We had a wonderful night last night, clear skies, big moon and just the right amount of wind to keep us moving along nicely with a low swell. The nights are cool and an extra layer of clothes is required for the early morning watches. I watched Venus rise just after the Southern Cross in the east. Around one in the morning the wind went light and a couple of hours later filled in from the east. We are now able to lay our course to Penrhyn and make some ground to the east. We still have the wind on our port bow and going to weather. However, I have eased off the angle and we are now sailing about 60 degrees off the wind, more comfortable and a bit more progress through the water.
Just after nine this morning we crossed the equator back into the Southern hemisphere. This is the first time crossing the equator for Jessica on a boat. She has now progressed from a pollywog to a shellback and has the certificate to prove it.
Shortly after the equator we had a pod of dolphins come to join us, around ten large bottlenose type dolphins. Pure coincidence I am sure but a nice welcome to the southern hemisphere.
At three this afternoon we took an executive decision – miss out Penrhyn. We made this decision for numerous reasons including, fed up going to weather, time is running out for Jessica and me, stores and beer stocks will be getting critical before Tonga. We think it will be far better to spend some quality time in Suwarrow rather than rushing both Penrhyn and Suwarrow. I am disappointed to miss out on Penrhyn as everything I have read about the place seems excellent. But, we can’t beat time. I have put the wind just aft of the beam and are heading 203 degrees to Suwarrow, some eight hundred and twenty miles distant.
It feels so good not to be going to weather, the boat movement has relaxed to a gentle roll. No more moving around like a spastic monkey, staggering from one handhold to the next. Now, if only the wind will stay exactly the same for the next week……. Total voyage distance 134 miles.
Porcupine Cove provided a peaceful night. The waterfall woke me up a couple of times, I thought it was wind one time and another time thought it was a boat coming alongside. I think I was sleeping lightly due to all the action yesterday and frustration at not making it to White Sulphur Hot Springs. By six we were heading out past the breakers and around into Lisianski Strait. This section of coast is spectacular, wild and rugged and no place to be in bad weather or fog.
The trip up Lisianski Strait was under motor in calm waters. There was a lone Humpback Whale working along the tideline and a couple of porpoise turned up for a couple of minutes. What is wrong with porpoise; they just don’t know how to have fun, they are like depressed Dolphins. I think they need to lighten up and start frolicking a bit more.
By lunchtime we were alongside the dock in Pelican, I have parked just next to the Seaplane dock. The place looks interesting and a quick trip ashore proved that the inhabitants are very friendly. A fisherman gave me a beautiful piece of Salmon he had just caught; it will last me for a week. I pan fried the first piece for a late lunch and am cooking the remainder now as I don’t have a fridge on board – a special cooking technique using an ancient Thai recipe.
Tonight I will try the world famous Roses Bar. Rose is apparently in her eighties but still makes it behind the bar despite a couple of slips recently. Total voyage distance 1,324.2 miles.
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.
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.