When It Rains…

Princess Cruises' Crown Princess passes Star Princess on the afternoon of June 25, 2015 on a wet, rainy Ketchikan day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess passes Star Princess on the afternoon of June 25, 2015 on a wet, rainy Ketchikan day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Thursday, June 25, 2015

On the pier in Ketchikan, Alaska, there’s a very noticeable installation located adjacent to the second berth, directly across from the splashy sign hung over the spot where Front and Mission Streets intersect. The sign proclaims that Ketchikan is “The Salmon Capital of the World”, but the device mounted to the side of the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau building indicates Ketchikan is famous for something besides salmon: its annual rainfall.

Ketchikan's famous sign...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Ketchikan’s famous sign…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...and equally-famous rainfall gauge! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…and equally-famous rainfall gauge! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The city of Ketchikan gets about 150 inches (3,810 mm) of rain each year, and in recent years it has been flirting with the 200 inch (5080 mm) mark. To put that in perspective, Vancouver’s average annual rainfall is but 43.98 inches (1117.2 mm), and Seattle gets even less, at 38 inches, or 965.2 mm. Seattle’s rainforest climate is well-documented, and Vancouver’s wintery rainfall earns it the nickname “Wetcouver” despite the fact that Ketchikan gets three times the rainfall of Vancouver on an average year.

Star Princess had prime docking space in Ketchikan this morning, tying up at Berth 1 - just steps from the heart of the city. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Star Princess had prime docking space in Ketchikan this morning, tying up at Berth 1 – just steps from the heart of the city. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

So, it is perhaps no surprise that when Princess Cruises’ Star Princess came alongside this morning, it wasn’t just raining: it was absolutely pouring. Joining the rain in an atmospheric menage-a-trois was a strong, gusting wind that rushed along the Tongass Narrows and slammed into the ship from the stern quarter, racing through the streets and bringing sheets of rain down on the city that reminded me of footage of hurricanes in Florida during the summer months. Add to that the damp, chilling temperatures that barely broke 50°F (10°C), and getting off the warm Star Princess began to look less and less appealing.

My excursion today took me just a block and a half from the ship...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

My excursion today took me just a block and a half from the ship…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. Note the Star Princess in the background. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

And yet, I was scheduled to do a very easy excursion today: a trip across the street to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. At $35 per person, it’s very affordable and very family-friendly. It also happens to be very fun; rather than descending into corniness (which, okay, it flirts with on occasion), it’s actually a very interesting spectacle and gives some insight into the raw skills required by the men that actually had to clear forests in Alaska.

Although it takes place in an outdoor amphitheatre, guests sit under a covered roof partition that is also equipped with overhead heaters that really do their job: after about five minutes there, I was already peeling my coat off despite the torrential rain that continued to fall, off and on, on the performers.

During the competition, both sides of the audience are pitted against each other. One side cheers for the Canadian team (Go Canada!) while the other cheers for the American side. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

During the competition, both sides of the audience are pitted against each other. One side cheers for the Canadian team (Go Canada!) while the other cheers for the American side. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Team Canada for the win! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Team Canada for the win! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Whoops...the log roll goes awry! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Whoops…the log roll goes awry! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report from Princess Cruises Denali Explorer CruiseTour continues tomorrow as we sail the Inside Passage! Read along by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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