HEADING SOUTH TO VICTORIA

This morning Ngozi departed Truce on her way back to New Zealand.  The Harbourmaster at Hoonah very generously gave her a lift up to the airport.  I am now alone again and have missed having company today.  And no, it’s not just to have help with the cooking and cleaning!

The voyage from Canoe Cove to Glacier Bay has been a great experience for me.  I have experienced rain, cold, headwinds, glorious days, calm nights, wildlife, interesting people and made new friends along the way.  Truce has proved to be a wonderful little boat, well built, comfortable, capable of looking after me and tolerating my mistakes.  The next voyage to the south will mean a bit of backtracking but I will try and avoid visiting previous stops.

I was a bit lazy this morning, probably a bit flat after Ngozi departing.  Eventually I managed to get off the dock and headed out into Icy Strait, still not sure what route to take south, only knowing I was heading east first.  Once I got into the Strait a westerly breeze picked up and I set all sail, so relaxing to be sailing and switch the motor off.  At the east end of Icy Strait, the wind shifted to the south, blowing up Clarence Strait.  My route was now decided, I was not going down Clarence Strait, I sailed up Lynn Canal with a good following breeze.  I will now head down Stephens Passage, into Frederick Sound and Wrangell Narrows.  This is all new territory for me.

The weather was very warm today with clear visibility.  I was sailing in just a pair of shorts in brilliant sunshine, sparking seas with vistas of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.  Magical.  There was a lot of boat traffic about today, fishing boats, sports boats, tourist boats, the most I have seen in Alaska.  Auke seems to be the centre for boating out of Juneau.

After sailing for seven hours today, mostly not too fast, I have anchored in Auke Bay for the evening.  In the anchorage there is another yacht, a French yacht also heading south.  The anchorage is a bit bumpy due to all the boat traffic passing by at high speed, also a bit noisy with 3 jet skis buzzing around and music coming from the shore.  This place looks like a holiday destination with nice homes doted along the shore line.  Total voyage distance 41.4 miles.

CHICHAGOF ISLAND

Many times when crossing the North Pacific by ship I have looked at the chart and wondered about Chichagof Island.  In my mind the name has a mystery and provokes thoughts of early Russian explores and traders.  Well, I am here now, although I have yet to set foot on its wet soggy ground.  All I have seen so far is mist, low cloud, a few thousand tress and lots of rain.

This morning I set out in the hope of a good sail up the coast, there was a small craft advisory issued with South Easterly winds, 25 knots.  The first hour was fine sailing and we had all sail set making good time.  Then the wind died and a lumpy sea from the quarter and swell from the beam made life unbearable, we had to motor as there was not enough wind to fill the sails.  Neither Truce or I like the sea from the stern quarter, she squirms and rolls and I hang on swearing at anything and everything.  Then it started raining in a fashion that inspired Noah to take up shipbuilding.

After a couple of hours in the blender we made smooth passage and chugged up, wet and bedraggled, to the anchorage for the night.  This is typical Alaska, two or three glorious days followed by a couple of shockers.  No sun again today.  It’s funny how the mind works, after a short time you forget the horrid days and just remember the good ones.

The whales made an appearance again today, one was breaching, coming out of the water vertically and then arching over onto its back.  It gave me quite a fright at first as I saw the splash ahead and thought we were running into breakers, we were running in-between breakers and rocks at the time.

Once at anchor I dried off and warmed up with a brew.  Then got to making some bread, a couple of hours later the cabin was warm and full of the smell of fresh bread, lovely.  I am anchored in Kimshan Cove on Chichagof island.  There are the remains of a jetty and some buildings on the shore, part of an abandoned gold mining venture on Dooth Mountain close by.  No sign of humans ashore now, just some deer feeding on the grass between the trees and water’s edge.

Tomorrow I will make an effort to get to White Sulphur Hot Springs.  A fisherman told me about them, supposed to be fantastic with a newly build cabin and hot pool.  The only access is by boat.  Entry into the anchorage is tricky and requires local knowledge but my fisherman friend says it’s not too bad and most of the rocks are visible.  Of course it’s the visible rocks that you don’t normally bump into!  I will plan my entry for low water.  Total voyage distance 1,284.7 miles.

Logged 26th June 2016

ARRIVAL SITKA

The sun rose this morning to perfect calm, water like a mirror and the mountains reflecting upside down.  I had a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit in glorious warm sunshine.

It was a nice easy couple of hours trip down from the anchorage to Sitka where the harbourmaster allocated me a berth for two days.  Once tied up I gave the US Boarder protection guys a call and checked in.  Foreign boats have a cruising permit and need to check in at each major port along the way.

Calm sunrise near Sitka. Photo Ray Penson
Calm sunrise near Sitka. Photo Ray Penson

First stop ashore was the chandlers to get a few spares for ongoing repair and maintenance.  When you have a boat it’s a never ending job keeping everything running smoothly.  I am replacing a toilet inlet hose and a non-return valve in the bilge pump system – not very glamorous jobs but its easier to maintain now than fix if it goes wrong.

I also need a new strainer for the engine raw water cooling inlet, the type on board is quite old and I am not hopeful of getting a replacement.  Anyway I took the old strainer up to the chandlers as a sample.  Ah yes he said, I know it exactly, we had one sitting on the shelf over there for eight years – a guy came in last week and bought it!  He didn’t know the manufacturer, part number or model it had been there so long the records had been lost.  Almost lucky.

The thing I must do this port call is get USA compatible gas bottles.  The guy at the chandlery said he had the same problem as me, he got new bottles as there is nowhere to change out valves in Sitka.  I will hunt around tomorrow and find a solution, also do the laundry and get some fresh food.

This evening I had a nice shower and am ready to socialise with people again.  Tomorrow after my chores I will have a look around town and do the tourist thing – plenty of tourists here with the cruise ships.  Laundry is due again and a bit of shopping for fresh food.  So far I am liking Sitka.  Total voyage distance 1,229.7 miles.

Logged 22nd June 2016

SOUNDS, STRAITS, CHANNELS AND NARROWS

Today has been a long day motoring.  It’s also been a day of calculating the tides and timing the passage down towards Sitka.  This morning we caught the tide down Hoonah Sound then Peril Strait, Sergius Channel, Kukul Narrows, Salisbury Sound, Neva Strait and finally Olga Strait.

US Ferry Columbia heading to Sitka. Photo Ray Penson
US Ferry Columbia heading to Sitka. Photo Ray Penson

The engine was running for nine hours and I am happy to be at anchor in Cedar Cove at the end of Katlin Bay.  The weather has been flat calm all day with low cloud and rain – a sort of brooding damp day.  In Hoonah Sound I saw Humpbacks breaching again.  The whales were about half a mile away; I saw one breach four times.

Current in Sergius Narrows. Photo Ray Penson
Current in Sergius Narrows. Photo Ray Penson

Today there was a lot of boat traffic about, fishing boats, pleasure boats, ferries, large charter boats, expedition yachts and fast runabouts zipping around.  Tomorrow it’s just a two hour run down to Sitka.  I am looking forward to a shower, laundry and some fresh provisions.  Total voyage distance 1,221.0 miles.

Logged 21st June 2016

DESOLATION SOUND ARRIVAL

I had a mosquito for company last night, a large one who proved very elusive.  To escape his periodic fly pasts and high pitched buzzing I had an early start.

It was very quiet in the morning on departure from Scottie Bay and I motored for three hours before we got a breeze for the south.  Then we were able to sail for the next Seven hours into Desolation Sound.  The day was overcast, the sun didn’t manage to get a look in.

The scenery was magnificent, snow capped mountains on either side peeking out of the low cloud.  The arrival at Desolation Sound marks a milestone in the trip, it’s the end of the Georgia Strait and the start of islands, narrow waterways, rapids and the scenic route to the Johnstone Strait.

This evening we are anchored in Squirrel Cove.  A beautiful protected natural harbour.  I can’t see any other boats from where we are anchored.  There is only one other yacht in the cove, an American boat.  It’s much different here in the summer, I hear there can be 100 boats gathered at one time.

Need to get some insect repellent and fly spray at the next provision stop.  Voyage distance 121 miles.

Logged 26th April 2016