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

BUSY IN SITKA

Today has been full on action all day.  This morning I started some maintenance, replaced the toilet inlet hose, put a new non return valve in the bilge pump discharge, made a new gasket for the engine raw water strainer and did a thousand and one other little jobs outstanding.

Sitka Cathedral showing Russian Influence. Photo Ray Penson
Sitka Cathedral showing Russian Influence. Photo Ray Penson

Then I was off to find a solution to my gas cylinder problem.  I found a place selling gas cylinders but as I suspected no one would change out a valve on an existing cylinder.  Oh well, a complete new cylinder probably costs less than changing a valve anyway.  The shop only sold one size of cylinder, it looked about right so I bought one and took it down to the boat to check.  Lucky – it fitted into the gas locker, so I went back and bough another one.  Later I filled both cylinders at a gas station and now have two full USA compatible cylinders on board.  I also still have the old cylinders with some gas in them so will have to stow the new cylinders on deck until the old ones run out and I can dispose of them ashore.

After the gas cylinder success, I set off on a long walk to see if I could get a raw water strainer.  This was a waste of shoe leather but I did get to see a bit of Sitka.  Downtown I found a store selling kitchen stuff and bought a coffee press to replace my broken one – back on good coffee again thank goodness.  A cruise ship was in town and the place was full of passengers milling around.  Sitka looks really interesting and unfortunately I didn’t get to see too much today as I was so busy.  I was back and forth up and down the dock like a worker ant.

This evening I did the grocery shopping and stocked up, my wife, is coming out in a couple of weeks.  I don’t expect that after leaving Sitka I will be in range of shops until I arrive in Hoonah on the 7th July.

Now I just have some laundry to do and I am ready to explore again.  I would like to see some more of Sitka and spend some time here, I may stay another day and be a proper tourist.  In the morning I will check if there is a berth available for Friday night.

Logged 23rd June 2016

WHALES AND SEALIONS

I woke up this morning at four with light shining into the cabin and the patter of raindrops overhead.  It started raining again last night and has continued all day without respite.  It’s hard to believe I was stripped off in the sun only a couple of weeks ago.

Cruise ship Noordam entering a damp Ketchikan at six in the morning. Photo Ray Penson
Cruise ship Noordam entering a damp Ketchikan at six in the morning. Photo Ray Penson

This morning I went for a walk around Ketchikan.  A couple of cruise ships came in early and disgorged their thousands of passengers, many dressed in pastel coloured designer outdoor gear.  We all thronged around the souvenir shops admiring the tat from China, India and Haiti and Bangladesh.  There are some shops with good quality art and jewellery at eye watering prices.

The old part of town has been preserved and you can do exciting things like tour Dollys whore house and indulge in historical follies.  Once out of the tourist area the town of Ketchikan looks quite shoddy and run down.  I planned to spend two nights in Ketchikan, maybe it was the rain but I found it a depressing place so will move on.  This is not the Alaska I had come all this way to see.

Old creek Street Ketchikan. Photo Ray Penson
Old creek Street Ketchikan. Photo Ray Penson

I had to make a visit to the supermarket to top up on some fresh fruit and veg.  The selection was disappointing and not as good as Prince Rupert, pretty expensive as well.  By far Prince Rupert has been the best place for storing up outside Victoria.

Being completely fed up with the rain and Ketchikan I decided to head west to try and find some dryer weather.  I left the dock in Thomas Basin just after noon and headed to the fuel dock to top up on diesel and buy some petrol and two stroke oil for the outboard.  Having refuelled we headed out to cross the Clarence Strait to Prince of Wales Island.

We had wind to start and sailed under the Jib.  Then the wind died so we motored.  Then the wind came back and blew gale force from the South East, we made good time under the Jib hitting seven knots at times.

Ruby Princess cruise ship in Ketchikan Photo Ray Penson
Ruby Princess cruise ship in Ketchikan Photo Ray Penson

Half way across I was startled to see a rock off our starboard bow sticking out the water – Impossible, it was the fluke of a whale sticking up vertically.  I didn’t see the whale but it must have been very big, a humpback maybe.  Later a sea lion came up right alongside the boat with a big fish in his mouth.  He was so close and didn’t seem bothered at all.  I tried to take a shot with the camera but didn’t make it unfortunately.  Heading into the anchorage this evening we had the usual welcome from the nosey resident seal.

I don’t have any firm plans for the next couple of weeks.  Prince of Wales Island looks interesting and worth spending some time around.  I would like to find a nice dry sheltered spot where I can do some maintenance and dry out.  Total voyage distance 762.7 miles.

Logged 31st May 2016