ARRIVED PETERSBURG

My third night at Portage Bay was peaceful, the wind died down late last night and I was able to get a good night’s sleep.  The sun tried to break through the clouds today but didn’t succeed.  I could detect a bit of warmth and my solar panel registered a one-amp charge briefly.  It’s no wonder the population of Alaska is so small, I mean who wants to live in a place where the sun doesn’t shine for a whole week in summer.

Petersburg, Alaska
Petersburg, Alaska

I sailed out of Portage Bay on the last of the ebb tide.  On the east shore, by a disused logging camp I saw a Black Bear.  This is the second time I have seen bears around disused buildings, maybe there is some attraction for them once the humans have departed.  I suppose a disused hut may be a decent substitute for a cave in winter.

In Frederick Sound I saw icebergs again and some more Orca’s, what magnificent creatures they are.  There was plenty of boat traffic towards Petersburg, fishing boats, recreational fishers, ferries and tour excursion boats.  In Petersburg I refuelled, the current alongside the fuel dock is wicked, Truce is now topped up for the next part of the voyage.

Tomorrow I will head down Wrangell Narrows, it’s a twenty-mile channel and quite narrow in places.  Interestingly the tide meets in the middle, the trick is to use the last of the flood to the midpoint and then ride the ebb down the other side.  After Wrangell narrows I will be heading over the Wrangell town.

Truce is booked to be lifted out the water in Wrangell on Thursday.  The hull is dirty and needs cleaning and a new coating of antifouling paint.  Hopefully when complete she will have her speed back and won’t be using so much diesel pushing an undersea garden through the water.  The growth on the hull has built up very quickly since visiting Glacier Bay, maybe there is something in the water causing rapid growth.  Total voyage distance 182.2 miles.
Image credit:setsaildotcom

PORTAGE BAY SHELTER

Another night surging and straining on the anchor rode, another night of the wind howling mournfully in the rig and even more rain.  Today has been much like yesterday, southerly wind, low cloud and rain showers.  Wet, wet, wet and still no sun.

The forecast this morning was 25 knots from the direction we want to go with a small craft advisory.  I decided to stay at anchor and get on with a few odd jobs, read a book, watch a movie, do some baking and have a leisurely Sunday.  I baked bread and chocolate chip, cranberry and coconut muffins.  The bread turned out well.  The muffins are best described as rock muffins.  They are not soft and fluffy, best eaten when dunked in tea to soften them up a bit.

Last night the other yacht in the anchorage moved up to the head of the bay to try for more shelter.  It gets shallow further up and I was surprised how far he got in.  This morning he came out just before low water and went aground, I watched as more of his boot topping became visible.  It took the poor guy more than two hours to get free and into deeper water.  He will not have good memories of Portage Bay.

There is a need to get to port soon.  Last night I cut open my last lemon for a nightcap rum and coke and found it was rotten inside.  That is the last of my fresh fruit apart from an onion so need to restock before I get scurvy – or drink rum without lemon.

This morning I found a water leak in the forward cabin, some water is coming in where the chimney passes through the deck.  I think the chimney got a knock when I was re-stowing the pig on deck, probably cracked the seal.  When we get a dry spell I will re-caulk it.

The barometer is starting to rise and I expect tomorrow will be a beautiful day to continue down Frederick Sound to Petersburg with a beam wind in glorious sunshine.

WAITING ON WEATHER

I am still anchored in Portage Bay off Frederick Sound.  The weather last night was horrid with wind gusts and driving rain.  The same has continued all day today.  Another yacht came in after me yesterday, he is going south as well and can’t make progress either.  No one in a small low powered boat is able to move south at the moment.

Portage Bay Anchorage. Photo Ray Penson
Portage Bay Anchorage. Photo Ray Penson

This afternoon I dragged anchor for a few meters.  It caught again but I was getting too close to some crab pots so decided to pick up the anchor and move.  The west side of the bay looked slightly better so I moved over there, it’s the same thing really but I got to run the engine and charge the batteries.  I was also incredibly bored and needed to do something.

I am getting insignificant charge from the solar panel at the moment, I haven’t seen the sun since last Monday, five days ago.  Usually the solar panel can keep up with my requirements for charging my electronic devices and lights.

With all this rain falling I decided to harvest some to top up my fresh water tanks.  I don’t really

Harvesting Rainwater from the side deck. Photo Ray Penson

need fresh water but it was something to do.  Truce has three scuppers on each side to drain water from the decks.  These scuppers can be blocked with plugs and the collected water diverted into the fresh water tanks via the filling pipes on the side decks.  The system is so simple and works wonderfully, my tanks were topped up in no time.

Another benefit of having scupper plugs arises when taking fuel.  It’s quick and easy to block the scuppers to prevent any diesel release to the water in the unlikely event of a spill on deck.  That simple precaution could save a lot of money in fines.

My guide book says that Portage Bay is a beautiful and protected anchorage.  It’s not very protected from the south as the wind whistles through the estuary at the head of the bay called Goose Cove and then continues for three miles down the bay.  All I can see is a bit of shoreline, low cloud and driving rain.  I really look forward to what will be revealed when the weather clears up.

The forecast for late tonight is for thirty knot winds and rain.  Tomorrows’ prediction is only slightly better so I may have another day in Portage Bay.  Sailing teaches you patience.

GOODBYE STEPHENS PASSAGE

Entrance Island proved to be a perfectly protected little cove, no wind or sea came in, I had a relaxing night and a chat with my neighbours from the American yacht.  This morning I sailed at four to catch the tide down the remainder of Stephens Passage and into Frederick Sound.  There was a small craft advisory issued for south easterly winds, yes on the nose.  I figured that if I got away early I could get to Portage Bay before the wind got too bad in the afternoon.

The day started out overcast and grey with rain and cold.  I am back in thermals again and have had my oilskins on all day.  The weather stayed the same, just got more wind thrown in.  I made good time down Stevens Passage and hit the wind coming towards me in Frederick Sound.  A long tack down to the south side of the sound helped gain some ground, but progress towards my destination was slow and wet.  Eventually the tide picked up and I was able to make the entrance to Portage Bay just after noon.

I saw the Humpback Whales again and more Orca’s.  The Humpbacks were supposed to have been hunted to near extinction but now they seem to be everywhere, incredible.

The anchorage at Portage Bay is open to the south between the hills and a good breeze is coming through whipping up the waves.  Happily, the bottom is mud and I don’t have to listen to the anchor chain rumbling across the rocks.  All is well on board, the fire is burning, it’s nice and warm and snug in the cabin.

My next destinations are Petersburg and Wrangell.  I am looking forward to getting ashore to do the tourist thing.  The forecast is for the same wind again tomorrow, on the nose 25 knots.  If that’s the case I may have a day off.  Total voyage distance 157.7 miles.

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