous links are for PDF versions, but it's not a bad idea to also have paper copies along for the trip.)

Keep in mind that these charts are pretty big, and you'll need dry storage for the ones you're not using as well as a waterproof map case on deck for wherever you're located.

The Canadian Hydrographic Service has an online chart catalog as does NOAA for US waters. In addition to these online resources, chart agents usually stock free paper catalogs that list all available charts. These are in the form of a very large chart, with chart numbers clearly associated with rectangular regions. I find these master charts much easier to use than their online cousins. If you don't live in Washington, BC or Alaska, and have easy access to a chart agent, a number of online retailers will send you a copy of the free master charts. I personally like the Armchair Sailor in Seattle for Internet service. Bellingham Chart Printers is also another good source for original and reproduced charts.

Note: In Kayaking the Inside Passage, Robert Miller mentions that Armchair Sailor offers "chart portfolios," which are full-size, black and white reproductions of charts at half the normal price. This is a bit misleading, since Canadian charts, which account for the bulk of the IP, are not available due to copyright restrictions.

Digital nautical charts

What about digital charts and just printing out what you need? That's possible for US parts of the route, since you can freely download electronic charts and then use free programs like OpenCpn, Maptech's Chart Navigator or SeaClear II to print them out. Or better and easier yet, download PDF BookletCharts. However, since the bulk of the trip is in Canadian waters, you'll need to buy two Canadian Hydrographic Service chart CDs to provide enough coverage for the trip, East Vancouver Island and Queen Charlotte Sound. These CDs run about $175 US a piece (down from $299 when NDI was running the show). Unfortunately the Canadian government doesn't distribute their electronic maps for free like the US. So you'll be investing around $350 US for the digital charts. (An anonymous IP paddler who goes by the handle of Edward Teach wrote in to mention that a full set of circa-1997, pre-copy protected Canadian BSB charts are floating around the Internet if you're into modern day, hi-tech piracy.)

Navionics has free online access to their charts here.

Don't forget to toss in the price of waterproof paper and printer ink, plus the time involved in printing the areas you want. (Waterproof inkjet and laser printer paper runs anywhere between .20 to .80 US a sheet, depending on size and type.) For more on do-it-yourself charts, check out this article I wrote for Sea Kayaker magazine.

Jonathan Francis posted a very descriptive blog entry on his experiences using Marine GeoGarage. This has to be the cheapest legal way of getting Canadian nautical charts for the IP. It cost him $194 for all of the Canadian charts; and included in that price was a $175 printer. I highly recommend you read more about this options if you're thinking about do-it-yourself charts. Thanks Jonathan, and best of luck on your stand-up paddleboard trip.

Marine Atlases

A marine atlas is a spiral bound collection of reduced in size charts. Designed to be a handy and economical alternative to full-sized charts, marine atlases are popular with cruising sailors. In addition to the charts, the atlases also contain photos or ports and other information. There are two brands of atlases that a kayaker might consider for an IP trip that can substantially reduce the hit on your wallet (or purse) compared to a full set of paper charts. 

John Kimantas, author of the excellent Wild Coast series, recently (August 2007) released two new marine atlases especially designed for paddlers. BC Coastal Recreation Kayaking and Small Boat Atlas: Volume 1, British Columbia's South Coast and East Vancouver Island and BC Coastal Recreation Kayaking and Small Boat Atlas: Volume 2, British Columbia's West Vancouver Island. Splash-proof and spiral bound, in 1:100:000-scale, these volumes appear quite useful.

Marine Atlas - This two volume set has been published for over 55 years and comes in a 11 1/2" x 14" format. I've got an older copy of the Puget Sound to Port Hardy volume and the monochrome charts are pretty darn small and a challenge to read. I haven't had an opportunity to see if the newer versions are different (where I live is landlocked and marine suppliers are a bit of a drive), but if they're not, I personally think using from a kayak cockpit wouldn't be that easy. Around $50 a volume (59 and 63 charts, respectively).

Evergreen Pacific Cruising Atlas - Covers the area between Olympia and Port Hardy (21 overview and 85 detailed charts) in a 11" x 17" book, these charts are in color and are larger and easier to read than those found in the competing Marine Atlas. I think this atlas would be usable for an IP trip in place of standard charts. Unfortunately there's not a companion volume for the Port Hardy to SE Alaska leg of the trip. $49.95.

Before you buy, I'd recommend checking out an atlas in person to see if it's going to meet your needs, in terms of detail and readability.

Note: Atlases and any non-official charts usually have a disclaimer that says "not for navigation." Theoretically (and legally if you're involved in a commercial marine activity) you're only supposed to use the most recently updated versions of official government charts for navigation. The disclaimer is kind of a CYA on the part of publishers in case someone does something stupid and blames their chart.

GPS (this section is really, really old and needs to be updated. Some information may still may be of use)

How about a GPS receiver loaded up with maps and charts to do the full IP? It's certainly possible. I wrote the book GPS for Dummies (be sure to get the second edition that came out in October 2008, it's much more up to date and has information on marine use of GPS), so have more than a few opinions on this subject.

For starters, always remember the downsides of using GPS for kayak navigation:

  • Battery powered, so be sure to bring lots of AAs.
  • Small screen can sometimes show too much detail, especially with the nautical charts, and not give you a big enough picture of a large section of the route.
  • If water accidentally gets in the case during a battery change or if the case isn't sealed properly (especially on models that support memory cards), there's a good chance the unit will fail.
  • If the receiver breaks, gets lost, or there's a Carrington Event-type solar flare and you're relying on GPS as your sole navigation source, you're sunk (maybe literally).

The prudent mariner never relies on a single navigation tool. Catch my drift? I consider some type of paper map as well as a compass (and knowing how to use both) essential.

That said, here's my take on the current players in the handheld, outdoor GPS receiver market plus a few product recommendations:

DeLorme - new kid on the block in the handheld GPS market - excellent customer support and very responsive to suggestions - can upload topo maps, NOAA nautical charts and aerial imagery - the new PN-40 is much improved over the first generation PN-20 but still has a smallish screen and connection contacts need cleaning after saltwater exposure. Update - Garmin bought DeLorme, mostly for its InReach satellite communicator technology.
Garmin - the 800 pound gorilla of the industry, lots of products to choose from - stay away from brand new releases until bugs have been fixed in subsequent firmware releases (usually a couple of months following initial availability).
Lowrance - great products that match or beat Garmin features at a lower price and support for Navionics nautical chart chips - no street routing capability, map availability not as extensive as Garmin, interface takes some getting used to.
Magellan - doesn't have the best reputation for customer support, recent products have been buggy. Consumer products division was recently purchased by Mio and we'll see where that goes.

As much as I like the Lowrance and DeLorme products (and dislike the near monopoly lock Garmin has on the industry), I still have to give the nod to Garmin when it comes to recommending a GPS receiver for using on an IP trip. My reasons include:

  • Lots of U.S. and Canadian maps and charts available (free and commercial)
  • Excellent battery life
  • Most intuitive user interface
  • Durability and proven track record (with certain models)
  • Lots of opportunities for user-based support in various Web forums (if you don't get an answer out of Garmin)

While any of the AA battery, color-screen Garmin GPS mapping models will work, my two current favorite (and very dated but still work) models for kayak use are:

Garmin GPSMAP 60Cx - From doing wilderness search and rescue for a bunch of years, this model is the gold standard. It's functional and it just works (on the land or water). Decent-sized screen, high-sensitivity GPS receiver, microSD card so you can load topo maps and marine charts, and priced in the $250 to $300 range. The CSx model has an electronic compass and barometric altimeter, that will cost you about $50 more. Garmin has released newer models designed to eventually replace the venerable 60 series, but I'm not personally sold quite yet. The Colorado model's screen has problems in bright sunlight. And I think the jury is still out on kayak use of the newest touch-screen Oregon model. An alternative would be the marine-oriented GPSMAP 76Cx or CSx. The screen is a tiny bit bigger, it floats and is in the same price range as the 60 series.

Garmin eTrex Legend HCx - Smaller screen and case than the GPSMAP 60 series makes this a true pocket GPS receiver. 24+ hour battery life, microSD card support for loading maps and charts, high-sensitivity GPS chipset, and a street price of around $190 (and falling). The eTrex Vista is a more pricier version of the Legend with an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. While the barometer can be useful for weather forecasting, I prefer the less expensive Legend as it gets better battery life.

Once you have a Garmin GPS, you'll want to load it up with maps and charts. You have two alternatives for an IP trip - topographic maps or nautical charts (or if you have a deep-pockets sponsor, you can install both on a memory card). 

The topo maps to consider are:

TOPO United States - $116.65 (1:100,000 scale - can be loaded on multiple GPS receivers without purchasing additional unlock codes - street price around $85). There is a TOPO U.S. 24K West product ($129.99 retail) with1:24,000 maps which provide much more detail than 1:100,000 scale. Unfortunately this map set currently doesn't include Alaska, so don't buy it.

TOPO Canada - $151.65 (1:100,000 scale - can be loaded on multiple GPS receivers without purchasing additional unlock codes - street price around $115). Click here and then select the Topo Canada product to see the level of detail these maps provide.

Quite honestly, you can get just as good if not better free, Garmin-compatible US and Canada topo maps. See the Free Information Sources above for more details.

For nautical charts, you'll want BlueChart Americas. This product has multiple nautical charts (called regions) on a CD-ROM. When you buy it ($151.65 suggested retail, street price around $110), you get a certificate to unlock one region. If you want to load other regions into your GPS unit, you need to purchase additional unlock codes from Garmin (at $116.65 retail a pop, street price around $85). You'll need up to six regions for the entire IP route. As you can see, this isn't a cheap proposition. (Here are links to the Garmin charts for the entire IP - Region US023-Seattle (Puget Sound), Region CA001-Inside Passage, Region CA010-Hecate Strait South, Region CA011 -Hecate Strait North, Region US024-Wrangell to Dixon Entrance, and Region US026-Wrangell-Juneau-Sitka.) Unfortunately, at the present no free nautical chart alternatives exist. (6/13/2009 - Garmin has recently announced they won't be updating their BlueChart CD-ROM products. They've moved to the new G2 Vision series of nautical charts which come preinstalled on memory cards and are compatible with newer model Garmin GPS units. Since landforms don't change much, I'd personally be comfortable using the older CD-ROM version of BlueChart Americas. The benefits are you can display the charts on your PC and print them or use for planning plus you can transfer the charts to multiple GPS units, as long as you purchase additional unlocks. If your GPS unit accidentally floods, there's a very good chance the SD card will fry. With the CD-ROM version of BlueChart, you can always just upload the chart set to a new card or the GPS unit's internal memory. With a G2 card, you're out the price of a new replacement if it fries or you lose it. Be sure to check compatibility , since some Garmin models will only work with BlueChart and others with G2.

Garmin has traditionally been very proprietary with their map formats. However recently they've begin to support the ability for users to create and use their own custom maps. If you have a compatible Garmin Colorado, Oregon or Dakota you can view a map that's been saved as a JPG file (such as a scanned paper map) on your GPS unit. The steps to do this are quite simple and don't require you to purchase additional software. You can read all about it here. This offers some interesting possibilities in having nautical charts on your GPS receiver that look identical to the paper versions. It's relatively easy to convert NOAA RNC digital charts to JPG format. Unfortunately, Canadian versions of RNCs are copy protected and you'd have to do some time consuming hacks with virtual printer software to create JPGs. The downsides to using scanned custom maps/charts (aside from the time it takes to produce them) are screen refreshes tend to be slower and you don't have the ability to zoom in and out with the graphics becoming jagged or distorted. In any case, this is a nice move on Garmin's part.

I'll close this brief discussion with a final thought. I'm an old-school proponent of the "two is one, one is none" rule when it comes to essential gear. If you're planning on relying on a GPS receiver for extended trip navigation, if it fits into your budget, I highly recommend carrying a backup GPS unit in case something happens to your primary.

Paper topographic maps

In his book, Kayaking the Inside Passage, Robert Miller suggests using 1:250,000 scale topographic paper maps. You can get up the Canadian part of the route using 11 Canadian topo maps of this scale. These maps run about $10 US and are readily available from Internet retailers ( is a good source). I personally think this scale doesn't show enough detail for decent navigation, but if you're going on the cheap, it's better than nothing.

Keep in mind the primary limitation to using topographic maps is they are created for land-users. That means no symbols identifying tide rips, beach composition, current direction, aids to navigation, and other marine-related features typically found on nautical charts. Paddlers and rowers have successfully used topo maps for traveling up and down the Inside Passage though.

Digital topographic maps

Bob Saunders, who did the Vancouver to Prince Rupert leg in 2005 and other parts of the IP in following years, writes in with a suggestion to use digital topographic maps. He used the eTopo topo maps and printed the areas he needed on plain paper. He carefully tucked the maps he needed in a Ziploc bag each day and managed never to get any of the paper wet during the trip. The eTopo maps retail for $99 Canadian for a region (you'll need the Southwest and Central), so for under $200 you can have 1:50,000 scale maps of all of the Canadian waters for the trip. Add in the ink and paper and this is a pretty reasonable investment. For more information, check out Dave Patton's excellent Web page that compares different types of commercially available Canadian digital topographic maps.

I asked Bob more about using the digital topo maps and he kindly replied with some very useful details:

"I printed 3 different sizes of maps (on ordinary 8 x11 paper): 1:250,000 for an overview; 1:50,000 covering about 16 x 22 km and another 1:50,000 set covering about 8 x 11 km. I'm not certain of the exact number of maps I printed as I gave some to Graham afterwards and have seemed to have misplaced some others, but I believe it was about 30 of the 8 x 11 km maps for the Gulf Islands to Campbell River section, about 55 for the Vancouver to Port Hardy section and about 100 for the remainder of the trip to Prince Rupert. Perhaps half that again for the smaller scale maps. I used less than two cartridges of ink (HP 932 printer). So, I'm guessing the total cost was about $280 to $300 Can (maps plus ink). I printed more maps than I needed because I didn't have a fixed route in mind when I started the trip - there are all kinds of variations possible, so I tried to have enough maps to cover some of those variations. I found that was all I needed."

Both the US and Canadian governments make digital versions of topo maps available for free (see the Free Information Resources above). You can view and print the maps with any graphics program or use reasonably priced/free mapping programs like Ozi Explorer, MacGPS, or dlgv32 to view and access georeferenced data in the maps for planning (measuring distances, creating waypoints, etc.).

I just learned about a cool online company called that allows you to create custom Canadian topo maps. Using a Web interface you move around, zooming in and out to define a map's area. A set of tools allows you to add text labels, lines and points to the map. When you're finished you can buy a downloadable 8.5 x 11" PDF file of the map for $2.99 or order a large, printed poster version. This map service is pretty quick and convenient and may appeal to some IP paddlers.

Truthful Disclaimer - If you click on some of the above book or gear (GPS/software) links and then order whatever from Amazon, I get a teeny, tiny proceed from the sale. I'm not pimping books and gear, just trying to create a comprehensive IP reference.