Another quiet day at Sausalito anchorage – just a bit more wind and cooler since yesterday. There is a cold front approaching on Thursday and everybody is getting excited at the prospect of rain – apparently quite rare this time of year. Quite impressive watching the cloud coming off the ocean and building above Sausalito then cascading down into the town this morning.
Early today a Pelican was fishing by the boat. What an ungainly bird. First, he gets airborne with a great seemingly uncoordinated performance of feet and wings. Then circles around and drops like a bag of wet rags into the water beak first. I suppose Pelicans must catch fish but they don’t look very convincing, looks like pot luck fishing to me.
Later in the morning I took the rubber duck ashore – getting to be a routine. I was going to walk up to West Marine, quite a way up the road. The wind was building so I didn’t wander too far as it’s a wet ride in in any chop in the dinghy.
I downloaded another weather file, a strong cold front is hitting the coast on Thursday. Looks like there will be a weather window for departure on Friday following the front. I expect I will need to sail quite a way south to avoid the high pressure and calms sitting on my route.
Meanwhile – nothing much else happening. That’s good I suppose.
The trip was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the boat and the systems on board. In the early days of the trip I had to undertake a lot of maintenance as the boat hadn’t been in use full time. During the trip I suffered no major failures and am confident the boat is strongly built, sturdy and a capable offshore cruiser.
The Dickenson cabin heater was wonderful on cold nights as were the two oil lamps in the salon, without their warmth it would have been tough on cold wet days. Unfortunately, I was unable to get in any really consistent sailing for prolonged periods of time that is essential to really get a feel for the boat under sail. But the sailing I did showed the boat to be well balanced and able to steer with the wind vane self-steering quite easily. Not having a fridge on board was no problem in Alaska and BC, but I do worry how I will keep the beer cold when I venture into warmer climes.
A couple of people have asked me if I would do the Alaska trip again. The answer is a qualified no. I really enjoyed the experience, Alaska is an awesome place, wild rugged, scenic and spectacular and populated with some very interesting people. The people I met along the way were predominantly American and Canadian with a few other nationalities thrown in. The Alaskan people are very friendly, but there are quite a few who don’t really conform to mainstream America, characters, odd balls, eccentrics, or miss fits – call them what you will, but all were welcoming, generous and good fun.
An experience and adventure not to be missed and without the interaction of the local people the trip would have been merely a scenic cruise. Alaska is also a place that can be wet, windy, foggy and cold, it’s not a soft place for single handing a sail boat. As for wind, it tends to run up and down the channels and straits, a sailing boat usually has the wind on the nose according to sods law. Significant motoring is required to make any significant headway.
To get the most out of a trip by boat to Alaska a motorboat is preferable, many people use heavier displacement trawler type motor yachts where they can be sheltered from the elements and still have a good view of the outside world. It’s interesting to note that the people I met on motor boats reported more bear sightings than people on yachts. I think this was due to the fact that the motorboats had good views from protected environment when at anchor. A motor boat with a decent speed of around nine knots also makes passages between anchorages possible in a small weather window and allows strong tidal flows to be handled easier. So Alaska is a place not to me missed. Now there are so many other places calling and so little time.
Some facts and figures from the Alaska Voyages: –
Total distance – 2,753.7 miles (4,432Km)
Ports and anchorages – 97
Sailing time – 134 hours (non motor sailing)
Engine Hours – 563
Fuel Consumption – 764 Ltr (202 gals.)
Oil Changes – 3
Costs of living – NZ$35 per day
I will continue to post occasional blogs and updates throughout the year until I take off again in March on the next leg of the journey, south and west.