ALASKA is a state in the US, in the extreme NW portion of the North American continent – separated from Washington State by the Canadian Yukon Territory and British Columbia. To the south is the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean; to the west is the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea and to the north is the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean. It’s the largest state by area and also one of the wealthiest and most racially diverse. Alaska has more coastline than all the other US states combined – nearly 54,720 km (34,000 mi) of tidal shoreline.
The Aleutian Islands chain, with its many active volcanoes, extends west from the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula. South Central Alaska is the southern coastal region and contains most of the state’s population and contain Anchorage and many growing towns, such as Palmer and Wasilla. Southwest Alaska includes Katmai and Lake Clark national parks as well as numerous wildlife refuges.
The region comprises western Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay and its watersheds, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. It is known for wet and stormy weather, tundra landscapes and large populations of salmon, brown bears, caribou, birds, and marine mammals. In the Pacific Northwest the most popular cruising area is the San Juan Islands, an archipelago of some 200 islands, many of which have been declared wildlife reserves or marine parks.
Through Canadian waters, the Inside Passage linking Puget Sound to Alaska, is America’s ultimate cruising destination. It’s popular for superyachts to visit Alaska for the short summer season, either by taking the inside route, or making an offshore detour via the Hawaiian Islands. Note that there is a strict requirement for foreign superyachts to employ a pilot.
Captain’s Log: Cruising the West Coast of North America, Panama to Alaska