May 21, 2015

Rough Landing in Wrangell

We finally boarded the ferry in Ketchikan during a dense fog alert.  We had decided early on that it would be wise to book a cabin since we would be traveling overnight.  We found our cabin, and it was freezing inside.  Unfortunately, we discovered that there was no way to change the thermostat.  I was so tired and cold that I slept in my clothes to try and stay warm.

The Cabin Was Serviceable, But Cold

A Foggy Welcome to Wrangell

When we docked in Wrangell, we were curious to check our refrigerator and battery monitor.  We had left the refrigerator on battery power as a test of our new batteries.  During the six to seven hours of the trip we had used less than ten percent of our power.  Great!  That solves the problem of what to do with our food when we have to shut off propane on future ferry segments.

Our elation over the refrigerator soon turned to despair as we exited the ferry.  Tim drove the RV up the steep ramp, and we heard a terrible noise when he crossed the lip of the ramp onto the pavement.  He pulled into a parking space, and we got out to assess the damage.  The tanks seemed to be ok, which was a relief, but the door to our utility compartment was jammed shut and would not open.  Great, just great.  Not what we wanted to deal with in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter).  We contacted the ferry personnel and informed them of the damage to our RV.  After a long wait, they began to fill out the paperwork.  We will have to file a claim with the State of Alaska, which should be a fun process.  NOT!

I Can't Believe the Lip Between the Ramp and Pavement Caused Such Damage

The manager of the Wrangell ferry terminal was extremely helpful.  Since we had no idea where we might be able to get a temporary fix in the tiny town of Wrangell, she called around, and John at Sitkine Auto Works told us to come right over.  Another terminal employee asked his friend to guide us to the shop, and we followed him through town.  We really appreciated the way in which these folks went out of their way to help us.

As John began to evaluate the damage, we knew we were in good hands.  There was more damage than we had originally suspected, and even the hinge was bent.  With a bit of brute force, many knocks with a hammer and a bit of Alaskan ingenuity, John had our door working.  It’s not pretty and the door will need to be replaced, but the fix should get us through the summer.  That’s important since that compartment is where our sewer hose and propane fill are located.  The most shocking thing is that John charged us only $50.  Many things may be more expensive in Alaska, but that was the lowest hourly rate we’ve ever paid for auto service. 

We Were in Good Hands Here

Why Won't the Door Open Any Farther?

It was early afternoon before we finally made it to our campground.  We are staying at Alaska Waters RV Park.  The campground is little more than a parking area for seven RVs, but it has full hookups and fast Wi-Fi and is nicely maintained.  There are even pots of pretty flowers at the base of each utility post.  Some of the other campgrounds in Wrangell may be more scenic, but this one serves our needs, especially since it is within walking distance of downtown.  An added bonus is that we were able to use an Alaska TourSaver coupon to get one free night.  A bald eagle also frequents a Sitka spruce tree next door.

All Alone at Alaska Waters RV Park

Alaska Waters is an Alaska Native business and is the same company that operates the Stikine River wilderness jet boat tour that we will be taking on Thursday.  A van will pick us up at the RV park and deliver us to the boat ramp.  It will be convenient not to have to move the RV and find parking downtown.


  1. Ouch! Glad the door could be made useable ... the cosmetic surgery can wait until you get back to the US. Oh wait, you're there already ... I guess I should say until you get back to the lower 48.

    1. Isn't is funny that we sometimes think of Alaska as a foreign country? Yes, we do plan to wait until we are back in Colorado for the surgery. There is too much to see in Alaska to be spending time in a body shop.

  2. Sorry to hear your troubles. I was looking at the exit ramp in your picture and it did not look that steep. Do you know what your clearance is. Our Sprinter is 7 and 1/2 inches.

    1. It was surprising to us that the ramp caused such damage. I'm not exactly sure what our clearance is, but I measured the low point below the storage compartment, and it was 7-1/2 inches - just like yours. We've never had any problems before, so we will just have to be extra careful on the ramps from now on.


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