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.

SHORE LEAVE IN BARTLETT COVE

Today started foggy and calm. The idea of crossing Icy Strait didn’t inspire us and we felt lazy.  It seemed a great option to stay in Bartlett Cove. Shore leave and a bit of exploring around the area was the best option. It has been an effort to get to Glacier Bay, another day here to soak up the atmosphere is deserved. Following a leisurely breakfast, we rode the pig into the dock and went for a stroll in the woods.

Calm Morning in Bartlett Cove. photo Ray Penson.
Calm Morning in Bartlett Cove. photo Ray Penson.

After Ngozi being initially cautious about coming across bears in the woods we set off. (I have been looking for bears everywhere and haven’t seen one so the chances of a bear encounter seem low). Nothing really exciting about our walk in the woods, saw a couple of ponds, heaps of trees and read all the park signs. Not much bird life around and just saw a couple of small squirrels looking for their nuts.

There are quite a few people here going into Glacier Bay in Kayaks. They get dropped off from a mother ship and are picked up days later at a pre-arranged location. All their food and accommodation is carried in the Kayaks, they camp out each night. Motorised vessels are banned from many areas of Glacier Bay so the guys in Kayaks have it to themselves. It must be a fantastic way to see the wilderness and get close with the wildlife of Glacier Bay, a bit too basic for my tastes.

We took advantage of the free WiFi at the ranger station to check up on emails. We received news about terrorism in France and other stuff that we have been isolated from for the past week. We posted a couple of logs to the blog as well. If you are following the blog please understand, we can only post when we have WiFi so there may be gaps when we are out of wifi range. Perhaps one day I will get smart and figure out how to post via Iridium Go.

Toady has been a nice relaxing experience and the rain held off for another day. We have been very fortunate with the weather. Tomorrow we must depart Glacier Bay as our permit expires, next stop Hoonah.

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

A VERY EVENTFUL DAY

It stopped raining this morning.  Everything is still wet and the low cloud persists, but not as low as yesterday and in the afternoon it cleared to high cloud and finally the sun popped out for half an hour.

I could not believe that in had to stop for a deer crossing again today.  The deer was swimming across the Surveyor Channel and cut straight in front of me.  When I walked up to the bow to take a photo he saw me and put on a bit of a spurt, deer can swim pretty fast.  A local told me they do this all the time, either to get fresh pasture or escape predators such as wolves.

Bambi on the Port Bow. Photo Ray Penson
Bambi on the Port Bow. Photo Ray Penson

The next surprise was a Sea lion popping up right next to the boat as the deer was still swimming away.  The Sea Lion looked at me, rolled over and disappeared.  A little further on I motored up slowly to a sea otter who was sleeping on the surface, just as I was alongside he woke up, did the double take and crash dived.  All this was in Portlock Harbour, its alive with wildlife.

By low water I arrived at the entrance to Mirror Harbour, the closest anchorage to White Sulphur Hot Pools.  I met an American yacht anchored off, he didn’t want to go inside as there are many rocks and he had been advised not to enter.  I decided to have a look and entered slowly between the breakers, the passage is narrow and full of rocks, usually marked by kelp.

I managed to get past the first part and found that the entrance to Mirror Harbour was blocked at low water, so had to back out.  I then took a side turn into the West Arm where a guy I met in Warm Springs managed to anchor.  As I crept in I found a rock with the keel.

Rock Dodging trying to enter Mirror Bay.Ray Penson
Rock Dodging trying to enter Mirror Bay.Ray Penson

Thankfully, I was doing less than a knot, but it’s a nasty feeling touching bottom, especially a rocky bottom.  After this experience I anchored to launch the dinghy and take some soundings at the entrance to  Mirror Harbour.  I found that at high water slack it would be possible to enter through a narrow section.

However, once inside there would be no exit until another high water slack and I didn’t want to risk the entrance or be confined to a small pool.  So, I picked up anchor and headed out as there was not enough swinging room where I had anchored to stay overnight.

During my trip in the dinghy the outboard started slowing down.  I checked the cooling outlet and the water coming out was hotter than usual, a short time later I stopped the motor as it was overheating, sizzling is the word.  I don’t know why as the cooling water was running OK.  I will read the manual but it doesn’t look good at the moment.

Anyway, after all this excitement I motored around to Porcupine Cove and anchored next to a waterfall.  I was hoping there would be a trail from Porcupine Cove to White Sulphur Hot Springs which is about 2 km south.  I can’t find any trail and as the outboard is out of action it looks like I won’t make the hot pools.  I am very disappointed.

To console myself I cracked open my last can of Lighthouse Brewing Extra Special Bitter.  It has travelled well.

I feel very isolated this evening, there are no other boats around, the swell from the Pacific is entering the anchorage and gently lifting the boat.  It’s a reminder that there is a vast ocean just outside the anchorage.  Total voyage distance 1,302.8 miles.

Logged 27th June 2016

A PLEASANT SURPRISE!

Weather turned out well today, a bit of rain and drizzle in the morning but then it cleared up and I could feel the suns warmth through the clouds.  The sun didn’t get to be serious or cast any shadows but it was there in the background, behind the clouds.  The forecast wind didn’t arrive and it was a flat calm, glassy sea all day.  We motored on, Mr Yanmar doing a fine job again.

Not much wildlife today apart from Dalls Porpoise – the most boring of animals.  It’s dolphins that are fun but I haven’t seen any so far this trip.

Coffman Cove Harbour. Photo Ray Penson.
Coffman Cove Harbour. Photo Ray Penson.

The destination today was Coffman Cove, it looked a decent anchorage on the chart.  Surprise, Surprise.  It’s actually an inhabited place and I tied up at the dock on the third attempt after someone took my lines as I kept being blown off the dock.  The population of Coffman Cove is about 150 but this swells during the summer months as tourists and holiday makers come in.  They get a monthly ferry call.

An exploration ashore discovered an ATM, Post Office, Store and Bar.  Yes, a real bar complete with pool table and tap beer.  Bar population included fishermen and loggers.  I am learning a whole new language, quite difficult when I only understand one word in three and every second word is a swearword.  Style here is ZZ Top beard, baseball cap and serious braces (Suspenders) to hold pants up.

So far I am liking this place.  The people are friendly and open and this is my first experience of the real Alaska.  I may stay another day to soak up the culture.  Total voyage distance 819.1 miles.

Logged 4th June 2016

HUMAN CONTACT AGAIN

Curlew Bay proved to be a nice quiet anchorage and I had a good sleep.  A bit of a late start today, we are heading up to the village of Hartley Bay and it’s not far so no hurry.  The wind was very light from the south and we sailed under the jib slowly up to Hartley Bay.

Approaching Hartley Bay from the South. Photo Ray Penson
Approaching Hartley Bay from the South. Photo Ray Penson

Hartley Bay is an Indian village and the last populated place before Prince Rupert.  There are two other yachts in the harbour this evening, both are American.  Bill off the yacht Nayeli helped me tie up which is always welcome when single handed.  Bill and his wife are also headed up to Glacier Bay and will be travelling North on a similar schedule to me through Grenville Channel.  The other American yacht is going south to Seattle from Sitka.

These people were the first humans I have seen and spoken to since leaving Klemtu last Sunday.  Just by sailing west for a day off the inside passage route, I took myself to a part of BC that is uninhabited and quite remote.  I saw Seals, River Otters, furry animals in the woods, Bald Eagles, Whales, Dolphins, a gruesome Jellyfish, multiple species of Ducks and heaps of trees.  But no bears yet!

Nothing much going on in Hartley Bay on a Sunday night.  It’s a dry village so no drinking alcohol allowed – I will sneak in a tot in the cabin.  Tomorrow I will start up grenville Channel, just need to figure out the tides and current first.  Total voyage distance nautical 556.2 miles.  (That’s 1,030 Km in metric).

Logged 22nd May 2016

OTTERS AND JELLYFISH

The weather blew all night and into today.  A gale warning in place so I decided to sit another day in the cosy anchorage and carry on doing bits and bobs.  The sun came out and the weather was beautiful out of the wind.  I completely filled my day with activities and the time flew by.

River Otter
River Otter

I spent some time watching a River Otter fishing around the boat, he came very close and didn’t see me in the cockpit.  I wanted to take a photo but knew if I moved he would be gone.  There are also some weasel like creatures running around in the woods.  I don’t know what they are but there entertaining.

The mother of all jelly Fish turned up, never seen anything like it.  It looked disgusting, like a big blob of putrefied matter, the colour was yellow changing to orange and red with long thick dark red coloured tentacles.  The thing was very mobile and swimming around not like the usual blobby Jelly Fish.  Just the one.

Some Jellyfish. Photo Ray Penson
Some Jellyfish. Photo Ray Penson

I bought some petrol in Bella Bella to try running the outboard.  Hey presto, it ran this afternoon.  I now need to check the gear oil and get some two stroke oil and I will have a motorised pig.

It’s a full moon tonight and a near five-meter tide.  I reckon that means the weather will be calm tomorrow morning before the forecast North Westerly gale sets in.  If it looks good I will get away early and make some headway before the headwinds kick in.

Logged 20th May 2016. Image: http://www.mnn.com

ONE MONTH TOGETHER

Time has flown by but it’s a month today that I became the owner of Truce. It has been a time of learning, discovery, fixing, installing, repairing and maintaining.

Truce pre purchase inspection at Canoe Cove Marina Vancouver. Photo Ray Penson
Truce pre purchase inspection at Canoe Cove Marina Vancouver. Photo Ray Penson

We have not done much sailing due to lack of or contrary winds, what little sailing we have done has been a pleasure and Truce is clearly a boat that is built to sail. I like just about everything about the boat, she is well built, stout and staunch. She needs some TLC in some areas but there are no urgent projects and I will work to improve and maintain. What I don’t like is the dinghy – renamed the ‘Angry Pig’. It nests beautifully on deck as a good dinghy should do.

The problem is it weighs a ton and is built so solidly it damages just about anything or anyone who gets in its way. Launching the pig is impossible without the use of a halyard and winch, not fun when the wind is blowing. Because its so difficult to launch and retrieve its either spends too much time in the water or on deck, it takes courage to launch and retrieve single handed.

Once in the water the pig tries to attack the stern, rudder and anything else within range. Often when at anchor it will clatter into the side of the boat for no apparent reason, it seems to take pleasure in doing bumps at two in the morning. I am not a fan of inflatable rubber duck dinghies. But unless I can come to terms with the pig, she may be replaced with a rubber ducky.

Today we had a Maintenance Sunday, both boat and personal. The bilges, pumps, batteries, engine and all essential systems get checked on Sunday. As for myself, I had a ‘sanitation Day’ as they say in Nigeria. Beard trim, haircut, cockpit shower and even some deodorant. So all in order, we had an easy motor from Burial Cove through the Chatham Channel to Cutter Cove.

Again we are the only boat here and have the place to myself. This is a very tranquil cove with abundant wildlife swimming and flying around. It’s also supposed to be good for crabbing so my crab pot has been deployed. I am not too hopeful as the crabs don’t seem to like Walmart cat food but we will see the results in the morning. Total voyage distance 229.6 miles.

Logged 1st May 2016

A DAY OUT IN VICTORIA

It was Brass Monkey weather this morning so decided to get the bus to Victoria, good decision the day turned out to be sparkling and once I had warmed up really enjoyed it.

I picked up some tide tables and a guide to Alaska wildlife at Munro’s Bookshop, what a great place.  We now have all the charts and books on board needed for the trip north.

Victoria Harbour and Parliament Building. Photo by Ray Penson
Victoria Harbour and Parliament Building. Photo by Ray Penson
Captain Cook keeping watch on the Victoria traffic. Photo by Captain Ray Penson
Captain Cook keeping watch on the Victoria traffic. Photo by Captain Ray Penson

There is a nice statue of my hero Captain Cook on the harbour side.  He looks a bit glum, perhaps because the birds are shitting on him.

But I expect he put up with plenty of that during his voyages of discovery – so more likely it’s because he is facing inland when he should be overlooking the harbour and out to sea.

PHOTO ON LEFT:  Captain Cook keeping watch on the Victoria traffic

I also picked up a carbon monoxide detector / alarm.  The surveyor noted it as a deficiency and the insurance company thought I should have one.  Really it is a good safety measure as we have oil lamps, gas cooker and a diesel heater on board that could all cause a problem if not properly ventilated.

I installed and tested (its loud!) the detector when I returned to the boat this afternoon.

Carbon Monoxide detector installed in the main cabin Its Monday tomorrow and I am looking forward to getting everything fixed so we can get out of Canoe Cove.  The two show-stoppers are the spreader replacement and the engine parts.

The engine parts, EPIRB, Iridium Go and New Zealand boat stickers are all coming by courier, I expected everything by Saturday and can only hope everything arrives tomorrow so I can get going on installation.  If all goes to plan I could be out of here on Wednesday afternoon at low water.  I still need an electrician to complete the electrical hook ups but that won’t hold me back.

Now it’s time for a sundowner.

Logged 10th April 2016