HUMPBACK BREACHING

Thank you Warm Springs Bay, I had a most enjoyable stay and the weather has been fabulous.  But after three nights alongside the dock it’s time to move on.  My friends, Steve, Bob and Noel have departed north and south and I was in the company of fishing boats and their crews last night.

We sailed at eight this morning to ride the tide up Chatham Strait.  The forecast was for southerly winds ten knots.  As it was a light wind forecast I left the dinghy in the water.  When we got out into the strait the wind picked up and the short seas from the quarter made life very uncomfortable.  It was obvious the dinghy had to get on deck or she would be lost.  I ran for shelter into Takatz Bay and in calm water hoisted the dinghy on deck and set off again.  What a relief not to have the pig dragging behind threatening to destroy the self-steering.

Once out in Chatham Strait again the wind increased and the rain arrived.  I knew it would rain, the forecast said ‘Chance of showers’ in Alaska that means it’s going to piss down.  Under the jib with wind from astern we made six knots and this attracted the Dolphins who came to play around the bow.  These were the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin variety, real show offs.  They stayed for about twenty minutes, I say on the bow shouting and whistling at them, which I am sure they appreciated and enjoyed.

A little further on I was surprised to see a Humpback Whale breach about a mile ahead.  A few minutes later it breached again but closer, we were sailing towards the whales who were moving slowly in the same direction as us.  I got a couple of photos, but when the whale breached very close by the camera didn’t take the shot.  Maybe I was too excited and didn’t tap the screen hard enough.  What a shame it would have been an excellent close up shot.

Humpback Breaching Photo Ray Penson
Humpback Breaching Photo Ray Penson

In all my time at sea I have never seen a Whale breach.  Being on a small boat close to the action makes you realise what a huge event this is.  The power required to launch that huge body out of the water is immense, the splash on re-entry is huge and the sound like thunder, crump.  A truly awesome experience and I feel privileged to have witnessed it.  I don’t know why but Dolphins and Whales make me feel so happy.

Tonight I have anchored in Appleton Cove at the top of Baranof Island.  Tomorrow I will plan a transit of Peril Strait and then down towards Sitka.  Total voyage distance 1,173.9 miles.

Logged 20th June 2016

TRAMPING IN THE WOODS

This morning I did the Sunday ritual of checks and cleaning.  I also finally got around to clipping and securing the cables for the AIS that had been outstanding for so long.  One of my opening windows (Port) has been leaking slightly since I last had a go at fixing it, this morning I did a proper job and everything is watertight again.

Baranof Lake. Photo Ray Penson
Baranof Lake. Photo Ray Penson

Having toiled away all morning I packed a backpack and went for a walk in the woods in the afternoon.  It was a sparkling day with crystal clear visibility.  I found a track leading to a high lookout point with spectacular views out across Chatham Strait and back across the Baranof Island to the mountains.  I walked for miles, the sea legs may be aching tomorrow.  I will take a hot tub later.

I am now back at sea level and planning my departure for tomorrow morning.  The forecast is good and the tide in my favour for the first few hours.  My plan now is to work around to Peril Strait and head down to Sitka.  I am in need of some fresh provisions and will run out of gas in a few days, Sitka seems like the best place to replenish.

Logged 19th June 2016

CROSSING CHATHAM STRAIT

This evening we are anchored in Reb Bluff Bay on Baranof Island.  The cruising guide describes this bay as a spectacular location – it is!  The bay is surrounded by high snow-capped mountains with cascades falling down the steep sides for hundreds of meters.  This is a room with a view.

This morning we pulled the abhor and motored in flat calm and sunshine.  In the distance I could see fog lying over Frederick Sound and as we passed through some small islands the fog enveloped us.  Visibility was down to about 50 meters and I was rock dodging, not nice.  After an hour the fog cleared and the wind set in from the South West.

The engine went off, the jib unfurled and we were off on port tack across Chatham Strait.  The wind backed to the south and the wind vane followed it around and we managed to lay the entrance to Red Bluff Bay without tacking.  The sea in Chatham Strait became quite boisterous, in about forty minutes a nasty short chop had built up, made worse by wind against tide.  Unfortunately, my coffee plunger took a dive and cracked.  The box said it was shatterproof, obviously not crack proof.  I will have to devise another method for brewing my morning coffee.

On arrival at Red Bluff Bay there were two small expedition vessel anchored with boats out doing tours and passengers paddling about in kayaks.  They both departed in the early evening and a large, good looking, American Motor yacht arrived.

Of the three route options this morning I went for the west.  I will now work up the east side of Baranof Island.  Tomorrow I will try to get up to Warm Springs Bay.  I just hope there are actually warm springs there, a warm spook would be welcome.  Total voyage distance 1,114.8 miles.

Logged  16th June 2016