SPECTACULAR WRANGELL NARROWS

A four thirty start this morning to transit Wrangell Narrows.  As I cast off from Petersburg it was wet, raining, overcast and misty.  The morning has a nice feel to it, very tranquil and the smell of wood smoke from fires on the shore carried across the water.  The rain, mist and cloud lasted all day.  Petersburg is a noisy place, the fish processing works make a din and there are boats coming and going at all hours.

Fishing Lodge on Wrangell Narrows
Fishing Lodge on Wrangell Narrows

Shortly after setting off and going down the channel I noticed that there was very little cooling water coming out of Yanmars back end.  The engine was getting hot and I needed to stop and find the problem.  I quickly ducked out the channel, found a spot to anchor and shut down the engine.  When I opened the seawater strainer and found some weed inside – but not enough to stop the cooling water flowing.  Oh no I thought, I need to change the pump impeller, not a major job but it would take long enough for me to miss the tide.  Time to put the kettle on, have a cup of tea and keep calm.

Visit by a Hummingbird
Visit by a Hummingbird

I then had another look and pushed my finger down the inlet pipe from the sea valve.  It was blocked solid with rubbery weed.  The impeller was OK!  I was unable to hook the weed out from the top so removed the pipe from the seacock (having a wooden bung handy just in case).  The weed still didn’t want to come out, I needed a wire coat hanger, a wonderful versatile tool.  Well, no wire coat hangers on board so I improvised with a variety of kitchen utensils and removed the weed.  Thirty-eight minutes later we were under way again and Mr. Yanmar running happy and cool.

Wrangell Narrows is a spectacular waterway.  This morning the rain and low cloud reduced visibility so I could only see the banks either side.  There is a road leading down the east side from Petersburg and good looking houses are dotted along the shoreline.  I would love to do this transit on a clear sunny day, the scenery must be spectacular with the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop.

Downtown Wrangell during a non rain moment
Downtown Wrangell during a non rain moment

By nine I had popped out the southern end of Wrangell Narrows into Sumner Strait.  I tried sailing but squalls and wind shifts made life difficult and I was actually going backwards at one stage.  The wind eventually shifted to ahead as usual, only about ten knots so I motored.  I had intended to anchor overnight and arrive in Wrangell on Wednesday.  But on account of the miserable weather I decided to push on to Wrangell direct.  Might as well be in the pub if it’s raining.

By four in the afternoon I was tied up in Wrangell and checking in with Boarder Protection.  The harbourmaster advised me not to wash down the boat as there is a water shortage in town!  Well the reservoirs are full but the water processing plant struggles to keep up with the demands of the fish plants.

I have just had a shower and am fit for human company again.  Next on the agenda is the Marine Bar and a pizza.  Status quo, still raining and no sun today.  Total voyage distance 223.5 miles.

A REAL SAILING DAY

Last night was horrid.  The island where I anchored seemed to have its own evil micro climate going on.  The wind came in shrieking squalls, the rain was incessant and the sea came in the bay from around the corner.  We dragged anchor in the early hours – its always the early hours – but it caught again.

That’s the thing about anchorages, they may look good on the chart but it’s the surrounding topography that creates shelter, wind funnels and wave reflectors.  You just don’t know until you have tried it, or you get some local knowledge.  I wont be going back to warren Cove.

At first light we departed, glad to be free of the place.  I waited for first light as there are so many logs about in Sumner Strait.  The new logs are easy to spot, it’s the old gnarly rascals that have been around for years, they barely show above the surface but are very solid.

We had wind for a change, quite squally at first and with rain all day.  But it came from a direction we could use.  Truce got in the groove, put her shoulder down and surged through the waves.  The speed rarely dropped below five knots for hours on end, we sped past our planned stopping place, not wanting to waste the wind.  Tonight it’s another open anchorage called Seclusion Harbour on Kuiu island (don’t ask me to pronounce it).  Fingers crossed the wind and rain abate when the sun goes down.

I was reading the visitors guide to Prince of Wales Island this morning.  June is actually the driest month with less than four inches of rain on average.  That compares with thirteen plus inches in October.  I reckon this June must be an exception, its still raining now and I have bailed about two feet out of the pig in the last two weeks.

Tomorrow I will have a look at Rocky Pass or Keku Strait.  My book says the coastguard have removed the navigational aids to deter people from using the Strait as its dangerous.  Doesn’t sound right to me.  No harm in having a look anyway.  Total voyage distance 1,031.9 miles.

Logged 12th June 2016

MOVING NORTH AND FIRST DOLPHINS

This morning I did final grocery shopping and got a gallon of engine oil for the next oil change coming up soon.  I tried to get a WiFi connection without success.  The only place is the library and that didn’t open until 12:00.  Must say I was not impressed with Craig, its services or people in general.  Happy to be moving on.

Moving North and first Dolphins. Image Credit Referencedotcom
Moving North and first Dolphins. Image Credit Referencedotcom

On leaving the dock the visibility was poor, not fog just a heavy mist and drizzle.  It cleared up when we got away from land and a good breeze sprang up.  I set all sail only for the wind to die immediately after.  I tried sailing later on but gave up after an hour of getting nowhere.  The whales were around again, I had something to take my mind off the wind frustration.

The forecast for today was for southerly winds of 20 knots.  This gave me hope I could get a good days run north.  Unfortunately the winds didn’t arrive so we had a day of motoring and hand steering as the seas were sloppy and the autopilot didn’t like it.

This evening we are anchored in Warren Cove on a place called Warren island at the bottom of Sumner Strait.  Not the best place to be but its my fault, I wasted too much time trying to sail when I should have just motored like all the other sailors do around here.  Coming into the anchorage this evening we were accompanied by a couple of Dolphins.  These are the first dolphins I have seen this trip, great to have them around.

It’s an angry and squally night.  There is a nasty slop coming into the anchorage and joggling everything around on the boat.  It’s also raining cats and dogs again.  Doesn’t look like I will have a comfortable night, looking forward to moving on tomorrow.  Total voyage distance 985.5 miles.

Logged 11th June 2016