NORTHBOUND VOYAGE ENDS

Today Ngozi and I had some quality time together in Hoonah.  Once the usual chores of laundry, provisioning and maintenance were out of the way we went for a walk around Hoonah.  Its not a big place so its not a difficult mission but the locals are friendly and always have time for a chat so it’s a pleasant experience.

Walking around Hoonah
Walking around Hoonah

In the evening we visited Icy Strait Brewing again to sample the latest brew.  It’s pretty strong stuff and after three glasses each we felt no pain.

Ngozi is flying out to New Zealand tomorrow morning, it has been fantastic to have company again but the time has gone too quickly.  I will be sorry to see her go.  We have been very lucky with the weather, beautiful calm warm days and balmy nights.  We have experienced the Glaciers calving, whales feeding and a whole range of wildlife – apart from bears.  It’s been a unique experience for both of us.

Tomorrow I will start the next voyage south from Hoonah to Victoria BC.  I haven’t decided which route south to take yet, maybe the weather will decide for me in the morning.  Total Voyage distance 1,632.8 miles.

BARTLETT COVE TO HOONAH

We arrived back in Hoonah this afternoon after an easy crossing of Icy Strait in calm conditions. Calm conditions meant we had to motor again which is not restful but preferable to wind on the nose, so we will take it. In Icy strait there is a lot more ebb than flood so correct timing of the tidal window is essential if you are in a low powered vessel. Fortunately, we got it almost right today and made good time.

Spot the Whale bubbles in The water. Hoonah Harbour
Spot the Whale bubbles in The water. Hoonah Harbour

Our visit to Glacier Bay was great, apart from a nasty night to start off in Fingers Bay we enjoyed wonderful weather and hardly any rain. The Glacier visit was memorable, to get up close to a calving Glacier is an awesome experience. We saw a lot of whales in the lower section of Glacier Bay but the best whale encounter occurred just outside the Hoonah Harbour entrance.

As we approached the Hoonah Harbour there was a single large whale feeding in the entrance. We slowed down to watch as the whale blew a bubble ring and then arose in the centre to collect his prey. This happened three times, the last time very close and the whale dived under the boat before surfacing on the other side. Ngozi is very happy she has seen a whale up close. She will have to go to the zoo to see a bear.

Ngozi in the Icy Strait Brewing Bar, Hoonah. Photo Ray Penson.
Ngozi in Hoonah, Alaska.

We plan to stay two nights in Hoonah as Ngozi is flying out from here on Sunday back to New Zealand.

Truce is now moored in Hoonah Harbour, all secure alongside, now we can explore the town and surrounds without any concern for the anchor.

We are both hoping to get some fresh fish and maybe some crabs and shrimp to cook. Total Voyage distance 1,632.8 miles.

HANGING AROUND HOONAH

What a beautiful warm day, the warmest so far this trip. Hoonah turned out to be a great place to hang out, do a bit of provisioning and visit the local hardware store for interesting stuff. The hardware store proved to be a great surprise, amazing stock of just about everything from iphone charges through to kitchen ware, hair curlers nappies and just about every screw ever made.

Town centre, Hoonah. Alaska
Town centre, Hoonah. Alaska
After provisioning we migrated to Icy Strait Brewing, a small microbrewery, to sample the wares. Surprisingly good beer and the bonus of Thai food cooked by the owner’s wife next door. The green curry shrimps were a hit and so refreshing to get fresh broccoli and vegetables. A definite recommend to future travellers.

Craft beer  at  Icy Strait Brewing, Hoonah. Alaska.During our walk about today we came across a shed where carving was being performed inside. The four pillars and backdrop of a new meeting house for Glacier Bay were being completed. We had an interesting chat with the head carver and learned a bit about native culture, traditions and oral history.  Tlingit traditional wood carving. Hoonah, Alaska.Truce is now topped off with fresh water and all systems checked ready to depart in the morning to Glacier Bay. The wind forecast is against us and the tide for the trip up Icy Strait tomorrow, hopefully it won’t be too strong and we will benefit from an early start.Youth Centre, Hoonah, AlaskaA guy, Jay, who I met many weeks ago in Port McNeill is tied up alongside us today on his lovely motor launch. He has just returned from his second trip to Glacier Bay this year and generously gave me his Glacier Bay chart and pointed out some of the better anchorages and places where me might see bear, moose and wolves. I will keep looking.
This evening I had a panic attack as I thought I had left my phone in the brewery and had to return. Luckily I later found the phone on the boat so panic over and a return to normal stress levels.Logged 8th July 2016.

COMPANY, AGAIN

Logged 7th July 2016

The weather is getting warmer now or maybe this bit of Alaska is warmer I am not sure. Today I motored up to Hoonah which is quite a large village and the largest Tlingit community in Southeast Alaska. 

The name Hoonah means ‘place where the north wind doesn’t blow’ and warm ocean currents usually keep the minimum temperature just below freezing in winter.
The dock at Hoonah is protected by a large breakwater and I have a nice easy berth to escape from at the end of the pier. On arrival I made my call to boarder protection to notify my position. The harbourmasters office has a laundry and showers and just around the corner is a chandlers where I was able to purchase some sanitation hose. After lunch I changed out the hose on the toilet and now have nice new hose throughout the system, should be good for a few years.  

Ngozi at Icy Strait Brewing, Hoonah.
Ngozi at Icy Strait Brewing, Hoonah.

Later in the afternoon I walked up to the airport which is about a mile out of town and picked up Ngozi who had arrived from Juneau. She was the only person on the plane and sat next to the pilot on the way across, it was a small plane. So now I have company again which is really nice.  

Tomorrow will be an easy day having a look around Hoonah and doing a bit of shopping before departing to Glacier Bay on Saturday morning. Total voyage distance 1,446.0 miles.
Logged 7th July 2016

SMELL THE ROSES

As I have a couple of days to wait and ‘no particular place to go’ I decided to sit back, chill out and ‘smell the roses’ as my wife says. 

After a beautiful calm night and a good sleep, I set out this morning to have a look at Neka Bay and the river that feeds into it, only a short trip of four miles around the peninsular from where I am. 

Neka Bay is very scenic but the river feeding into it is not that spectacular, after doing the sights I decided to return to North Bight where I had anchored the previous night. 

 This time on returning I ventured deeper into the end of the bay and found a nice anchorage in a pool at the head of the bay.
Then I had a day of relaxation and messing around, luckily the weather has been warm with the sun making the occasional appearance. The landscape here is very scenic, not as harsh as further out in Icy Strait, more greenery with small patches of snow on the hills. 

There are some small porpoise occupying the inlet that have been swimming around the boat all afternoon. There are a couple of Bald Eagles around the anchorage making their distinctive high pitched sounds. I expected Eagles to have big bold gruff voices and was surprised by their shrill squeaky wheel noise.  

I made some bread and had a feast of fresh bread, cheese and onion in the cockpit washed down with Icy Bay IPA, it’s a good beer and by the end of the afternoon a couple more followed the first. 

 The midges and sand flies didn’t turn up today for some reason, it was warm and enjoyable outside. Ah, it’s a hard life.

Tomorrow I move up to Hoonah where the harbourmaster has allocated me a berth inside the harbour. Looking forward to a shower, laundry and interacting with humans again. Looking forward even more to Ngozi arriving on the soon.

 Total voyage distance 1,435.8 miles.

Logged 6th July.

ICY STRAIT TO PORT FREDERICK

Last night was uncomfortable, gusty winds into the anchorage, nothing serious just disturbing and restless.   Today we moved east down Icy Strait and into Port Frederick which is just past Hoonah.  The cruise ship Noordam came past the anchorage at six this morning and I encountered a few more cruise ships on the way.

Once out the anchorage the weather went flat calm and the wildlife came out to play.  Humpback Whales, Porpoise, sea Otters, Seals, Sealions, and all kinds of birds kept me entertained.

Just past Hoonah the wind filled in and it was possible to ghost with the jib for a couple of hours down to the anchorage in Port Frederick.  The inlet where I have anchored for the night is littered with crab pots, it was hard to find a clear spot to drop anchor.

The anchorage is also home to a few million small insects, sand fly type things that bite and itch.  I am not complaining, the anchorage is calm and looks like a good night’s sleep tonight.  Total voyage distance 1,427.8 miles.

Logged 5th July 2016

INIAN ISLAND

I awoke this morning to thick fog, a sign summer is here.  The fog cleared in the early morning and the sun came out.  But then a strong westerly wind set in and finally rain again.  A real mixed up day but plenty of variety.

In the morning I motored over to Inian Island which is in the middle of Cross Strait.  There is a pass north and south of Inian Island and the water flow through the passes is tremendous.  Huge upwelling’s and swirls of water, even at slack water.  Another funny thing is that the Pacific Swell comes right into the strait and seems to bend around the islands but still keep its size and shape.  The locals tell me that in bad weather or wind against tide, the passes can be very difficult and dangerous.  I believe it and will try and take advantage of the current tomorrow to get a lift to the east.

Coral Princess heading into Glacier Bay.Photo Ray Penson
Coral Princess heading into Glacier Bay.Photo Ray Penson

The anchorage at Inian Island is supposed to be sheltered but this evening is a little draughty.  I hope the wind dies down later as the singing in the rigging and surging at anchor is not very relaxing.

My entry permit into Glacier bay is for the 9th July, I can’t go in before then so am hanging around this Icy Strait area waiting for my wife to arrive in Hoonah.  Then we will cross Icy Strait into Glacier Bay.

Tomorrow I will have a look at sailing to Port Frederick, which is a sound south of Hoonah. There should be some interesting wildlife in there if the tales of my fisherman friends are true.  Total voyage distance 1,383.1 miles.

Logged 4th July 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