Ketchikan’s waterfront saw two momentous occasions on Tuesday.
One was the mid-afternoon arrival of Team Pure & Wild at the finish bell in Thomas Basin to win the 2022 Race to Alaska.
Congratulations to Team Pure & Wild’s Jonathan McKee, Matt Pistay and Alyosha Strum-Palerm for a resounding win aboard their 44-foot Riptide monohull — finishing more than 225 miles ahead of their closest competitors.
We’re looking forward to greeting other R2AK participants as they sail, paddle and/or pedal their wind- and human-powered watercraft into Ketchikan over the next several days. Each finishing team will have a story to tell about how they completed the 750-mile distance between Port Townsend, Washington, and Alaska’s First City. And we’re thrilled that they’ve had the opportunity to do so.
This 2022 edition of R2AK is the first since 2019, and is returning after a pandemic-related hiatus. Our congratulations and thanks go to the participants, organizers, sponsors, volunteers and other support folks for bringing this event back to Ketchikan.
The other occasion of note was the southbound departure of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Matanuska from Ketchikan late Wednesday afternoon. Its destination was Prince Rupert, British Columbia, the original southern terminus of the state ferry system and a port that hadn’t seen AMHS service since late 2019.
The reasons for the suspension of service can not be attributed to the pandemic. Suffice it to say that its absence has hurt, and we’re glad that issues have been resolved to the point that a return to a limited service on the approximately 90-mile route between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert is possible.
When we say limited, that’s the optimistic term. Six roundtrips this summer on a route that once had twice-weekly service isn’t much by comparison — but, for now, it’s something. And that something already has opened up travel options and opportunities to and from Ketchikan that have been sorely missed. We hope that as many people and companies make great use of the few voyages scheduled this summer, setting the stage for the return of a more-robust level of service in the near future.
So, yes, there were (at least) two great occasions on the Ketchikan waterfront on Wednesday. May they be the frontrunners of more great things ahead from R2AK and AMHS.