Learn to Cruise – The Canadian Inside Passage to Alaska


Learn How to Navigate the Canadian Inside Passage

Have you always wanted to cruise the Canadian Inside Passage but been too intimidated to try? Are you worried about not having enough knowledge or experience? Want to take your own boat, but are a little apprehensive about the challenges? Do you want to see it first, under the watchful eyes of an experienced captain, before you go by yourself?

Then the Learn to Cruise–Inside Passage to Alaska is the perfect educational trip for you. You’ll learn how to navigate challenging passages, see numerous anchorages, experience the crossings and participate in the planning that goes into a long voyage, so you’ll feel confident doing it on your own. We’ll also cover boating safety and navigation rules, known as “The Rules of the Road.” This knowledge and experience translates well to every area of your boating, both on powerboats and on sailboats, making you more confident in your seamanship.

We offer two of these one-way 12-day training trips annually. Both of our boater education cruises run approximately 690 nautical miles of the Inside Passage between northern Washington state, British Columbia, Canada, and the southern panhandle of Alaska.

The northbound trip departs from Bellingham, WA and you will fly home from Ketchikan, AK. On the southbound  you’ll join the ship in Ketchikan, AK and disembark in Bellingham, WA. The Learn to Cruise — Inside Passage to Alaska trips follow our  12-Day Canadian Inside Passage Itinerary. As with all of our trips, everything from embarkation to disembarkation during the cruise is included, including all of chef Christine’s amazing cooking, beautiful scenery, and plenty of time to relax. This trip is great for regular guests as well, who want to enjoy all the scenery and nature-based activities of our standard cruises, but are not interested in learning to cruise.

These voyages are equally great for couples who cruise together as well as solo sailors. One of the topics that will be covered will be “effective crew communication” which includes both giving commands as well as listening. Operating a vessel can be much more enjoyable when it’s approached as a team, and teamwork will be emphasized in all aspects of our instruction.

Each day will include formal class time, several informal lessons and lots of time at the helm for anyone interested. (It’s approximately 100 hours underway over the 12 days of the voyage.) The trip won’t be all work and no play, however. There will be lots of time for occasional shore excursions, hiking and kayaking for anyone interested. Also, for spouses, friends or family, who would like to travel along, there’s no requirement to participate in any of the classes.

Captain Jeffrey has more than 20 years of experience operating various types and sizes of vessels professionally along with teaching others about everything from seamanship to engine maintenance. His style of teaching revolves around the premise that students should be able to experience things on their own to learn them, in an environment that makes them feel comfortable. There is never any confrontation, or embarrassment of students and they get to learn at their own pace, not that of the group.

In the video below, Captain Jeffrey takes the David B through Jackson Narrows in Canada’s Inside Passage. It’s places like this that you’ll learn to confidently and safely navigate these types of channels. The background sound is from the David B’s original 1929 engine, a Washington Iron Works three-cylinder.

Visit our schedule page for dates and availability

What you’ll learn on a our 12-day Learn to Cruise–Inside Passage to Alaska:

    • Passage Planning
      • Voyage Planning, Preparation and Provisioning
      • Important Documents
      • Spares and extra equipment
    • Navigation and Electronics
      • Charts and Plotters
      • Chart Navigation
      • Tides and Currents
      • Fuel Management
      • Tidal Rapids
    • Operations and Seamanship
      • Anchoring Techniques-Standard techniques and unusual situations
      • Docking and Maneuvering
      • Marinas
      • Stowing Gear for Sea
      • Weather-getting information and reading conditions
      • Rules of the Road
      • Traffic
      • Radios and AIS
      • Radar
      • Logbooks
    • Crew
      • Assigning Jobs
      • Communication
      • Spouses and Significant Others
    • Safety at Sea
      • Personal Safety
      • Emergencies
      • Man Overboard
      • Engine Room Safety
    • Systems
      • Trouble Shooting
      • Channeling your inner MacGyver
    • Legal
      • Customs Immigration and the Borders
    • Licenses and Tonnage Rules
    • And much more…

Customer Comments About Our Learn to Cruise – Inside Passage to Alaska Trip

• …having wanted to take this trip for years, I grabbed my duffel and joined Jeffrey and Christine on a piece of maritime history, headed from Bellingham to Alaska. While Christine’s gourmet diners outshone any restaurants I frequent, my main mission was to gain the knowledge to safely traverse those water in my own boat someday.

• Jeffrey’s professional, calm, precise guidance, with various types of docking, and understanding of the planning needed to safely time the passages through tidal rapids, left me with a heightened confidence that I could one day do the same.

• Have you ever had the desire to cruise the Inside Passage? If you don’t have a boat, then you should be on the David B. If you want to go in your own boat, you should first take the trip on the David B. You will spend time at the helm, steering, monitoring, and experiencing. You will take important notes, document safe waterways, and anchor in pristine inlets.

If you want the confidence to make this passage, grab a chart book and get on board.  –   J. from Bellingham, Owner of a 42′ Nova Sundeck


The small group size (limited to just eight students/guests) makes the M/V David B the perfect learning environment. (We can all fit on the bridge if necessary.) There is plenty of time to answer questions and give each person the time to learn new things at their own pace. We love teaching!

Course Materials: ($200 additional fee to cover the cost of materials)

  • Marine Atlas Vols. 1 & 2
  • COLREGS

Things you’ll need to bring:

  • Passport – Required
  • Binoculars
  • Dividers
  • Parallels or plotting triangles
  • Calculator
  • Float coat or inflatable PFD (optional)

Check out our reviews, look at our photo galleries, then give us a call at 877-670-7863 or send us an email to sign up. It’ll give your confidence an amazing boost.