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.


Last night was quiet but the occasional sound of the anchor chain dragging over the rocky bottom and the thought if ice floes circulating in the anchorage wasn’t conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep.  This morning started with foggy patches and low cloud type rain.  By eight the visibility started improving and I departed the anchorage at nine.

State float at Entrance Island. Photo Ray Penson
State float at Entrance Island. Photo Ray Penson

On my way out of the anchorage I saw the icebergs that I had been dodging around in the fog last night.  Scary stuff.    The forecast southerly wind didn’t arrive, in its place we had mist, rain, fog and more rain.  I saw a couple of my old friends, the logs, in the water today.  There is always something floating around here that needs dodging.  The sea was pretty calm and although we were going against the tide made reasonable progress with the engine.  This bit of the inside passage is quite busy with cruise ships, I saw a couple more today.

Ice not seen in fog. Photo Ray Penson
Ice not seen in fog. Photo Ray Penson

The Orca’s turned up today.  First one by himself came over to have a look at me.  A few minutes later I came across five hunting as a pack close to rocks inshore.  I was also close to the rocks, trying to keep out of the current.  They are the most beautiful animal, so sleek, powerful and fast.  One of nature’s finest designs.  These were the first Orca’s I have seen on the west coast.

Ice at entrance to Tracy Arm Anchorage Photo Ray Penson
Ice at entrance to Tracy Arm Anchorage Photo Ray Penson

I had another close encounter with a Humpback Whale as well.  There were two large Humpbacks feeding ahead.  They were both sounding and staying down for three or four minutes each time.  I was watching them and trying to calculate where they would pop up.  One popped up to starboard as expected but the other didn’t show.  As I was looking ahead I was startled to hear a whale surface very close astern.  A huge magnificent creature, did he surprise me on purpose?  I have noticed that after they have dived deep two or three times they seem to need a rest, they swim slowly on the surface and don’t blow out big streams of air.  The whale I saw close alongside yesterday was just moving slowly and didn’t blow when he surfaced next to the boat.

This evening I have tied up to a rather decrepit little float in a small cove on Entrance Island.  Entrance Island is at the entrance to Hobart Bay.  An American boat with a couple of old boys on it has tied up astern of me and the float is full.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is even worse than today, on the nose again 25 knots.  I reckon it may be OK if I get away early.  Total voyage distance 126.1 miles.


Last night when I entered Taku Harbour I prepared the anchor ready to drop.  It was a last minute decision to moor alongside the float.  Its easier to anchor than get the fenders rigged and dock lines out of the locker.  This morning I was glad I made the decision to moor alongside.

The forecast southerly winds arrived and then some.  A fisherman came alongside the float and reported a strong northerly flowing two knot current in the passage.  A yacht later came in and reported 30 knot gusts and short steep seas, he was coming from the south so had a good sail.  For Truce to try and motor into such short seas is fruitless, she just becomes a rocking horse without much forward progress.  Sailing is an option but I don’t fancy tacking all day into a headwind and current.   So I stayed happily alongside the float and had a relaxed day pottering about chatting with the fellow occupants of the float.

I caught up on my emails that I had been putting off for a couple of weeks, my outbox is bulging ready to discharge when next on Wi-Fi.  The seawater filter got cleaned, the stern light got fixed and a bit more housekeeping as well.

Taku Harbour is quite a busy place, there has been a steady stream of fishing boats coming and going and a couple of large motor yachts anchored up the bay.  It’s one of the few sheltered harbours on the inside passage between Petersburg and Juneau so is a popular stop for cruisers. Surprisingly, apart from a couple of Bald Eagles wildlife seems to be absent.

The forecast for tomorrow is not too flash either, more or less the same as today.  I suspect the wind will drop but the forecaster is playing safe – just in case.  The ebb tide isn’t until the afternoon so I will make a decision to go or stay another day by mid-morning.


The anchorage at Auke Bay turned out to be quiet and peaceful once the party goers had left the beach.  No early start needed this morning as I was waiting for the tide to turn at nine.  I did some baking and read the pilot book to pass the time.  The day started calm and then a light breeze sprang up from astern, not strong enough for sailing but I tried using the jib to motor sail without much success.

When I tried to unfurl the jib it was jammed, the halyard was wrapping around the stay.  After some messing around I got the jib unfurled and dropped on deck.  I found the furler top swivel was not turning too well, the bearings felt rough and were sticking.  It’s a Merriman furler and the top swivel is a sealed unit which can’t be opened.  I rinsed the swivel out with plenty of fresh water, then shot in copious amounts of WD40 followed by some light oil.  After that treatment it felt a bit smoother and swivelled freely.  Back up went the jib and all is working well again.  That kept me occupied for a couple of hours as we motored on autopilot down Stephens passage in glorious sunshine.

Tiller Drive Ram Connected to Rudder Trim Tab
Tiller Drive Ram Connected to Rudder Trim Tab

The autopilot is an old Autohelm 2000 tiller pilot unit.  A couple of its buttons don’t work and I suspect the sensitivity control is not sensitive anymore.  It still works but struggles in any sort of sea above flat calm.  I have been thinking for some time about the possibility of connecting the tiller pilot ram to the trim tab from the wind vane self steering.  The trim tab needs very little effort to move it and a small movement of the trim tab produces a big deflection of the rudder.

As the weather was quite calm and the sun shining I decided to experiment with the autopilot connected to the trim tab.  I lashed the tiller pilot ram to the stern rail and tied the business end to the trim tab linkage.  Just a rough lash up to see if it would work.  I switched on the autopilot and it worked first go, steered perfectly with very little effort.  I left it on for three hours and even used it for steering into the harbour.  It worked better than when on the tiller.  I am now wondering if the autopilot connected to the trim tab will be useful for sailing in light winds and lumpy seas when the wind vane doesn’t generate enough directional force and the autopilot connected to the tiller can’t cope.  I feel quite chuffed with myself.  There must be a downside somewhere, things don’t normally work so easily, I will cogitate over a beer or two.

Like yesterday I was in shorts again today.  My thermometer that I thought was stuck on 12 degrees hit 26 today, I was hot.  There is a tremendous amount of boat traffic in this area, I had thirty-seven boats on AIS today, a record.  There is a lot of salmon fishing going on.  I watched one boat hauling in a gill net with a good load of salmon coming up with the net.

This evening I have found a float in Taku Harbour, about twenty miles south of Juneau.  It looks like a sheltered spot.  I have a couple of fishing boats for company on the float.  Tomorrow the tide doesn’t turn in my favour until the afternoon and the wind is forecast to be on the nose fifteen knots with three foot seas.  The next anchorage is thirty miles away so motoring will be a struggle and sailing will be a slow job tacking into the wind and current.  Total voyage distance 74.2 miles.