HEADING SOUTH TO VICTORIA

This morning Ngozi departed Truce on her way back to New Zealand.  The Harbourmaster at Hoonah very generously gave her a lift up to the airport.  I am now alone again and have missed having company today.  And no, it’s not just to have help with the cooking and cleaning!

The voyage from Canoe Cove to Glacier Bay has been a great experience for me.  I have experienced rain, cold, headwinds, glorious days, calm nights, wildlife, interesting people and made new friends along the way.  Truce has proved to be a wonderful little boat, well built, comfortable, capable of looking after me and tolerating my mistakes.  The next voyage to the south will mean a bit of backtracking but I will try and avoid visiting previous stops.

I was a bit lazy this morning, probably a bit flat after Ngozi departing.  Eventually I managed to get off the dock and headed out into Icy Strait, still not sure what route to take south, only knowing I was heading east first.  Once I got into the Strait a westerly breeze picked up and I set all sail, so relaxing to be sailing and switch the motor off.  At the east end of Icy Strait, the wind shifted to the south, blowing up Clarence Strait.  My route was now decided, I was not going down Clarence Strait, I sailed up Lynn Canal with a good following breeze.  I will now head down Stephens Passage, into Frederick Sound and Wrangell Narrows.  This is all new territory for me.

The weather was very warm today with clear visibility.  I was sailing in just a pair of shorts in brilliant sunshine, sparking seas with vistas of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.  Magical.  There was a lot of boat traffic about today, fishing boats, sports boats, tourist boats, the most I have seen in Alaska.  Auke seems to be the centre for boating out of Juneau.

After sailing for seven hours today, mostly not too fast, I have anchored in Auke Bay for the evening.  In the anchorage there is another yacht, a French yacht also heading south.  The anchorage is a bit bumpy due to all the boat traffic passing by at high speed, also a bit noisy with 3 jet skis buzzing around and music coming from the shore.  This place looks like a holiday destination with nice homes doted along the shore line.  Total voyage distance 41.4 miles.

SIDE TRIP TO NOWHERE

This morning opened wet and misty, a constant wet drizzle and visibility reduced to about half a mile.  I decided to take a side trip up Dundas Sound to the West Arm where there should be a good anchorage and some great views of the mountains beyond.

After a short motor in calm conditions I anchored in the west arm and awaited for the weather to improve.  Unfortunately, by early afternoon there was no change, there was nothing to be seen, only mist and the shore up to around 300 feet.  So, being impatient and wanting to do something I decided to head back to my anchorage from the previous nigh which is more sheltered.

In the West Arm I saw an amazing sight.  A large group of Sea Otters all bunched together lying around on the surface.  There must have been at least forty of them.  The food must be abundant around here to support so many otters.

It was Salmon again for lunch and dinner, now it’s finished.  That’s good, I need a change from a Salmon diet.  Total voyage distance 1,375.4 miles.

Logged 3rd July 2016

VIEW OF BRADY GLACIER

Mark popped on board this morning with a present of four thick King Salmon steaks bagged in ice.  Fresh wild Salmon is a real delight, no comparison to the stuff from the supermarket.

It rained all night but cleared up in the morning.  I sailed at eleven across Cross Strait to Fern Harbour.  The harbour provides a magnificent view of the tail end of Brady Glacier and awesome high mountains beyond.  Luckily the cloud cleared and the sun came out and it got quite warm.

Unfortunately, Fern Harbour proved no too good as an overnight anchorage.  Firstly, there is a swell that enters the bay, secondly the bottom is very rocky and the anchor chain jumps across the rocks and finally the place is infested with hundreds of horse flies, or deer flies.

Whatever they are called, they are quite large, bite and make noise.  Quite unbearable, so I had to depart after a couple of hours and moved around to Dundas Bay.  I am told that Dundas Bay is part of the Glacier Bay National Park (its next door) but a permit is not required for this side.

It’s a pretty remote and wild place and I hope to explore further into the arms of the bay tomorrow. Looks like Salmon again for dinner tonight.

Total voyage distance 1,361.4 miles.

Logged 2nd July 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

PULLED A SICKIE TODAY.

I woke up this morning not feeling too chipper.  A blinding headache and lethargy.  I had a cup of tea and lay down on the salon settee and slept for another two hours.  Last night I cooked up a concoction of pasta, pizza topping and salami (sounds awful but tastes quite good).  The salami was on special in Craig supermarket, I reckon it did me in.  I had dreams last night and that is a sure sign that I have ingested Monosodium glutamate – must have been in the bloody salami.

Anyway it was raining and miserable so I decided to have a day off.  Not had a sick day yet.  Turned out to be a great decision.  By lunch time the sun was out and all damp oilskins, boots and stuff was drying off nicely in the cockpit.  I was a cleaning machine in the galley and all is sparkling again.  I took a late lunch in the cockpit, wearing not much as nature intended in brilliant sunshine and flat calm.

The forecast is for westerly winds so in the afternoon I moved anchorage to a position where we should have more shelter from the west.  The place I had selected turned out to be rocky with numerous uncharted shallow patches.  We came quite close to the bottom.  A little further down the coast I found a small indentation that looked calm and sheltered.  After some sniffing around and numerous turns to find the shallow spots and rocks I dropped anchor.

Happy in the new anchorage and enjoying the warm sun I set about changing out the main halyard.  I spliced in a thimble into the new halyard and after measuring the old halyard (twice) cut the new line to size.  Its all rigged now and awaiting its first trial.

What a beautiful spot I am in.  Sheltered from the west but looking out to the east at a tremendous view of sea, islands and snow capped mountains in the distance.  Sunrise should be good.  Wow, I had dinner in the cockpit at eight this evening in warm sunshine and a picture postcard setting, in total silence apart from the animal noises from the forest and sea otters crunching shells.  Dinner was washed down with a couple of Alaskan Icy Bay IPA’s (how bizarre drinking India Pale Ale in Alaska).  I am feeling quite healthy again and really enjoyed my ‘day off’.

In the morning I am planning a transit of Rocky Pass (unless I see a big closed sign).  According to my chart the controlling depth is 4 feet.  As we are drawing 6 feet we will need to go through with some tide underneath us.  Should be fun.  Total voyage distance 1,037.3 miles.

Logged 13th June 2016

A LONG DAY AND SLOW SAIL

Up bright and early today to beat the forecast gale.  Beautiful daybreak and flat calm in Gillespie Channel, the water was like glass.

Six in the morning and clear of Gillespie Narrows. Photo Ray Penson
Six in the morning and clear of Gillespie Narrows. Photo Ray Penson

Up bright and early today to beat the forecast gale.  Beautiful daybreak and flat calm in Gillespie Channel, the water was like glass.  Getting out through the narrows was very exciting with the water rushing out at a rate of knots.  Once committed there is no turning back and no place for indecision, just power on to keep steering control and pop out the other end.

I wanted to sail up Principe Channel and enter approach Prince Rupert from the west rather than the usual route up Grenville Passage.  But the prospect of a thirty-mile tack into a building headwind deterred me.  So I headed off up Otter Channel and towards Grenville Channel.

Captain Ray Penson
Captain Ray Penson

The forecast gale didn’t arrive and instead the wind was from the South and fluky.  We sailed for nearly 12 hours and only made 30 miles progress.

To compensate for the slow sail the weather was brilliant, not a cloud in the sky and visibility forever.  Great scenery all the way back to the snow covered mountains inland.  I didn’t see any sea life at all today and thankfully not many logs after a small bump this morning.

This evening we have anchored in Curlew Bat which is on a small island about five miles south of Grenville Channel.

Not sure if I will start up the channel tomorrow, I will see how I feel in the morning after the efforts of today. Total voyage distance 544.8 miles.

Logged 21st May 2016

DESOLATION SOUND ARRIVAL

I had a mosquito for company last night, a large one who proved very elusive.  To escape his periodic fly pasts and high pitched buzzing I had an early start.

It was very quiet in the morning on departure from Scottie Bay and I motored for three hours before we got a breeze for the south.  Then we were able to sail for the next Seven hours into Desolation Sound.  The day was overcast, the sun didn’t manage to get a look in.

The scenery was magnificent, snow capped mountains on either side peeking out of the low cloud.  The arrival at Desolation Sound marks a milestone in the trip, it’s the end of the Georgia Strait and the start of islands, narrow waterways, rapids and the scenic route to the Johnstone Strait.

This evening we are anchored in Squirrel Cove.  A beautiful protected natural harbour.  I can’t see any other boats from where we are anchored.  There is only one other yacht in the cove, an American boat.  It’s much different here in the summer, I hear there can be 100 boats gathered at one time.

Need to get some insect repellent and fly spray at the next provision stop.  Voyage distance 121 miles.

Logged 26th April 2016