Ins and Outs of Alaska

Transportation: It's a long haul to reach the huge state of Alaska, and one way to get the most out of your visit is to combine a bareboat charter with some land travel, as we did. Both cars and RVs are convenient to rent in Anchorage. We found that even though we'd be sailing for a week once we drove to Seward, it made sense to hang on to the car for the duration of our stay. That way, we'd have it available in case we ended up harborbound by bad weather and wanted to do some local touring.

Weather: Even when it's officially summer, expect a changeable, late-fall climate and take a layered approach to clothing. Bring good foul-weather gear and boots that will allow you to get in and out of the dinghy without shipping cold water. The charter boats from Sailing Inc. are well equipped and set up with heaters, dodgers, and all the navigation equipment and galley gear it takes to enjoy life afloat. Calms are usual, so cruising boils down to either slow but delightful sailing or a decision to speed things up by motorsailing. Watch your fuel, though, and always leave an adequate supply to sprint to safe shelter if a big low threatens.

Packing: Those familiar with Caribbean bareboating may be tempted when packing to follow the old adage, "If you forgot it, you can do without it." But if you're planning to do some remote travel by car or boat, not having the right gear is far more serious. Pack efficiently, but keep unpredictable weather in mind when you consider what clothing and equipment to bring. We ended up taking four good-sized checked bags and used almost everything we brought.

Cameras: If you're serious about the pictures you take, multiple doses of airport X rays can spoil all your work. I like to mail my film to and from destinations. Better yet: Go digital, but make sure you back up your flash-card files.