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Should We Stay or Should We Go

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

The imperfect art of balancing the desire to spend time in communities with the desire to keep moving.


At 7am on June 16th Sanesh, Jordan, and I are sitting in a diner in Ketchikan having breakfast and checking the weather.



“I’m seeing 17 gusting 36 this morning from the Southeast. It seems to calm down this afternoon, but not by much” says Sanesh.


“I’m not too worried by what I’m seeing in the forecast for today. We’re pretty protected and have the option to camp before any crossings”, I reply.


Then Jordan chimes in, “that campsite is only 12 miles away, so it might make more sense to just stay put and have a bigger day tomorrow.”


We sit and talk for nearly 30 minutes.  We are tired from a late night of celebration with the 'We Brake for Whales' sailing team. Groggy, but determined to come to a decision. Going back and forth about whether or not we would leave the comforts of the Ketchikan Yacht Club or stay here for another day. By the end of the conversation, we had committed to sticking around town and heading out first thing in the morning - aiming for a beach 32NM away.


We visited the Big House in Bella Bella on our ‘rest’ day there.

This seemed like the right decision - the safe choice - to wait out the Southerly winds and rain and prepare for a full day's paddle. This would also mark the third night we’d spent in Ketchikan; based out of the yacht club, the local diner, and the ‘We Brake For Whales’ sailboat. We’d made friends, we’d been invited to stay and participate in more events, we’d been sucked into the community life. We were also 62 days and ~800NM into our own 140-day (~1600NM) expedition up the coast and were eager to move Northward.

After getting our chores done in Port McNeill, we spent time writing postcards and drinking fancy drinks

The battle between staying and going is constant. Every few days we’re confronted with opportunities to stay in one place a little longer and experience a few more things. Every few days we realize we’re a bit further behind schedule and that we no longer have time for some of our planned detours. Every few days we discuss as a group what to do.


Being on an expedition of this magnitude without a rigid schedule and destination allows us a large amount of flexibility, but also forces us to confront our values, goals, and needs on a regular basis. We grappled with this dilemma on Lasqueti Island when we had the opportunity to spend a rest day in the sun at my family cabin, and at Alert Bay. when we felt compelled to spend another day in the community after the celebration, and in Bella Bella when we wanted more time preparing as a group after our day in the community, and in Prince Rupert, and in Port McNeill, and in Metlakatla BC, and in Lax Kw’alaams, and in Metlakatla AK, and now in Ketchikan…. There always seems to be as many great reasons to stay as there are to leave - so we discuss.

Celebrating the removal of fish farms from the Broughton Archipelago was an exceptional way to spend an unplanned rest day

Here are some of the important questions we ask ourselves to guide our process:

  • Is it safe to get on the water?

  • Is the the weather actually bad or are we just tired?

  • Are there ulterior motives for wanting to stay or leave?

  • How does this decision affect our broader plan?

  • Are we being honest with ourselves and each other about how we’re feeling?


I don’t know of any ways to avoid this ongoing dilemma, but maybe that's not the point. Maybe the solution is simply to continue asking ourselves these questions and having discussion. I hope there are some nuggets of information to be learned from our process. We will inevitably come across many more of these situations on the rest of our journey - so we will continue to discuss and move forward one decision at a time.


None of our progress would have been possible without dedicating ourselves to constant Northward paddling

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I don’t know how much the information I gave y‘all is helping out with your trip through SEAK, but I am glad to see you are getting good weather information, regardless! :) Stay safe!

- Tim (Metlakatla)

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