2016 Vancouver Island to Glacier Bay

After taking ownership of Truce on the 1st April and a period of maintenance, fitting out and provisioning the boat is now almost ready for the trip north to Alaska.  Not able to wait any longer for outstanding items we set off.  The trip north to Glacier Bay from Canoe Cove covered 1,633 miles, the narrative below is a collection of my blogs, photos and comments about my trip and the events that happened on the way. At the end of the post I will include a list of the places visited with comments about the anchorages along the way.

 I CAN WAIT NO MORE

April 20 2016

This morning I checked again at the marine office for my packages from NZ.  NOTHING! Fourteen days since they left New Zealand, that’s snail mail. That’s it!  I can wait no more.  I am moving out, I feel trapped at Canoe Cove.

I will check back from time to time by phone and maybe get the packages forwarded if they ever turn up. I slipped the mooring at Canoe Cove at mid day and headed out in a northerly direction.  Just a light breeze on the nose but I decided to get some sail on and have a play.

The boat sails beautifully in a light breeze, I just had the jib and staysail up and was playing around with the trim and balance.  Even better the wind vane self steering kept her on rails without any effort.  I was concerned that the self steering would need some decent wind to work but certainly in calm conditions and light wind she worked beautifully and is easy to trim.  The boat seems well balanced and that helps a lot.

After an afternoon and easy sailing I anchored at the east end of Glenthorne Passage on Prevost island.   The anchorage is a sheltered little pool at the end of the passage, protected from the forecast SE wind this evening I hope.

My first day sailing has been magical.  I am still learning the ropes but so far everything is working well and the boat seems to be happy away from the marina after so long – I certainly am.  Sitting in the cockpit in late afternoon sunshine and taking in the scenery on my own boat – magical.

MOVING ON NORTH THROUGH DODD NARROWS

April 21 2016

Had a bit of a blow last night, I could hear the anchor chain rumbling around over my head as I tried to sleep in the forward cabin.  Sleep didn’t come easily, my first night out of the marina and the pent-up excitement and anticipation had the adrenaline pumping around my body.  At 2 in the morning I got up and made a cup of tea, a great British remedy for fixing any event or disaster.  There wasn’t really much wind, just some gusts and rain.  

This morning opened still and calm, perfect.  I took a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit and marvelled at my surroundings. I decided to calibrate the anchor chain at 10 meter intervals with markers, I ran the chain out 10 meters at a time and fixed a cloth marker. I find that cloth stays on remarkably well, is easy to see and doesn’t pollute like the plastic inserts so many people buy from the chandlery. Once marked I re-stowed the chain in the locker. The chain is now nicely marked and I know the markings are correct. 

Later, after morning smoko I set sail about 10:30.  I wasn’t being lazy just waiting to take the tide all the way up through Dodd narrows and up to Nanaimo.  The light wind lasted for 3 hours giving us a gentle sail before it disappeared early in the afternoon and we had to motor the last couple of hours.

I saw the first of the floating logs today.  They are to be a common and unwelcome theme going forward.  Of course I have seen them before from big ships where they are not really any danger to the hull or machinery.  In a small boat like Truce they are best avoided.

Dodd narrows leads into Nanaimo from the South.  The tide can run through here at seven knots so its important to read the tide tables.  We went through the narrows on the last of the flood and got a nice 2 knots push from behind in calm conditions.

An hour after passing Dodd narrows we were tied up alongside the Nanaimo Yacht Club at 17:00.  I had planned a stop in Nanaimo for a couple of days to receive additional items by post and to visit the local chandler (I was recommended this chandler) to purchase a few items.

So far so good the first couple of days out from Canoe Cove have been a good learning opportunity in nice light weather.  I am still very happy with Truce and the little frustrating problems I have been experiencing previously are disappearing.

NANAIMO SHOPPING DAY

April 22 2016

Last night I went for a walk ashore and found a good restaurant to have dinner.  Nanaimo is a far bigger town that I expected and full of hustle and bustle.  There is a nice park and walk along the waterfront and I located the chandlery.  I also came across a good hardware store not far from the marina.

Having scouted the lay of the land last night I ventured out, first to the chandlers.  Items I picked up included solar controller, lifejacket rearm cylinders, oars for the dinghy, a 600ft coil of braid line, 2 Garhauer rope clutches and a gas detector.  The best, most useful item I picked up was a mustimeter – the guy at the chandlery said I must have one on board.  He was absolutely right, such a useful tool.

After returning with my new loot to Truce I headed off to the hardware store.  I love hardware stores, I picked up lots of useful bits and bobs for later on.

Once back on board I registered the new PLB with the New Zealand authorities.  Then fitted the new gas detector.  Once that was up and running I set about installing the new solar controller and with the help of the new mustimeter had it wired up correctly in no time.

Later in the afternoon I took advantage of the Marina laundry to wash the little laundry I had accumulated since Canoe Cove.  Then a nice long hot shower, so nice to have a hot shower after a busy day.

Back on board I made dinner and relaxed with a whisky.  It had been a very good day, I was tired from my efforts and took to bed early.

BOISTEROUS SAILING TODAY NANAIMO TO SCOTTIE BAY

23 April 2016

The berth at the marina is not the best protected, being subject to wind and wave action and wash from passing boats.  I am eager to get away from Nanaimo now I have picked up all the gear I wanted (still no EPIRB).  Two nights and one day alongside here is enough. 

However, before leaving I wanted to pay one last visit to the chandlers.  They had a very nice Dickinson barbeque on sale, could I get it for a price to fit my budget?  I haggled with the store guy but he wouldn’t budge much on price – I was too stubborn to meet him halfway so departed without a barbeque.  The other thing I wanted was a new sailing harness, I saw one yesterday but forgot to buy it.  Turned out the harness was for a small person and didn’t fit.  So a long walk for nothing, but it was good exercise.   

Back at the marina I paid my dues and prepared to sail away.  I let go from the dock at midday and headed north in blustery conditions.  The tide was right for heading across the Strait of Georgia, a strong wind warning was in force, fortunately from an easterly direction to help us along.

It took a while to motor out of the harbour into a stiff headwind and short choppy sea, once we were clear of the channel I set both the jib and staysail and off we went, scooting along at 7 knots with the wind gusting to 25 knots or maybe a bit more.  It was too windy for a full main and I didn’t fancy messing around reefing so left the main snug in its cover.  We made good time across Georgia Strait and entered Bull Passage at the eastern end of Lasqueti Island in boisterous conditions.  The wind dropped in the channel and we had a smooth sail around the top of the Island and along to Scottie Bay.

I dropped the sails and motored into the inner Scottie Bay, a beautiful sheltered cove.  There wasn’t enough room to anchor comfortably and it looked quite busy and noisy with fishing boats.  So I anchored in the open Scottie Bay in 5 m of water. 

The rain and wind has been at it all day today.  The wind is expected to blow from the NW this evening so my anchor position should be sheltered.  I am happy with the progress today, only a short sail but our first time in stronger winds and the boat handled well giving me more confidence, I used the windvane nearly all the way.  Total distance 71 miles.

ELECTRIC DAY AT SCOTTIE BAY

April 24 2016

The weather this morning was nasty and the forecast just as bad, intermittent rain and wind from the direction we want to travel.  So we stayed tucked up in Scottie Bay where the shelter was good.  Now the trip is underway now I don’t feel any pressure to hurry.  Having a day at anchor also allows me to tick a few more jobs off the to do list.  First up was to have a go at the electrics and wiring that I couldn’t find an electrician to do.

I started with wiring in a new lamp at the chart table, an easy job to get me started.  The install went well. it works fine and gives off a nice soft light, ideal for night time use.  Emboldened by this success I took on wiring the AIS.  The AIS antenna had already been run and connected so I only needed to hook up the GPS antenna and power.  I got to work on a plan to run the wires from the electrical buss board around numerous corners, holes and tight spaces.

Around lunchtime I was interrupted by my neighbour who had been fishing in his high powered tender.  He dropped off a nice fresh cod, just caught.  Wow, what a great surprise.  I dropped tools and set about lunch, the cod was wonderful, I ate a huge piece.  I washed it down with a lighthouse lager – this is living well.  My neighbour is on the only other boat at the anchorage, a nice schooner which he is sailing single handed.  His passion is fishing and he told me he is stocking up his freezers to take back to Seattle. 

After such a good lunch I was a bit slow getting back to the electrics.  Finally I had everything hooked up and powered on.  The AIS seemed to be working, I am impressed with the Matsutec display and functions.  I watched an AIS target approach from the north, it was an American tug with a barge in tow.  I called them up on VHF to enquire if they could see my AIS signal.  Yes, came the reply, Truce was showing well.  Truce should be showing up on Marine traffic soon.  I am very pleased with myself, I like the fact I have saved money on an electrician, I also like the fact that i know how it was done.

Late afternoon and the rain has stopped.  I bought a strong stainless steel pad eye pad in Nanaimo that I want to fit just outside the companionway.  This is so I can clip my tether onto the pad eye before I leave the cabin and likewise can get into the cabin before unclipping my harness.  The pad is secured by 4 bolts that I have bolted through the bridge deck.  A very secure arrangement and positioned so that I can move about the cockpit without unclipping.

With that final job completed I set about tidying up the boat and putting the tools away.  It never ceases to amaze me how many tools are needed to do even simple jobs and what chaos it creates.   

PLUMBING DAY

April 25 2016

Didn’t get a good sleep last night, we had gusty winds and the boat was charging about all over the place with the anchor chain and snubber making a terrible racket.  (Another item on the to do list is to work out a different (quieter) snubber arrangement).  Strong wind continues from the NW again this morning, no point in heading into it so staying put in Scottie Bay for another day.

Decided to clear up a few more little jobs on the boat and do some cleaning.  When cleaning the bilge I noticed an unusual amount of water sloshing about.  I bailed it all out and dried up.  Then twenty minutes later there was water again, not much but it wasn’t going away.

After further detective work I found the accumulator tank for the water pressure pump was leaking.  So I took half the boat apart to get to it and removed it to a place I could work on it.  When I opened it up I was met with a disgusting sight.  Yuk, it was full of green slime, made me feel a bit sick – I had been drinking that stuff. I have heard that this type of stuff, Spirulina, is good for you – no thanks.

Anyway, everything happens for a reason, it it hadn’t been leaking I wouldn’t have opened it up and found the slime.  I cleaned everything and used bleach.  I put it all back together and found a bicycle pump on board to give it some pressure and plumbed it back in.  It was still leaking but from a different place now.  Once all the leaks were fixed it was back to normal operation sans slime.  There is still some water in the bilge, I will clean it out tomorrow after any residue has drained down through the limber holes.  At least the bilges are squeeky clean now.

Wildlife started turning up this afternoon.  Lots of different types of ducks and birds, a seal, an otter and an eagle cruising around.  I am taking this as an omen that the weather is turning.  My neighbour in the schooner departed, he is off to another bay to try some more fishing.  I am here alone now and the wind has reduced to a gentle breeze.

The water here is so clear the bottom is clearly visible.  In a quiet period this evening I saw a big crab moving around.  I put the crab pot over, almost on top of him.  I am using small cans of cat food as bait – I don’t have a clue but was told this was the go.  The crab circled the pot but didn’t seem to know how to get inside.  Eventually he gave up and moved on.  No crab protein on the menu this evening.  I am having zero luck with the crab pot, everyone I spoke to before I left said it was a sure thing. 

The outlook for tomorrow is improving with SW’ly winds forecast later to push me on my way.  If we get a good push it aim to be in  Desolation sound tomorrow evening.

SCOTTIE BAY TO SQUUIRREL COVE, DESOLATION SOUND

April 26 2016

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.  Mosquitos are so annoying but I took this ones presence as being a positive indication that the weather had changed to lighter winds.

It was very quiet in the morning on departure from Scottie Bay and I motored for three hours in quiet calm waters before we got a breeze from the south.  Once the breeze set in we were able to sail for the next Seven hours into Desolation Sound.  The day was overcast, light breezes and the sun didn’t manage to get much of 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 another milestone on 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.

Late afternoon the wind died completely, we motored for the final hour into Squirrel Cove, dropping anchor in 8m water just after 6 in the evening.  Once the engine was off it was peace and tranquillity all around.  This is 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 (from the AIS) but I cant see it, its on the other side of a small island and obscured.  Apparently its much different here in the summer when there can be up to a hundred gathered at any one time.  The flying insects are back this evening, I have added insect repellent and fly spray to my provisions list for the next provisions stop.  Voyage distance 121 miles.

SQUIRREL COVE TO FRANCIS BAY VIA CASSEL FALLS

April 27 2016

Wonderful weather today, sunshine and sparkling scenery.  Had a leisurely breakfast and messed around on the boat with little jobs until mid morning.  Earlier the other yacht that had been at the anchorage came by to say hello.  As luck would have it this was the same yacht, Caro Babbo, we had been anchored with on the first night out from Canoe Cove.  On board were Jennifer, her mother Hilary and John.  I mentioned to them I was planning to visit Yuculta Rapids, they hadn’t heard of it and said they would also visit.

After my morning break I weighed anchor and motored out of Squirrel Cove and up Teakerne Arm Marine park.  There was no wind for sailing but motoring at a relaxed pace was fine in the sunshine and warm air.

There is a spectacular waterfall and close by a small float, just big enough to take a couple of small boats.  The only other boat there was Caro Babbo.  I squeezed onto the small float and made fast.  Walking up the track alongside the waterfall I met up with the crew of Caro Babbo and we had a good chat about our plans and boats.  I wasn’t to know it at the time but along the voyage in Alaska we met up with each other numerous times purely by chance.

The destination tonight is Francis Bay which is seven miles from the Yuculta Rapids.  We need to arrive at the rapids just before slack water at about eight tomorrow morning so this is a convenient anchorage.  On the way from Teakerne Arm I sailed for a couple of hours in the lightest of breeze.  We didn’t make much distance but it was nice and peaceful with the engine off and great to watch new snow topped mountains appear around every turn.

I also tried my hand at fishing but obviously don’t have a clue about it.  Just as I was packing my rod a seal popped up next to the boat with a fish in his mouth, as if to say “is this what you are looking for”

Hoping for a calm night tonight as the anchorage is not too good with a hard bottom and the remanets of a logging camp close by.  Voyage distance 146.5 miles.

Tomorrow is another rapids day, this time Green Point Rapids.  Not sure where I will end up tomorrow but not looking for any more rocky bottoms.  Voyage distance 165.4 miles

THROUGH YACULTA RAPIDS TO BICKLEY BAY

April 28 2016

I slept in the salon last night as I tend to do if the weather is nasty or I am in an anchorage that I don’t like.  Its just much easier to get a feel of what is going on through the open hatch and easier to get on deck and have a look around if I need to.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful calm night, clear and starlit.  With no light pollution the stars are spectacular.  A clear morning but bloody freezing,  first a hot cup of soup and then dressed in thermals, 4 layers on top and sea-boots weather.  The layers came off later and by midday it was warm enough for shorts again.

We had an early start to catch the tide and slack water at Yaculta Rapids.  These are my first rapids in Truce and I was interested to see how she behaved. 

The Rapids at Yakulta, Gillard Pass and Dent Rapids were transited without incident.  It’s quite benign at near slack water but I can imagine it can be tricky with the tide running. Having a tiller is a definite advantage in the eddies when the boat is swung off course, it allows immediate rudder action and feel without having to twiddle a wheel about. After the Rapids we entered calm water, flat calm with no wind, so motoring again.

I called at Shoal Bay intending it to be the stop for the night alongside the public float.  I took a walk ashore and had a chat with one of the residents, his dog then bit me. Only a puppy bite, but the bugger drew blood.

On my return to the dock I found they wanted money to lie alongside.  Bloody leeches.  I moved off the dock and anchored just off in the bay.  The anchorage is on a rocky bottom and the chain made a terrible grating noise even through the snubber.  The sound rusty chain over cobblestones and gave a sensation similar to chalk on a blackboard.  Impossible to tolerate.

By this time I had my fill of Shoal Bay.  The anchorage was horrible, the locals wanted money and I had been bitten by a dog.  On top of that the heavens had opened and it was now raining cats and dogs.

Bloodied and soaking wet I picked up anchor and departed.  Luckily, around the corner in Bickley Bay I found I found an excellent anchorage very close to the shore in nine meters mud and shale.  I dropped the anchor, it stopped raining and calm descended.  I rowed the pig out and set the crab pot once again.

The fire is on tonight to dry out my damp clothes and get some warmth through the boat.  Its nice and cosy on board and the anchorage feels good.  I nice whisky nightcap and I will sleep well tonight. Tomorrow is another rapids day, this time Green Point Rapids.  Not sure where I will end up tomorrow but not looking for any more rocky bottoms.  Voyage distance 165.4 miles.

BICKLEY BAY TO SIDNEY BAY, LOUGHBOROUGH CHANNEL

April 29 2016

Today started out windy and and didn’t let up.  If I knew what lay ahead I would have stayed anchored for another day and let the weather pass me by.  Ah, hindsight is a wonderful thing.  We departed Bickley Bay heading towards Greene Point and Chancellor Channel, around Greene Point we ran into rough water and the start of a wicked headwind.  For some time we motored full speed and didn’t seem to make any progress around Greene Point, not very nice.

Once in Chancellor Channel the wind drove directly on the nose and threw up a short choppy sea designed to reduce Truce to a hobby horse, bouncing up and down, shipping spray, making a lot of noise and not going anywhere fast.  I looked at the options, not many, there was nowhere to anchor in the channel, I didn’t fancy a retreat  back the way we had come the only real option was to continue and see if the wind dropped or another alternative would open up.

Well, the headwind didn’t drop so I altered course to starboard and ran up Loughborough Sound, out came the headsail and we has a fast sail up the sound, in the wrong direct to our intended path but the respite from the motoring and stress was welcome. 

I looked into Beaver Inlet for a sheltered place to anchor but the westerly wind was howling out through the entrance, putting me off.  Next I looked into Sidney Bay, this looked more inviting although the wind was still howling from the hills.  Fast running out of options I decided to give Sidney Bay a go. 

As we entered the bay a figure on a float on the south side of the bay indicated I could lie alongside with some arm gestures.  Perfect, I dropped alongside the float and found the south side of the bay to be well sheltered.  Once alongside the Gentleman on the dock requested payment for berthage.  I informed the Gentleman I didn’t have any money and that if he insisted on payment I would go to anchor.  Ah, said my new friend, if I couldn’t pay cash I could do some work to pay for the berth – cleaning accumulated bird shit off the dock.  Seemed a good compromise to me and for the next two hours I cleaned a mountain of guano from the dock.  When I had finished my new friend though I had done well and we cracked a beer together and had a yarn. 

That evening I slept well, being tired from the sailing and motoring efforts together with aching muscles from shovelling bird shit. 

Tomorrow I will hopefully head back down Loughborough sound and continue towards Johnstone Strait. The spring weather around here is certainly up and down.

SIDNEY BAY TO BURIAL COVE – MOTORING

April 30 2016

It’s always good to have a plan B. Today I had a plan B, C and D, Then ended up using plan E.  

The forecast today was for the same strong N W’ly winds as yesterday which would make progress up the Johnstone Strait difficult if not impossible.  As there is no option to using the Johnstone Strait if going north to Alaska and it’s always good to make westerly progress in this notorious waterway when you can.

As the winds are usually lighter in the morning an early start was called for. We slipped away from the float and headed out into Loughborough Channel to get as far as possible down the track before the wind and sea increased.  To get as much shelter as possible we turned off Chancellor Channel and into Wellbore Strait where we had some interesting tidal rips and whirlpools.  This took us past our first selected refuge of Forward Harbour.

From Wellbore channel we turned west into Sunderland Channel, the sky’s turned grey and we had rain but still no wind.  Sunderland Channel seemed a dark and threatening place and I was happy to come out the southern end into Johnstone Strait.  Very soon we passed Mary Island Nook which was the second shelter spot if the wind picked up, but still calm so we motored onwards past Port Neville which was also a shelter possible spot.

Still the good weather held and we turned to starboard around the Broken Islands and into Havannah Channel, finally dropping anchor on a muddy bottom, 4m, in Burial Cove on East Cracroft Island just after 2 in the afternoon.

We are a long way up the Johnstone Strait and good progress made today which I wasn’t expecting this morning, very happy tonight.  We will now take some time to explore the islands and coves on the way before dropping down for a provisions stop at Port McNeill.

I was wondering this afternoon how many places in the world I have been with names starting with Port or Porto. I joined my first ship in Portland, there are hundreds of such places, showing the importance of maritime trade to our recent history.

Since leaving Nanaimo seven days ago I have seen only three other sailing Yachts. It’s still early in the year and most sailing boats heading north haven’t set out yet. Most of the trip so far has been spent motoring.  The wind has for the most part been missing or bang on the nose, both conditions no good for sailing.  Sitting on the bow and using noise cancelling headphones when motoring takes some of the pain away.

Fresh stores on board are running low now, I don’t have a fridge on board so there is a limited life to fresh produce.  Yesterday I baked bread, so nice to have fresh bread on board. Total voyage distance 222.3 miles.

ONE MONTH TOGETHER

May 1 2016

Time has flown by, 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 and a bit of hard work to get here.

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 more TLC in some areas but there are no urgent projects and I will work to improve and maintain as we go along. 

The numerous annoying little problems that plagued me earlier in the month have now almost disappeared as they have been systematically dealt with one by one.  My to list is ever present, as it is on any boat, but shorter now and the urgent projects have all been addressed.

What I don’t like is the dinghy – renamed the ‘Pig’. It nests beautifully on deck as a good dinghy should do.  It also looks at one with the boat when on deck.

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 and determination 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, it’s a malevolent bastard.

Today we had a Maintenance Sunday, both boat and personal. The bilges, pumps, batteries, engine and all essential systems get checked on Sundays.  As for myself, I had a ‘sanitation Day’ as they say in Nigeria.  Beard trim, haircut, cockpit shower and even some deodorant. 

Now all is in order and shipshape we weighed anchor after lunch and had an easy motor from Burial cove, through a narrow cut by Bowers Islands into Chatham Channel before turning off to starboard into Cutter Cove and anchoring on the south side in 4m water.

Again we are the only boat here and I have the place to myself. This is a very tranquil cove today and the holding looks good.  Lots of 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 and I am becoming a bit disillusioned.  We will see the results in the morning. Total voyage distance 229.6 miles.

CUTTER COVE TO POTTS LAGOON

May 2 2016

I had breakfast in the cockpit at 7 this morning in shorts and brilliant sunshine. First job was the retrieve the (empty) crab pot.  The bait had gone!  Are we dealing with some smart crabs that can take the bait and not get caught?  I just need to place the bait better and maybe have better results next time.

The forecast today was not good so only a short hop planned for this morning as we have learnt conditions are usually calmer in the morning around here.  An hour after leaving Cutter Cove we passed through the narrow passage of Blow Hole passage, good fun.  Then it was around the corner into Lagoon Cove.  I had considered spending the night here but it didn’t look very inviting and a light breeze has sprung up.  Out went the headsail and we ghosted along into Cracroft Inlet, heading south west into Clio Channel.  The light wind held and we sailed all the way to the entrance of Potts Lagoon.

One of the guidebooks rates Potts Lagoon as one of the best anchorages on the coast.  We anchored in 6m water and almost immediately the wind started gusting from the south east.  I let a load more anchor chain out and watched to check we were holding.  An hour later the wind swung to the north west and blew hard, I reckon 30 knots plus.  The crab pot stayed on deck this night, I didn’t fancy a trip rowing around in the pig in this wind. 

I saw another yacht today, a large one anchored in a bay some distance off.  Like most nights so far on this trip we are the only boat in the anchorage.  Total voyage distance 238.9 miles.

POTS LAGOON TO ALERT BAY – WHIRLPOOLS AND TIDE RIPS

May 3 2016

I woke up this morning to the same weather forecast as yesterday, gale warning North Westerlies as usual.  The sky was very overcast, low cloud and a chill in the air, one of those very grey days when a warm bunk looks the best option.  But it was quite calm so we kicked off earlt just after six, hoping to get some distance in before the wind kicked in.

We motored out of Potts lagoon and inside Klaoitsis Island before heading down the Baronet Passage. A dark brooding piece of water with strong currents swirling around.  Not very attractive today in the overcast and cold conditions but I am sure it would be very pretty if the sun was shining.  At the end of Baronet passage we headed north west up Blackney passage where we encountered some interesting tide rips and whirlpools full of logs.  The logs slowly rotate in the whilpools and threaten to ding anything in their path.  Steering through cluttered whirlpools without hitting anything is tricky.

On option today was to anchor in Double Bay which should be sheltered from the expected north westerlies, it looks attractive on the chart.  We had a look inside Double Bay and didn’t like to look of it, lots of moorings, old piles and junk around.  The expected wind had still not arrived and as it was only ten in the morning we decided to move on to Alert Bay a few more miles further.

The trip through the Plumper and Pearce Island was interesting and I spotted a couple of places that looked like good anchorages, not sure about the currents though as they seem to be strong around here and local knowledge would be good..

We arived into Alert Bay in pouring Rain and cold at midday.  There is not much wind but I feel it coming the rain is constant.  More wind is now forecast for tonight.  Alert Bay looks like an fascinating place, lots of totems can be seen on shore. If the rain and wind go down I will try and get ashore for a walk around.  In the meantime, the fire is on and its warm and dry inside the boat.

Tomorrow we will take the short hop across to Port McNeill where I hope to pick up a courier package from New Zealand, EPIRB, take on Kerosene, Diesel, Propane, fresh water, food provisions and top up the cocktail cabinet.  A hot shower and laundry will also be on the agenda. Total Voyage distance 260.5 miles.

PORT McNEILL WELCOME

May 4 2016

A nice clear, cold morning and the rain had finally stopped.  I didn’t get ashore yesterday but like the look of the place so may go back at a later date.  The trip across from Alert Bay to Port McNeill was easy with the outgoing tide.

We arrived at Port McNeill mid morning and the dock crew offered to help me with the lines which was welcome, the wind was quite blustery, as a single handed sailor any assistance when docking is always welcome.  Once tied up and secure I checked in at the Harbourmasters office and paid for 3 days berthage.

Later in the morning I had a walk around town, it’s a small place so it didn’t take too long.  Everyone is very welcoming and friendly.  I also found long life milk which is the good news, the downside is that its $4.65 per litre which is an outrageous and five times the NZ price, result is that I still don’t have long life milk on board.

Later I visited the laundromat and now have fresh bedding and clothes again.  I have quite a long list of chores and maintenance items to undertake here.  The good news is that I am now doing maintenance and not fixing things that have gone wrong. I will start with an engine oil change tomorrow morning.

This evening I was invited to an American motor boat for dinner. I had a really nice time, good food and pleasant company. They are leaving tomorrow and also headed towards Alaska so we may meet again further up the track. Total Voyage distance 266.5 miles.

SOME PROGRESS

May 5 2016

Today we had progress, the ships registration documents arrived from NZ along with the graphics for the change of registry.  I received notification that the EPIRB from New Zealand has been released by Canadian Customs after only 28 days in their custody and its on the way to Canoe Cove.  Now I just need to find a way to get hold of it after its been delivered to Canoe Cove. 

This morning I did an oil change on the engine. The old oil has to be sucked out of the dipstick hole with a large bicycle pump type apparatus with a slim hose on the end.  Its impossible to do this operation without oil dribbling everywhere.  What a dumb set up, the Beta Marine engine on our last boat was so easy, just pump out with a lift pump, stick a new filter on and put the new oil in.  I can’t understand why Yanmar are so popular as sail boat engines, they are not easy to work on, or this one seems to be anyway.  The oil change got messy.

Later in the morning I topped up with fresh water, which is supposed to be pure with no additives in Port Mcneill, then filled one of the propane bottles which was empty.  Boat chores completed I started on the Graphics. 

The warm afternoon sun was perfect for working outside the boat and applying graphics.  I was very careful and managed to get everything on straight without screwing it up.  Only the starboard side is done, they look smart.  I will need to turn the boat around to get at the port side.  If it doesn’t rain I will get it finished tomorrow.

My plan is to sail early on Saturday morning to catch a favourable tide up the Queen Charlotte Strait.  But if there is a chance I can get the EPIRB on board in the next couple of days I may delay.  Of course its very frustrating to keep delaying progress and seeing other boats all heading out, but this is the last outstanding safety item so I don’t have much choice. Total Voyage distance 266.5 miles.

THE WAITING GAME

May 6 2016

Once again the waiting game.  The EPIRB was delivered to Canoe Cove by Canada Post today.  The guys at Canoe Cove have done a great job of getting it onto another courier and now its on its way to Port McNeill.  Hopefully, fingers crossed it will arrive tomorrow.

I will miss my sailing window early tomorrow morning.  The forecast is now giving 40 knot N W’ly winds for Saturday and Sunday.  Oh well that’s life, I don’t mind waiting for weather, that’s just nature and it’s out of our control.  Waiting on man-made delays is not so easy to bear.

This morning I did the supermarket and cocktail run.  We are now stocked up for the next leg. I will try and make the remaining diesel on board last until Alaska as fuel prices are said to be lower there.  It should be OK as long as we can do a couple of hours sailing each day.  The Yanmar is turning out to be quite frugal as long as the speed and engine load are moderate.

So we are almost ready for departure. I will take the pig out the water tomorrow morning and put her on deck.  This will be another superhuman effort and hope we can get it done without too much damage to body or structure.

I turned the boat around today in the dock so we are pointing the right way for departure. It doesn’t make any difference really, just feels better.  The starboard side graphics also went on today as did the port of registry marked on the stern.  We are now officially marked as a New Zealand registered vessel.

The weather was beautiful again today and I went for a walk to see the famous Port McNeil Burl.  There is no doubt it is a seriously big burl, its not an official world record apparently, but I can’t imagine there is a lot of competition for the biggest burl.

WATCHING THE WEED GROW

May 7 2016

Still waiting. I expected the courier to turn up today with the EPIRB but he was a no show. I called the dispatcher who sent it from Canoe Cove to learn that the driver doesn’t work weekends and will be back on Monday.  I am getting so frustrated and stressed by this whole saga.  I don’t want to say anything negative so will leave it there.

For the last couple of weeks I have been losing fresh water to the bilge. Just a very small amount, its been so hard to trace.  Looks like I finally found it today.  One of the ‘O’ rings on the Jabsco quick connect port to the accumulator tank seems to be letting water leak when the pressure is off the system.  By good fortune the sports shop in town had a replacement part – very surprising.  I bought the part, fitted it and now the problem is fixed.  So happy about that.

I hoisted the pig out of the water today and put her on deck ready for sailing. It went quite well and nothing got damaged or bruised.  The fresh water got topped up again and the boat had a wash down.

Its Sunday tomorrow and since I will definitely be here until Monday now I will try and have a side trip and take in some culture.  Nothing much else going on today.

A VISIT TO ALERT BAY

May 8 2016

This morning being Sunday is the system check day, batteries, engine, bilge pumps and everything safety and vital. All good.  With nothing much else going on today in Port McNeill I hopped onto a ferry across to Alert Bay for a tourist trip day out.  Alert Bay is an interesting place and in the past had a wild west reputation. The town has a major Nimpkish Indian village adjacent and is a cultural centre for the region.

Killer Whales frequent the place and the locals call it the home of the Killer Whales. I didn’t see any Orca’s around today, maybe they take Sunday off as well.  One of the things I wanted to see was the museum (even Oprah has been) but I got talking to some of the locals and completely forgot about it. Maybe next time.

The wind has blown hard all day from the NW which is where we want to head.  Hopefully tomorrow there will be less headwind and the wayward EPIRB will finally arrive.  I am looking forward to getting out of here and heading towards Prince Rupert.

READY TO SAIL FROM PORT McNEILL

May 9 2016

What a great day, the wind died down overnight and the sun came out to play all day.  The air is cold but nice and warm in the sun.  Dry bilges this morning so no more fresh water coming from somewhere unknown.

The good news today is that finally the EPIRB arrived, some 33 days after leaving New Zealand.  Its now installed, registered and tested OK.  The last piece of the safety equipment is onboard and we are ready to go.

I will wait for the early morning tide on Tuesday.  Around here the tides are important if you have a low powered vessel and can represent 50% of the vessels speed, either positive or negative.  So catching and carrying a favourable tide is important to progress.

When making the morning brew the bottom fell out of my whistling kettle.  A severe blow and I will need a new kettle before heading into more remote areas.  I can boil water in a saucepan but its inconvenient and doesn’t whistle when done.

I took a trip to the hardware store and found a good looking kettle sitting on the shelf.  The guy at the counter wanted the outrageous price of $35 dolars for it.  I tried to bargain.  He pointed out that this was the only kettle for miles around but I was welcome to look elsewhere.  He had a good point and I reluctantly shelled out the $35.  It has turned out to be an excellent purchase, the good looking kettle is still going strong many years later.

This afternoon I did some last minute fresh food shopping and found a couple of surprising items.  First I came across Long Clawson Stilton Cheese.  When I was a boy I worked at the Long Clawson Dairy making Stilton Cheese as a weekend and holiday job.  This brought back memories.

The cheese is in surprisingly good condition considering it has come so far.  I had to buy a bit.  The second surprise was finding Lemon Hart Rum, I am partial to a tot of Lemon Hart so snapped up a bottle.  Lemon Hart is from Guyana and is 101 years younger than Mount Gay Rum (my usual) which was established around 1703 in Barbados.  International trade is a wonderful thing, Cheese from Leicestershire, England  and rum from Guyana in Port McNeill British Columbia, Canada.  Port McNeill is proving to be a treasure trove of items, spare plumbing parts, cheese, rum and kettle.   

Sitting in the cockpit and buoyed by a couple of beers I decided to take on the outboard motor this afternoon.  Mr Suzuki 2 HP has been sitting on the stern rail for the last month, totally neglected.  He is an early model with nine screws holding on the engine cover.  I took him apart and cleaned, lubed and greased various bits and applied the wonder oil WD40 liberally. Then I put him back together minus one large spring that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere.  At some stage I will get some petrol and give him a chance to prove himself.

I don’t like outboards and especially don’t like the idea of petrol and 2 stroke mixture on board, just another fuel and inconvenience.  But some of the places I have been and no doubt more coming up need exploring by small boat and an outboard is really needed to get to places beyond the comfortable rowing distance.  Of course if the outboard breaks down you have to row back but you are at least not rowing there and back.  Ideally I would like an electric outboard, clean, quiet and no need for petrol.  Unfortunately the cost of small electric outboards is prohibitive, maybe the cost will come down as more people use them.

In the morning before sailing I will use the last of the WiFi to send off the application to the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve people.  A permit is required to enter Glacier Bay and only twenty five boats are allowed in at any one time.  The permit can only be applied for 60 days in advance.

An early start tomorrow so will start getting the boat ready this evening.

PORT McNEILL TO MILES INLET

10 May 2016

At six this morning the engine was on, we are eager to get away from Port McNeill after five days festering alongside.  Just after six we were clear of the harbour and heading west to round Malcolm Island before rounding up northwards to our destination, Miles Inlet.

The wind is favourable this morning and now is the time to make progress before the wind shifts around to head us in the afternoon.  The crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait was uneventful, we entered the Miles Inlet channel in the early afternoon.

The anchorage at the end of the channel didn’t disappoint, very sheltered and calm.  Once anchored in 7m water and the engine off everything was peaceful.  This looks like a pretty bomb proof anchorage with good shelter from overhanging trees all around. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. 

I was relaxing in the cockpit reading a book and having a beer when I heard a sound.  I jumped up and recognised my Swedish friend who I had been with in Canoe Cove.  We exchanged greetings and then I remembered I was naked and slipped some shorts on.  For the first time since Desolation Sound I had another boat for company in an anchorage.

My Swedish friend came on board later and we had a good yarn.  He is filming the Nakwakot rapids, the fastest tidal rapids on earth.  He expects to be at it for months and may stay over in the winter.  I think this is a little unusual but it’s a free world.

Later that evening we both severely depleted my cocktail cabinet (Swedes can drink) and I felt no pain as I hit the bunk. 

CAPE CAUTION ASTERN

May 11 2016

I awoke early this morning and felt a bit under the weather.  My head was thumping and I needed some strong coffee and fresh air.  At six the anchor was aweigh and I headed out of Miles Inlet passing close by my Swedish friends boat.  There was no sign of life but his dinghy was moored alongside so I know he got home OK last night.

The wind was too light for sailing and the rough seas wouldn’t let the sails fill without collapsing.  Once again the forecast as for strong northerly winds on the nose and I hoped to be around Cape Caution before they set in otherwise I may have to retreat. 

By nine Cape Caution was one mile off on the starboard beam, the seas were very lumpy and the wind light but we were making good progress.  Cape Caution is one of two major passages on this trip and is only really significant for low powered or sailing vessels as the prevailing winds are not favourable when going north.  Sailing boats are not really suited to this coast and its easy to see why the heavy displacement motor cruisers seen around here are so popular.  We are just dragging all this cloth, string and rigging around for decoration at the moment.  We have motored for 15 hours in the past two days and its time for using some wind power.

The second major passage this trip is Dixon Entrance, this is an open water passage and marks the departure from Canada and the entry to USA waters.  Dixon Entrance is crossed after prince Rupert, I have fond memories of Rupert from many years ago, it will be interesting to return.

Mid morning snack was a Marmite and Branston pickle sandwich, these were the first two jars to tumble out the locker as we were bouncing around so horribly I couldn’t we bothered to look for anything else.  I have had worse combinations.  Not to worry, I will make some culinary delight for dinner tonight.  My favourite food at the moment is Stagg Dynamite Hot Chilli beans from the USA.

Reminds me of the film Blazing saddles.

This afternoon we are anchored in Takush Harbour, not as sheltered as last night but from where we are anchored there is a spectacular view inland cross the harbour of the forested hills with snow-capped mountains beyond. 

All is quiet again this evening with the wind going overhead.  Dinner was excellent and the trip today blew away all the cobwebs from this morning.  Its nice to be on the north side of Cape Caution and I am looking forward to the days ahead.  Total voyage distance 328.6 miles.

WARM ALL DAY

May 12 2016

This morning started with a beautiful sunrise over the mountains and flat calm weather.  The anchorage at Takush Harbour was very peaceful and I had a great nights sleep.

It starts getting light at five in the morning now so no excuse for lying around in bed so had an early start.  I made some scroggin last night, this is a kind of super size energy packed muesli bar.

Its made with all the dried fruits you have, crystallised ginger, oats, peanut butter, honey, oil, butter, brown sugar and a couple of eggs.  No measures necessary just mix it up until its sticky but not wet. Then it gets pressed into a tin and baked for 40 minutes at about 190 degrees C.

I gave this one a dose of rum essence and nutmeg on top.  When I took it out the oven I realised that I forgot to line the baking tin with tin foil.  The scroggin had welded itself to the side of the tin like toffee to a blanket.  It took some serious energy to get the tin clean again.  Anyway, it tastes excellent and is the kind of food that Shackleton and Scott would of approved of I am sure.

Today we headed towards Green Island up the Fitz Hugh Sound.  No wind early so motored until 10:45 when a bit of westerly breeze sprang up.  Sailed under Jib and main for a couple of hours but it was slow going until the wind died away completely.  The sun has been out all day and it’s the warmest day of the voyage.  What a contrast, yesterday I was cold all day and had my heavy jacket on, today was spent in shorts and nothing else.  The temperature variations here are extreme.

This evening we are anchored in Green Island, in 8m water on a mud bottom.  Its just about the perfect anchorage and very pretty, I would be happy anchored here in a blow.  The pig is back in the water again and hopefully will stay there for a while as we are in fairly protected waters.  There is a seal in the anchorage, he seems quite inquisitive.  I went for a row and explore in the pig and the seal kept popping up following me.  Maybe he just wants me off his patch.

There are three Bald Eagles flying high overhead, very gracefully circling around.  There are also seagulls sitting in pine trees – most strange.  The gulls are landing and sitting on the tops of the trees where they droop over at the top.  It’s not easy for them to land and some take three attempts before they manage it.  I don’t know why they are doing it, maybe just showing off.

I put the crab pot down but don’t hold out much hope as the seal has been checking it out.  Total voyage distance 358.3 miles.

 A HARD DAY TO CODVILLE LAGOON

May 13 2016

I woke up this morning feeling great. Green Island anchorage is the best so far, like being in a big wild garden anchorage, sheltered and safe. A commercial fishing boat came in late last night, always a good sign when commercial boats use an anchorage for shelter.  They played rock music and had their generator running for a while, but it didn’t bother me. 

As today is Friday the 13th I considered not going anywhere, just staying, exploring and enjoying this beautiful anchorage.  We all know sailing on the 13th is bad.  I tempted fate and with hindsight staying put and exploring would have been a good option.

We picked up the empty crab pot and cleared out of Green Island, turning up into Fitz Hugh Sound.  All was calm at first and then a light headwind sprang up.  The light wind became a bit stronger and small waves built up.  After a while the speed was down and we continued on into a small chop and headwind.  It went on all day.  To rub salt into the wounds a continuous stream of power launches passed my by, effortlessly pushing the chop aside. 

It was late afternoon when we pulled off into Codville Lagoon and found a good anchorage in the north east corner in 7m water.  It was a relief to turn Mr. Yanmar off.  From the anchorage a trail leads to Sagar Lake.  I tried to find the trail but couldn’t find an opening in the bush ashore.  Defeated I returned to Truce for a rum and coke.

Apart from the headwind and chop the weather today has been bright and sunny, so an excellent day but hard going.

A PIT STOP IN NEW BELLA BELLA

May 14 2016

Yesterday I was getting fed up of headwinds and asked for a break, today we got it.  We set off early this morning to make the most of the usual early calm.  After departing Codville Lagoon we headed across to Lama Passage and headed up to New Bella Bella. 

At New Bella Bella we dropped alongside the fuel dock and bunkered 87 litres of diesel.  I was hoping to bunker in Alaska but the long hours of motoring have consumed more fuel than anticipated.  I picked up a few items from the local store, had a fresh coffee ashore and used a bit of free internet from the small library.  A pleasant stop.

From New Bella Bella we continued on northwards.  I had seen some interesting passages on the chart.  Once in the Seaforth Channel there was a good westerly breeze, we tacked back and forth in the channel making good progress to windward before turning off into Reid Passage and reverting back to motor.   Reid Passage is a good sheltered short cut and on reaching the northernmost end we turned off to port and cut across to Percival Narrows and continued on up Mathieson Channel. 

The wind picked up to gale force in Mathieson Channel and we had an exhilarating ride up to Susan Island where we pulled into Rescue Bay for the night.  We anchored at the south end of the bay in 12m water, good holding.

Another boat, a motor launch came into the anchorage later and anchored close by.  As the evening set in the wind died for a perfect night.  The seals were active all around until twilight.

RESCUE BAY, KLEMTU AND JORGENSEN HARBOUR

May 15 2016

Sunday morning and boat check time again.  All is good on board and after a warm breakfast we weighed anchor and headed out from Rescue Bay.  Prettty miserable weather, overcast and raining. 

Out of Rescue Bay and hard to port to transit through Jackson Narrows with the tide.  From there we proceeded up Jacksons Passage – sounds weird.  Once out of Jackson Passage we crossed over Finlayson Channel and pulled alongside the fuel and fish dock in Klemtu. 

I took a walk ashore, nothing much going on in Klemtu, its only a small place and pretty run down.  The overcast and wet day didn’t help it much.  The only real activity I could see was at the fish plant which was busy processing produce from a nearby fish farm. 

After a couple of hours and not tempted to linger longer we headed off northward again up Tolme Channel before swinging around Split head to point south towards Meyers Passage.  By this time I was getting tired of the wet and cold weather and needed to anchor for the night.  The sides of the channel didn’t seem to provide any suitable place to anchor, I tried McRae cove but found it shallow and unsuitable.  Moving on I tried Jorgensen Harbour, finally finding an anchor spot between the small island and the shore on the northern end.  It wasn’t a comfortable anchorage being a rocky bottom, but OK as long as the wind didn’t get up.

I retreated below and flashed up the fire and made a good hot meal.  Soon I had dried out and warmed up.  Pretty average weather today, all day, and Klemtu was an anti-climax.  Well you cant have sun and dancing girls everyday.

THROUGH MEYERS PASSAGE TO KENT INLET

May 16 2016

Another grey, wet overcast day in BC.  My log book opens with the words ‘ Day opens calm, overcast, cold and silent’.  I was in no hurry to get going this morning and had a bit of a wait to take the tide through Meyers Passage.

At ten we motored through Meyers Passage, a narrow and shallow pass between Princess Royal Island and Swindle Island, it’s not a difficult pass.  On the way through the passage I noticed a perfect anchorage mid-way through the channel on the south side.  If I had carried on for another half an hour yesterday afternoon I could have anchored in a wonderful spot.  Oh well, maybe next time?

This pass allows us to get on the west side of Princess Royal Island and away from the main Alaska Inside Passage highway.  Not that I have seen any evidence of the highway so far.  

Today I saw two cruise ships heading north through Laredo Channel.  They use Larado Channel as part of the inside passage when going north and south along the coast, its nice and scenic for the passengers.  They ships were the Zaandam followed a few miles later by her bigger sister the Noordam.  Both ships flying the Dutch Flag and looking very shipshape.  I also saw the first dolphins of the trip, don’t know what they were, just came up quickly some way off and disappeared.  I am surprised not to have seen more dolphins.

After a couple of false starts the southerly breeze finally set in and we managed to sail for over 4 hours today and give Mr. Yanmar a break.  It wasn’t fast going but we were in no hurry so everything was relaxed.  Unfortunately, there were hundreds of logs floating around so a good lookout had to be kept and frequent dodging to avoid them.  We sailed up the Laredo Channel to the entrance to Kent Inlet.  Then it was time to go back to motor power to navigate the narrow entrance into Kent Inlet. 

Entry into the inlet is through a narrow passage called Philip Narrows.  The narrows are very narrow, only a couple of boat widths wide, not enough room to turn around so I took it slow in case we ran out of water.  The chart said there was an obstruction to the passage but I managed to find the deep water, hugging alongside the north bank and got through without touching anything.

Kent inlet is a magical place.  Its part of the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy area.  The spirit or Kermode bear has a light coloured coat and is endangered.  They only appear on princess Royal Island apparently.  The inlet is totally enclosed and has a tidal waterfall that leads to a large lake, looks interesting.  There is a second waterfall in the inlet and we are anchored close by it.  Its not big but makes an amazing amount of noise in this quiet environment.

Its raining again this evening but if we get fine weather in the morning I will take pig and head over to the tidal waterfall and trek across to the lake inside.  Who knows, I may meet up with a spirit bear.  Total voyage distance 479.6 miles.

IN SPIRIT BEAR COUNTRY

May 17 2016

It rained all day today, apart from a couple of hours when it took a break, in fact we have had at least two days’ worth of rain in one day.  There is a gale blowing outside the anchorage so today was confined to the boat and catching up on odd jobs and relaxing.  I didn’t go ashore, it was just too wet for any fun.  Some gusts have been blowing into the anchorage and pushing us about but it’s quite a sheltered and secure place.

Nothing much to report today, just cleaning, fixing and I made some more bread.  A good occupation when its wet, windy and cold outside.  I also rediscovered a 4 litre box of Sauvignon Blanc that I had stowed away in a safe place.  A bit of a taste shock at first, it’s made from Canadian and imported wines, pretty disgusting.  After the first glass its drinkable, just.  A pity I didn’t find it when my Swedish friend visited.

When I started this trip up the coast I wondered if it would be possible to live for 24 hours without seeing or hearing man-made objects or sounds.  I think I have just done it, there is no sign of man here or any sounds, there are probably jet trails overhead but I can’t see them because its overcast.  Kent Inlet is quite a remote place – I wonder who Kent was?

The forecast for tomorrow is for reducing winds.  If that is the case and the weather is good I will go for a walk in the morning, have a look for a Spirit Bear and then move a bit further up the coast in the afternoon.

KENT INLET TO GILLESPIE CHANNEL

May 18 2016

Rain, Rain and more Rain.  Wind gusts and calms. But this morning opened damp and with a light southerly breeze.  It had rained continually overnight and this morning was wet and miserable.  I forgot about going for a walk and had to bail out the pig who was half full of water.  My options were to stay or move on.  As a North Westerly gale is forecast I decided to move on otherwise I could be trapped for days.  Kent Inlet is an interesting place and it would be good to return in fine weather for a look around.  When its raining its not so flash.

Departing through the narrow passage to Kent Inlet was exciting, the current was flooding at 6 knots and Mr Yanmar needed all his power to get us through.  We crept through going full speed as the water swirled and rushed past us and between the rocks at each side.  I would like to have taken a video but my hands were full of boat.

Once clear of Kent Inlet we headed up Laredo Channel under motor and rippled seas.  There was a promise of Southerly winds, it finally arrived at midday when we set all available sail.  The next 4 hours saw us ticking off the miles as we crossed Caamano Sound and headed up Estaban Sound  with the wind vane in charge.  So nice to be sailing and not many logs around today.

The weather brightened up in the afternoon although it didn’t warm up much.  The afternoon also brought the first whales of the trip.  There were Finback whales swimming up the channel.  They didn’t get too close but it was clear to see that they were finbacks.

I saw a yacht in the distance this morning, the same one I had seen two days previously.  Apart from that there was absolutely no other shipping to be seem and no ships appeared on the AIS all day.  There are not many people around here.

The choice of anchorage for the night was limited and I chose Gillespie Channel as having a couple of options.  Going into Gillespie Channel was another exciting narrow rapidly flowing passage.  Again we needed full power to get through.  Once inside the first anchorage was too deep, we would have needed a stern moor and doing that is much easier with two people.  I moved a couple of miles further in and found a small pool with 12 meters depth.  We are anchored between Bernard Island to the south and Tennant Island to the north in a small pool.  Hopefully Hopefully it will be secure in the upcoming North Westerly gale.

Once we had anchored the sun finally came out at seven this evening.  That prompted a sundowner and the realisation that I am down to my last lemon for Rum and Coke.  The forecast for the next few days is looking horrible for going north with gale force winds on the nose.  I could be here for a while waiting for this spring gale to blow over.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.  Total voyage distance 514.8 miles.

WAITING ON WEATHER

May 19 2016

The forecast for today is North Westerly Gales.  We stayed put in the anchorage and had a nice relaxed day doing cleaning, maintenance, cooking and some splicing.  There is always something to do on a boat and the time flew by.  The sun came out and was nice and warm for a couple of hours but the wind still has a chill in it.

The wind is howling around tonight and squally blasts are spinning us to and fro on the anchor chain.  I put out all the chain tonight, in no use in the locker.  The wind seems to be increasing and the bottom here is rocky and I never feel too confident of holding when its rocky.

The forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same, I checked Predict Wind and they are giving strong North Westerly for the next five days.  Well there are still options and I am in no great hurry to get to Prince Rupert,

OTTERS AND JELLYFISH

May 20 2016

The wind blew all night and into this morning.  A gale warning is in place so I decided to sit another day in this 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.

I spent some time watching an 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 instantly gone  There are also some weasel like creatures running around in the woods and on the foreshore.  I don’t know what they are but its entertaining watching them.

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.

I bought some petrol in Bella Bella to try running the outboard.  I worked on it again this afternoon and hey presto – its running!  I now need to check the gear oil and get some two stroke oil and I will have a motorised pig.

Late afternoon the wind died away and calm descended on my little anchorage pond. I shortened up the anchor chain to 30m ready for a break out tomorrow morning. 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, maybe getting further inland away from the ocean will bring more s

SLOW SAIL TO CERLEW BAY

May 21 2016

Up bright and early today.  Beautiful daybreak and flat calm in Gillespie Channel, the water was like glass.  First thing in the morning is often the best time around here.  Once the anchor was up we motored out and through Gillespie Narrows. 

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 Petrel Channel then Ogden Channel and through Arthur Passage to Prince Rupert rather than the route up Grenville Passage.  However, the prospect of a thirty-mile tack into a building headwind deterred me.  So I headed off up Otter Channel and towards Grenville Channel.

The forecast gale didn’t arrive and instead the wind was from the South and fluky.  We sailed very slowly, drifting at times and only made 30 miles progress all day.  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 sailed into and anchored in 4m water at Curlew Bay on Fin Island, a small island about five miles south of Grenville Channel. All is quiet this evening.

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

HUMAN CONTACT AGAIN, HARTLEY BAY

May 22 1016

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 to get going.  The wind was very light from the south and we sailed under the jib slowly up to Hartley Bay, an easy sail, we arrived mid afternoon.

Hartley Bay is an Indian village and the last populated stopping off point 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).

GRENVILLE CHANNEL, LOWE INLET

May 23 2016

Hartley Bay is an interesting place, I went for an explore last night.  it’s a small Indian community with access by boat, helicopter or seaplane.  There is no road access and in fact no roads.  The village is connected by raised wooden boardwalks upon which ATV’s, quads and Polaris whiz around.  The ground is quite wet so buildings are elevated off the earth and connected by bridges to the boardwalks.  No nightlife so back to Truce for a sundowner and a quiet night moored alongside the dock.

This morning we caught the tide up Grenville Channel, first we sailed, tacking up the channel against the wind, passing Harbour Rock with sealions lounging about making an awful noise.  We covered quite a distance from side to side but didn’t make much actual progress up the channel.  At midday Mr Yanmar was called into action, his mighty 24 horsepower soon has us scooting along, helped by the current.

I have been up and down Grenville Channel in the past on big ships, navigating between Prince Rupert and Vancouver.  I must say, after a few transits on a big ship the channel is quite boring, just water and trees on hills.  The perspective from a small boat is quite different, I am now happy that the weather forced this route on me, I am seeing everything from a new perspective.

This evening we are anchored at Lowe Inlet which is the first anchorage northbound on the channel.  Only one other yacht, the American boat from Harvey Bay, came up the channel.  Not much traffic in Greenville Channel today. today. This evening we are anchored on a ledge at the entrance to Lowe Inlet, just off the shipping channel in 5m water.

A couple of local fishing boats have popped into the inlet for the night as well.  Tomorrow will be a late start to get the lift of the ebb towards Klewnugget Inlet where there is supposed to be the ‘most beautiful’ anchorage.  We will probably have to motor again as the wind will be blowing down the channel towards us.  Total Voyage distance 582.2 miles.

GRENVILLE CHANNEL – CONTINUED

May 24 2016

We caught the tide up Grenville Channel this afternoon, departing from from Lowe Inlet just after midday.  The night at anchor had been comfortable and peaceful.  We anchored just inside the entrance to the inlet on a bank, I expected to be disturbed by the wash from passing ships, but it was all peaceful.  I have only seen two cruise ships so far, its still early in the season.

It was a good job we had the tide behind us today as the North Westerly wind and chop were on the nose and it would have been very heavy going without a push.  This is the last time I will come up Grenville Channel so am making the most of it with three stops planned.  Today we passed the narrow section and a couple of big waterfalls, particularly spectacular is the waterfall at Saunders Creek as it spills from a mountain lake high above.  There are quite a few bald eagles along the Channel, some flying very high, don’t know why they fly so high.

The weather was gloomy today, overcast with the odd rain shower.  The wind was bitterly cold and I had full thermals and multiple layers and still felt the chill.  My thermometer says it was ten degrees, it felt like minis ten.  I expect it will start warming up next month as we get into summer.

This evening we pulled into Klewnuggit Inlet.  The anchorage that I targeted was, as the book said, spectacular.  High mountains and sheer granite cliffs on three sides.  The problem is that high mountains mean an early sunset and late sunrise.  Its gets cold after sunset and I didn’t  fancy an early sunset and long cold night, so moved out to another anchorage.  Its hard to find shallow water here to anchor in, I am in a bay very close to the shore where I found some water less than twenty meters deep, we just have enough room to swing and clear the rocks by the shore.

Tomorrow I expect to overnight at Kumealon Inlet on the north shore of Grenville Channel.  Total voyage distance 599.9 miles.

GRENVILLE CHANNEL – BREAK OUT

25 May 2016

Today it was my intention to have an easy travel up the Granville Channel and stay overnight at Kumealon Inlet.  We had a five o’clock start to get the ebb up the channel and made good time.  The weather was cold, overcast with low cloud and drizzle, but there was no wind and absolute calm.  When we arrived at Kumealon  I decided to continue on and make the most of the calm conditions as north westerly winds had been forecast again.

On we motored, then we had rain and reduced visibility.  We carried on and arrived at Gunboat Harbour on Gibson Island at the top of Granville Channel where we anchored.  Nice to stop the engine and get some peace, I had lunch and a siesta, needed after such an early start.  An hour later I was woken by a bunch of noisy fishermen who were also using the anchorage for rafting up and doing fishy stuff. 

As it was still calm and the tide was turning in our favour I decided to make a hop over to Lawson Harbour just off Porcher Island and anchor there for the night.  Late afternoon we anchored in 6m water in Lawson Harbour, a good anchorage for settled weather. 

Today had been cold again, its four days since we have seen the sun.  I was passed by an American sailor today, he had full cold gear on including woolly hat and thick gloves.  I feel better now, I thought I was being a wimp and needed to harden up.  But other people are feeling the cold as well, its not just me.  I don’t usually wear gloves but will look for some at the next port call.

We did eight and a half hours motoring today, there is no option to motoring when there is no wind if progress is to be made.  We are now clear of Grenville Channel and into more open waters again.  Options for tomorrow are either Prince Rupert or Port Edward.  I may try Port Edward first as I have to clear out from Prince Rupert anyway. Total voyage distance 632.2 miles.

PRINCE RUPERT – THIRTY YEARS ON

May 26 2016

I woke up this morning and it was still raining, damp and cold.  No hurry this morning and no early start, I rolled over in the bunk for another hours kip.  When making tea this morning I got a drip of water on the head, there is a small leak on the overhead skylight.  Not surprising really , the amount of water that has been falling on Truce has been – well a lot.I will get some materials in Prince Rupert and make the hatch good again, also the hatch on the other side as a precaution, when we get some dry weather.  

We set off just after nine from Lawson Harbour towards Port Edward. There was telephone reception so I called ahead enquiring about a berth. The guy gave me a load of drama about how busy they were and I would probably have to raft up.  I then called to Prince Rupert Yacht club and they said there was a berth available.  So Port Edward was bypassed and we continued on to Prince Rupert in the rain.  

The reception at the Prince Rupert Yacht club was very friendly, the guys even turned out to help me tie up.  They have put me in a berth head in to a very tight space.  It’s going to be challenging getting out without hitting anything.  Hopefully it will be calm on Sunday and I can turn the boat around by hand so its pointing in the right direction.

Its 30 years since I had last been to Prince Rupert.  We used to load grain here for China.  The locals were always friendly and our stays were pleasant and good fun.  The stevedores used to fish from the side of the ship and bring up big halibut and were always generous in sharing it about.

Back then Prince Rupert was a small place – it has really grown to quite a big town. It has a shopping mall and Walmart store so its arrived.  The grain silo jetty, where we used to load is still there, the old concrete silos have been replaced with modern steel structures.

This afternoon I had a quick walk around town and the luxury of a hot shower for the first time in two weeks. This evening I will head out to find a fish restaurant and sample some halibut.  I already found the local brewery (by chance) and sampled their Gillnetter Pale Ale – nothing to write home about, but as my mate Jim says – ‘there’s no such thing as a bad beer’.

Total voyage distance 651.4 miles.

PRINCE RUPERT – ESSENTIAL CHORES

May 27 2016

Rain pissed down all day today, heavy in the morning and light in the afternoon and now what a local refers to as Scotch Mist in the evening.  Last night I had a fish dinner, Lemon Sole, very nice fish and fresh.  All washed down with the local brew.  Then back to the boat, all secure in the marina.  Needless to say I slept well.

A busy day today, doing chores as this is the first port call for a couple of weeks. Garbage disposal, two trips to the launderette, ship chandlers for boat stuff, Library for internet access, Canadian Boarder Protection Services to say goodbye, provisions, and general housekeeping.  All good fun and great exercise.  

PRINCE RUPERT – SOCIAL

28 May 2016

Wonderful, it stopped raining – just a light drizzle now and again.  Slowly the damp from the last few days is drying up, it even seemed quite warm in the afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon as I was running around doing chores I bumped into Jennifer and John from Caro Babbo (the first yacht I saw on my way north).  Surprising that we have taken entirely different routes to get here and have arrived on the same day.  Also, last night the American boat I had met in Bella Bella turned up and parked in the dock next to mine.  Small world.

This morning Jennifer and John came over, bringing fresh date muffins.  A wonderful surprise and I broke out the best coffee to entertain them.  Whilst I had the extra hands around I volunteered them to help me turn Truce around at the dock, we are now outward facing for an easy exit tomorrow.

Last chores today before heading off to Ketchikan, topped up the fresh water tanks, did the library visit to get WiFi (so slow), Safeway’s for groceries and chandler for some rope and essential boat things.

I also called ahead to US Customs in Ketchikan to give them all details required for pre arrival.  Apparently, I need a different visa if entering on a pleasure boat, the regular tourist visa is not good enough.  The cost of the new visa is US$550!  I asked why it was not publicised and the customs guy indicated that a lot of people were unaware.  Very helpful, how are you supposed to know the rules if they dont publish them? Oh well I will plead innocence and acted dumb as usual – it comes easy.

The evening was spent on a neighbouring boat which I last saw at the Bella Bella fuel dock.  They are also headed for USA tomorrow and we had a drop of red wine.  The wind blew during the night, not hard just from a funny angle and it pissed down with rain again.  Situation normal.

The forecast for tomorrow is for winds from the south, just what we need.  Let’s hope they arrive in force to speed us into the USA.

ENTERING ALASKA

May 29 2016

Last night I heard a high pitched eagle squawking noise.  A large Bald Eagle had taken a dislike to the wind instruments on a yacht in the marina and decided to demolish them.  Bit of plastic flew everywhere and the poor boat owner will be $1.000 poorer.  It also rained again, continuing intermittently all day today.  I feel like a human wick.  Can’t remember the last time I felt the warmth of the sun.  But, today for the first time this voyage we had wind the right wind combination, from the right direction and the right speed for a while.

We departed Prince Rupert this morning and set sail for Alaska.  Sounds good.  The wind was pretty good for the first part and became light for the last couple of hours in an uncomfortable lumpy sea.

We crossed over the boarder under full sail, creaming along but didn’t see the line in the sea.  This evening we are anchored in Foggy Bay which is the designated anchorage for boats entering into Alaska.  There are a few other boats in the Bay, including Caro Babbo who sailed faster than us to arrive first.  Tomorrow we will continue on to Ketchikan, which is the port of entry to clear into The USA.  Once cleared we should have a cruising permit and be allowed to explore Alaskan waters.  Tonight we are in Alaskan waters but not cleared into Alaska.  Total voyage distance 704.1 miles.

SLOWDOWN DEER CROSSING – CLEARING INTO USA

May 30 2016

A beautiful calm morning at Foggy bay.  There were nine boats anchored overnight but most had gone by the time we weighed anchor at six thirty.  Yesterday I changed the clock to Alaska time, now it gets light ridiculously early at four in the morning.   For a change it was not raining this morning.  The day remained cloudy but things are starting to dry out, I could just detect the suns warmth through the clouds.

When leaving the anchorage there is quite a narrow channel to pass through.  As I was going through a deer jumped out from the shore and swam in front of the boat.  I had to slow down otherwise I would have run it over.  I have been at sea a long time but never had to slow down for a crossing deer before, he was coming from my starboard side so had the right of way.  He was quite a good swimmer and made a good wake.

No wind this morning, we motored up from Foggy Bay to Ketchikan.  On the way we passed a school of Dalls porpoise.  They don’t really do much of interest or play around the bow.  They just come up for air occasionally and keep on swimming.  Maybe they take after whales and not happy dolphins.

On the approach to Ketchikan it started getting busy with more boat traffic and guys out fishing for salmon.  Three large cruise ships are moored in town at the terminal, looks pretty busy.  My American friends tell me Ketchikan is a big tourist destination and can be tacky and expensive.  I will have a look around tomorrow and try not to get ripped off.  It feels a bit strange being back in a big town after all the small places I have been frequenting in BC.

I moored in Thomas basin and awaited the US Boarder Protection visit to clear me into the USA.  A very large officious gentlemen turned up, didn’t want to come on board and instructed me to follow him with the ships papers and my passport to the immigration office.  He had no interest in small talk.

Once in the office I was informed that I should have not come into the USA, my visa was not in order and I needed a B2 visa.  After some time and many questions I was very generously granted a visa waiver.  A further two hours followed during which I was photographed, finger printed and asked a further assortment of questions.  Eventually the document was provided in exchange for $580 and a further fee for a cruising permit.  I skulked back to the boat with all my new paperwork and permits in hand and cracked a beer.  Apparently, I am not the first one to be dumb in this respect.  I think it’s a rort and the attitude of officials could do with some positive adjustment.  I will say no more.

Anyway, I am now free to cruise Alaska until the end of August.  Along the way I and have to check in at each large port so I can be tracked.  Failure to check in results in a massive fine among other nasty things no doubt.  Back on the boat I just wanted to get out of the place but it was too late to sail further so I will be staying the night at Thomas Basin.  Tomorrow I will try and move around to another berth and explore the city.  Total voyage distance 739.6 miles.

KETCHIKAN ASTERN  -WHALES AND SEALIONS

May 31 2016

I woke up this morning at four with light shining into the cabin and the patter of raindrops overhead.  It started raining again last night and is continuing.  It’s hard to believe I was stripped off in the sun only a couple of weeks ago.

This morning I went for a walk around Ketchikan.  A couple of cruise ships came in early and disgorged their thousands of passengers, many dressed in pastel coloured designer outdoor gear, cruise passenger uniform.  I mixed in with them and wandered into a couple of souvenir shops admiring the tat from China, India, Haiti and Bangladesh.  There are some shops with good quality art and jewellery at absolutely eye watering prices.

Part of the old town has been preserved and you can do exciting things like tour Dollys whore house and indulge in historical follies.  Once out of the tourist area the town of Ketchikan looks shoddy and run down.  This is not the Alaska I had come all this way to see.

I made a visit to the supermarket to top up on some fresh fruit and veg.  The selection was disappointing and not as good as Prince Rupert, pretty expensive as well.  By far Prince Rupert has been the best place for storing up outside Victoria.

Being completely fed up with the rain and Ketchikan I decided to head west to try and find some dryer weather.  I left the dock in Thomas Basin just after noon and moved to the fuel dock to fill up with diesel.  I also took the opportunity to buy some petrol and two stroke oil for the outboard.  Having refuelled we headed out to cross the Clarence Strait to Prince of Wales Island.

We had light wind to start and sailed under the Jib.  Then the wind died so we motored for a while before the wind returned with a vengeance.  It blew hard from the SE and we made good time under the jib alone. 

Half way across Clarence Strait I saw what looked like a rock off our starboard bow sticking out the water – Impossible, it was the fluke of a whale sticking up vertically.  I didn’t see the whale but it must have been very big, a humpback maybe.  Later a sea lion came up right alongside the boat with a big fish in his mouth.  He was so close and didn’t seem bothered at all.  I tried to take a shot with the camera but didn’t make it unfortunately. 

Heading into the anchorage this evening we had the usual welcome from the nosey resident seal.   Tonight’s anchorage is Spiral Cove, just west of Trollers Cove.  It looked OK on the chart but I don’t like the look of it, a fishing boat has taken the best spot and I am we are in a rocky place.

I don’t have any firm plans for the next couple of weeks.  Prince of Wales Island looks interesting and worth spending some time around.  I would like to find a nice dry sheltered spot where I can do some maintenance and dry out.  Total voyage distance 762.7 miles.

PRINCE OF WHALES ISLAND – LYMAN HARBOUR

June 1 2016

I didn’t get much sleep last night.  The Spiral Cove anchorage looked promising on the chart but turned out to be a wind funnel and we were hit with gusts all night.  The anchorage was rocky and the navionics chart didn’t seem to fit the reality of the situation.  I slept in the salon and was up frequently to check we were still holding in the same spot. The rain continued all night and into the morning but took a break this afternoon. 

I am on Prince of Wales Island now.  I fancy a look down the west side, it looks interesting and off the usual tourist track.  To get to the west side I will have to go over the top of the island.  It may mean doubling back to get up to Glacier Bay, just have to see what the wind brings.

We sailed up from last nights’ anchorage and had a nice free wind all the way.  I didn’t bother with the main as we were doing above five knots with the jib and we didn’t do a great distance.  No other boats out and about today, there was a small craft advisory issued so they probably stayed tucked up somewhere.

There is a big weather system out in the Pacific bringing warm moist air up from the south.  As this hits the mountains and colder water its turns to heaps of rain.  So this wind is good for sailing, just need to soak up the rain.

This evening I have found a nice sheltered anchorage at Lyman Inner Harbour,  a bit tricky to get into at low water but once inside it’s a nice sheltered basin.  There could be a blow coming so this shelter will be appreciated.  There is a stream entering at the end and three areas of meadow where the grass comes down to the shore.  Looks like bear habitat to me.

Once anchored this evening I launched the pig.  She obviously didn’t like being disturbed and took a chunk out of my ankle.  It seems impossible to launch the beast without suffering some sort of personal damage.  Now the pig is off the deck I will light a fire tonight and warm the boat through.  Tomorrow I will put petrol and a new spark plug in the outboard and see ehat happens.  

Truce and I have been together for two months mow.  I have got the hang of working the boat and now everything has a place and everything is in its place. Just as it should be on a boat.  Everything is working as it should.  No complaints so far.  Total voyage distance 782.2 Miles.

OUTBOARD RUNNING

June 2 2016

Of course it rained all day today on and off, just drizzle and like being in a low cloud.  Did I mention it rains a lot here.  I am in a nice anchorage and quite protected from the high winds blowing outside so made the most of the day.  I got suited up in oilskins and carried on.

Today was declared a rest day and I set about getting the Suzuki outboard motor going.  After some time and effort, I got it going but not for long, kept cutting out and stalling.  I changed out the plug, put some fresh fuel and two stroke in, cleaned out the fuel line and filter and generally did as much cleaning and oiling and WD 40 spraying as I could.  After that TLC we were in business, the motor is running and the pig is motorised. The fact it has taken two months to get the outboard going indicates it wasn’t a top priority.

In celebration I took the pig on a powered exploration of Lyman Anchorage.  It’s a beautiful place, even in the rain, I can imagine it would be spectacular in the dry with sunshine.  At the head of the cove there is a stream entering through a meadow.  I looked around for signs of bear but didn’t find any, a good thing I think.  They are probably sensibly sitting in their caves waiting for the rain to stop.

There are two other meadow areas around the cove where the geese have been busy and making a lot of noise.  When I approached they got even noisier before taking off.  I have been watching a Kingfisher bird fishing on the bank next to the boat, his success record is 100%.  There was an otter in the anchorage this morning and he has been replaced by a seal this afternoon.  There are some animals running around the edge of the forest but don’t know what they are, a bit like squirrels but bigger.  There is a lot of wildlife around here.

This afternoon I made another batch of scroggin.  I couldn’t get all the dried fruit I wanted in Ketchikan so have improvised.  This time I didn’t bother with rum essence, I used the real thing.  The warm baking smell filling the cabin is wonderful and a contrast to the wet and cold outside.

It looks like the weather is wild outside the anchorage tonight, the forecast is for strong winds locally and gales a bit further south.  The occasional express train gust blasts down the hills around the anchorage and hits us, heeling us over and spinning the boat around on the anchor.

I am not sure where we will end up tomorrow, Thorne Bay and Meyers Chuck are on the shortlist.   I think the wind in the morning will decide for us.  The fire will be on again tonight and all will be well on board.  A rum and coke is deserved after the outboard motor success and exertion of shore trips.

 A STORMY NIGHT

June 3 2016

By three this morning the wind had increased to gusts of 40 knots, I let out more chain and had the engine running for a while as we were close to the shore, its only a small pool we are anchored in.  Thankfully all held firm, the bottom seems to be mud over rock.  The rain and windy gusts have continued all day and only at six this evening did the wind ease off and the torrential rain turn to drizzle.

Needless to say, with a gale blowing outside and fifty knot gusts just down the coast  I didn’t move from the anchorage.  So, not much rest last night and a restless day.  I made myself busy with chores and maintenance.  I am splicing some new lifelines and other fun stuff.

The rain we have had in the last week has been tremendous and of biblical proportions.  The barometer is rising now and it appears the southerly storm is abating.  It must be a massive system out in the Pacific to produce so much wind and rain.

Today we had a very low tide, a minus tide and bits of the foreshore were exposed that are normally submerged at low water.  I was watching the Otter running around checking the low water mark, he looked very excited and was skipping all over the place in the pouring rain.  These animals work really hard for their survival.

The Otter was a bit of an inspiration and I got out on deck to do some chores, never mind a bit of rain.  Later I took the pig for a run after bailing out half a boat load of rainwater.  There are quire a few abandoned cables and machinery in the cove, perhaps the remains of an abandoned logging operation.

So nothing much happened today.  Looking forward to moving on when the weather improves.  Lyman Harbour has proved to be a good protected anchorage in a blow.

COFFMAN COVE – A PLEASANT SURPRISE!

June 4 2016

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. 

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.  We motored on northward, Mr Yanmar doing a fine job as usual.

The destination today was Coffman Cove, it looked a decent anchorage on the chart.  Surprise, Surprise, as I rounded into the cove I realised its quite a big settlement, its actually an inhabited place.  I tied up at the dock on the third attempt after someone took my lines as Truce 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.  Looks like I will have to invest in some big as suspenders to fit in here.

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.

FRIENDLY COFFMAN COVE

June 5 2016

I have just had a great day in Coffman Cove.  What a great place and nice people.  Everyone has time for a chat and the locals are very relaxed.  For the first time I feel as if I am in Alaska.

The day opened dry and no rain today, its been cloudy all day but nice and dry.  I took the opportunity to remove the two leaking skylights and re-bed them with new sealant.  All went well until I started rushing the second one when it looked like rain.  I mistakenly put the Perspex back upside down and had to turn it over with mastic sticking to the top.  It was messy, took more time than it should but but cleaned up OK and they will leak no more.

I also installed the new lower lifelines, they look quite smart and my splices of the braid line turned out well.  The fresh water has been topped up and garbage sent ashore, so ready to venture further.

We are experiencing very big tides at the moment, 6 meters today.  It makes navigation interesting and the currents flow even stronger.  The big tides are also bringing thousands of logs into the water as they get picked up from the previous high tide line along the shore.

When I came out of Lyman Anchorage the channel was partially blocked by logs, I managed to go around most of them but one big one was blocking the narrow part of the channel.  I could not get around it without the possibility of grounding, so I very gently pushed it out of the way with the bow to get through.  Another first.

Tomorrow I will get travelling again, I am really enjoying Coffman Cove but need to keep moving. Not sure of my destination, just working my way around Prince of Wales Island.

COFFMAN COVE TO RED BAY

June 6 2016

We left the dock before six this morning, sneaking out early, didn’t want the Harbour Master charging me for an extra night.  I had intended moving from the dock to the anchorage last night, but I had consumed a couple of beers so thought remaining tied up was the best option.

I really enjoyed my stay in Coffman Cove.  A great little place, special thanks to Larry for his hospitality and generous gift of fresh shrimps, also to Stephanie behind the bar.

We sailed gently for a couple of hours before the wind died and the tide turned against us.  I dropped anchor in West Island Bay and waited for the next tide change.  The tides are quite tricky here and it pays to catch a good run.  Around one in the afternoon we set off again with flat calm glassy seas, so flat the clouds and mountains were reflected.  The sun started showing through the clouds before the clouds cleared late afternoon.  A beautiful day.

We motored up the Kashevarof passage and into Sumner Strait, a very scenic run.  There was the usual wildlife and quite a few whales around the tide lines.  This evening I have anchored in Red Bay at the top of Prince of Wales Island.  We had to push through a four knot stream to get into the bay, once inside it opened out to an Alaska picture postcard scene.

I found a nice cove to anchor in 8m water and a soft bottom. Then I fished the shrimps out of the cool box.  I was so hungry the first half dozen got quickly cooked and washed down with a beer.  Wonderful, the best shrimp I have ever tasted.  I then got to work making Thai Curry shrimp.  I was a bit limited on ingredients but with an onion, green curry paste, chilli flakes, coconut milk and some imagination I came up with a feast, Sharwoods Mango Chutney for condiments.  I put some jam into the leftover rice for desert.  What a feast.

I ate in the cockpit at seven in warm sunshine.  The deer are coming out of the forest fringe into the meadow, all very peaceful.  No bears yet.  Although I did see some bear marks on the trash cans in Coffman Cove.  Today was the best day in Alaska so far I think.  Total voyage distance 848.1 miles.

RED BAY TO MARBLE CREEK WITH SEA OTTERS

June 7 2016

Wonderful sparkling clear and calm weather today, perfect for motor boating.  The evening and night anchored in Red Bay had been perfect.  Clear skies and spectacular scenery, a very restful night. 

This morning we shot out of Red Bay, ten knots over the ground with the current behind us.  We carried the tide down to Port Protection where I tied up to a public float for a few hours to rest and await a more favourable tide.

Port protection is a small place, just a base for fishing really.  The harbour is well protected and the name was given after the Chatham and Discovery sheltered there from a severe storm in Sumner strait.  I was invited to have a beer with the fishing guys but declined as I needed to get a bit further down the track today.  Drinking with fishing guys would have led to another night tied up and a headache the next morning.

By four in the afternoon we had cleared out of Port Protection and headed south down Sumner Strait towards El Capitan Passage.  I know this is the wrong direction for Glacier Bay but I have time, the Glacier Bay permit starts on the 9th July.  This part of Alaska is not on the inside passage route and not that well visited so well worth a look.  I don’t quite know how I am going to get back north yet; I expect the weather will have a say.

Since starting the voyage I have been on the lookout for Sea Otters.  Today I saw the first ones and then they were everywhere.  They are really interesting to watch and don’t seem at all frightened of humans.  I had three by the boat playing around, floating on their backs while cracking sea urchins on their chests.

They are very cheeky characters and much bigger close up than I expected.  I had a whale surface quite close in front of the boat this afternoon, I thought about slowing down but at five knots we are pretty slow anyway and he seemed aware of our presence. 

The anchorage this evening is in Marble Creek, where there is a marble mine I guess.  We found a good anchorage in 5m water.  Total voyage distance 883.4 miles.

EL CAPITANO PASSAGE

June 8 2016

The day started flat calm and the sun shone.  A wonderful morning, the air was cool but by nine it was warm enough for shorts and t shirt.  Taking advantage of the warmth I opened up the boat, all hatches, carpet and bedding out in the sun, a good cleaning and airing and now everything is fresh again.

Also did a bake, had fresh bread with cheese for lunch, sitting in the cockpit, with a Lighthouse Special Bitter Ale.  Perfect, I could almost live on fresh bread and beer. Alaska is turning on the weather now, I feel its compensation for enduring all the cold wet and windy days.

Today was an afternoon sailing to transit El Capitano Passage.  This passage a seven foot depth with a minimum twenty meter width.  It seems a lot less than twenty meters wide in places but its well-marked and the channel is easy to navigate, we transited at high tide so there was plenty of water under the keel.

Along the passage are numerous bays and islands with Sea Otters and Eagles everywhere.  We were the only vessel in the passage and I only saw one other boat, a fishing vessel, all day.  I really enjoyed this passage, a very beautiful and magical place, its one of the highlights of the voyage so far.

It was another motoring day, what little wind there was came from ahead.  This evening we have anchored in Sarker Cove, off a long abandoned gold mining town called Deweyville.  From the boat I can’t see much of the town, just a couple of rotten huts.  I will explore further in the morning.

When coming into the anchorage I was just about to anchor when there was a great commotion just astern.  A seal had got a fish on the surface and an eagle was trying to get it.  I am not sure who got the fish first, the Eagle I suspect.  Whatever, the seal won the prize and the eagle took off and perched in his tree just astern of where we anchored.

There are deer on the edge of the trees, they come out and munch on the grass by the shoreline and then retreat back into the woods.  I saw them doing the same thing in the early evening in Red Bay a few days ago. The wildlife is very real here.  Total voyage distance 904.3 miles.

DRIFTING WITH HUMPBACKS

June 9 2016

Nice soft continuous rain from early morning to around nine, no wind just gentle drizzle.  Then it cleared up but was cloudy all day.  I went to explore the ruins of Deweyville this morning.  The Suzuki outboard is humming along nicely now and is a happy starter, easier than rowing on longer trips.  I couldn’t find the ruins, I found a couple of old sheds but they had plywood in the construction and I don’t think Dewey had access to plywood.  I looked for young undergrowth and other sign of a town.  After fifteen minutes, being nice and wet by this time, I decided that I wasn’t really interested in seeing the ruins anyway.  I have seen plenty of ruins before and even sailed on a couple.

When time came to depart the anchorage I had trouble getting the anchor up.  It was fouled on something pretty solid.  After a combination of heaving and motoring ahead and astern I managed to get the anchor up to just below the surface and found it was fouled with a heavy steel cable.  I got a line around the cable, hung it off from the bow and dropped the anchor down, free of the obstruction.  The cable is now back on the seabed waiting to catch some other unfortunate sailor.  That was my morning workout, quite exhausting.

From Deweyville we headed around El Capitan Island to visit the small Indian village of Tokeen.  When we arrived dock space was pretty tight and it didn’t look too inviting, sort of dark and damp.  So we carried on.

This detour to visit Token meant we had to use Skookumchuck pass to get back on our route south.  On entering the pass a large whale blew right in front of the boat.  I stopped the engine and drifted with the current through the pass.  For the next hour I was treated to a whale show with at least four humpbacks, one blew very close astern, a great explosive exhalation and plume of fine spray, fishy flavour.

The pass is quite narrow and the whales were diving very close to the shore, just a few meters off the rocks.  They were doing the bubble ring thing but not surfacing through the bubbles for some reason.  One of the humpbacks was raising a fin and bringing it down on the water with a loud thud and splash.  The sound of their blowing is awesome when there is no background noise, it’s a funny feeling to know such massive creatures are swimming just under the boat.  A truly magical experience and so unexpected.

After the whale experience I didn’t want to use the engine so sailed in a fickle wind for the next couple of hours.  We didn’t make many miles but enjoyed the sounds of the eagles and otters without the engine blocking everything out.

This evening I am still on a high from the whale experience.  To be drifting in complete silence with them was something I never expected.  I tried getting some photos but missed the real close up ones.

Tonight we are anchored in a place called Winter Harbour in 8m water.  It has a gravel road running down to it and I went for a walk in the early evening.  Didn’t see much apart from trees.  Total voyage distance 923.6 miles.

FIRST SUMMER FOG – ARRIVAL CRAIG 

June 10 2016

At five this morning we departed Winter Harbour in thick fog, visibility less than one cable.  The night had been peaceful and once again we were the only boat in the anchorage.

With the radar and Navionics chart backed up with echo sounder, magnetic compass and eyeball it was slow going picking through the islands towards Tonowek Narrows.  As the Sea Otters appeared from the fog they had to be checked as not being logs in disguise.  It was quite amusing watching their old men whiskery faces with enquiring looks as they floated past.  As soon as they saw a human they disappeared in an instant underwater.

An hour after departing from Winter Harbour the fog started lifting as the sun rose higher.  As we entered Tonewek Narrows Narrows the fog lifted and the sun shone through.  The water was glassy calm all morning.  In the narrows there is an Indian burial site guarded by a large wooden carving of a man standing at the edge of the trees.  Quite eerie, a giant wooden gingerbread man peering out of the woods.

Later in the morning we were slowly catching a group of whales, perhaps the same group as I saw yesterday.  They were about a mile ahead and travelling in the same direction.  Its hard to count whales as they don’t all appear at the same time but it looked like five in the group.  One had a large blow and one quite small, perhaps a mother and calf.  After about an hour they turned around and started coming back towards the boat but spread out.  I noticed they were taking three or four breaths on the surface and then diving down for a long period of around 3 minutes.  As they dive down it’s a wonderful sight to see the tail come slowly out of the water and disappear as ifs driving the whale down.  There is a great power and weight in that tail.

At midday we berthed in Craig.  I need to do a food restock and get some fresh produce plus do the laundry before heading out again.  Walking around the town I found a café and had a good fresh coffee and cake – luxury.  I am at a crossroads tonight.  I don’t know if I should continue south and complete the circumnavigation of Prince of Wales Island or start heading north again.  The forecast is for Southerly winds, maybe the north option is best.  But the previous forecast southerly winds have not been strong enough for sailing.  The trip across Sumner Strait from Craig is about 60 miles and that requires a good steady consistent wind.  I will sleep on it.  I still have shopping to compete in the morning anyway.  Total voyage distance 950.3 miles.

MOVING NORTH AND FIRST DOLPHINS

June 11 2016

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.  It’s a bit of a dump really, perhaps that’s why the people are grumpy.  Happy to be moving on.

I took the garbage ashore and topped off the fresh water tanks before letting go from the dock mid morning.  The weather was overcast and the visibility was poor, not a fog just a fine drizzle and mist.  Once clear of the land the weather brightened up and a westerly breeze sprang up allowing us to sail for an hour before the breeze abruptly shut down.  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.  As so often happens around here the winds didn’t arrive so we had a day of intermittent sailing and motoring, I hand steered 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.  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.  We anchored in 7m of water on a rocky bottom.  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.

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.

WARREN BAY TO SECLUSION HARBOUR

June 12 2016

Well, I was right, it was an uncomfortable night at Warren Cove.  Windy weather with heavy rain squalls, around one in the morning the anchor started dragging but held a little later.  I slept fitfully in the salon waiting for dawn to break.  As the sun rose the wind decreased but remained squally with low overhead cloud.  By five the anchor was aweigh and we were motoring out of Warren Cove, never to return.

 Once clear of Warren Island the wind became a bit steadier and we sailed under jib alone up past Cape Pole and started up the Sumner Strait.  By eight the wind had settled more and we had a reefed main and jib, an hour later were able to set the full mainsail for a beautiful sail up Sumner Strait. Truce put her shoulder down and we surged up Sumner Strait, the speed rarely dropping below six knots

 The anchorage for tonight is in Seclusion Harbour tucked up in Three Mile Arm, we dropped anchor in 8m water on a rocky bottom.  The anchorage feels quite open and there is a bit of a chop coming in.  Its raining again and the wind is around twenty knots.  For a change there is another boat in the anchorage, a large motor launch with a bunch of guys on board, looks like a hunting and fishing trip.

 Today we had a good sail, I am tired, it was a stressful night last night and I am looking for a good rest after a couple of nips of whisky.

 PULLED A SICKIE TODAY

 June 13 2016

I woke up this morning not feeling too chipper.  A blinding headache and serious 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 tasted 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.  Craig got its revenge for me calling it a dump.

Anyway, it was still raining and miserable so I decided to have a day off.  Not had a sick day yet on this trip so its allowed.  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 perked up and turned into a cleaning machine in the galley and all is sparkling again. 

I took a late lunch in the cockpit and felt much better.  The sun was warm now and I wore not much as nature intended in brilliant sunshine and flat calm.  Beautiful scenery around and all was well again.  The forecast is for westerly winds so later 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 tucked behind a couple of islands on the west side of Seclusion Harbour.  We came quite close to the bottom.  But, the small indentation i selected looked calm and sheltered.  After some sniffing around and numerous turns I found the spot to drop anchor.  We are quite close to the shore in 8m water. 

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, the blue and white halyard looks very smart.

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’.  The Salami has been consigned to the deep.

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.

KEKU STRAIT AND ROCKY PASS

June 14 2016

I spent a peaceful night with no disturbances.  Seclusion Harbour is well named, just the place to get away from it all and the anchorage proved to be perfect.  Sun rise was just after four, the animals were up and about early and making noise.  The morning was flat calm and sunny as I picked up anchor and headed over to the south end of Keku Strait.  We dodged a few rocky patches on the way and sea Otters were all around, it felt great to be alive on such a beautiful peaceful morning.

Keku Strait separates Kuiu Island from Kupreanof Island and is a direct route from Sumner Strait to Frederick Sound.  My guide book says ‘The Coastguard removed all navigational markers to discourage its use’.  That’s a bit like saying ‘this road is dangerous so we will remove the road signs and lane markers’ not a responsible thing to do.  Anyway, the book was clearly wrong as all but two navigational markers were in place, one of the missing marker was a pile and the other was a buoy that had broken lose and washed up on the shore.  The strait is very well marked and passage through is straightforward for any competent boat owner.

The buoyage system here is IALA B.  That is to say that in general when entering port you leave the red buoy or marker to Starboard and green to Port.  In the Keku Strait the tide floods from both ends and ebbs from somewhere in the middle.  The markers remain the same side throughout the strait so there should be no confusion.  I marked my right hand thumb with red ink as a reminder in case I became confused.

The strait is spectacular, dotted with islands and meadow areas.  The backdrop is rolling wooded hills with snow-capped mountains away to the west.  Half way through the strait after a twisty section called The Devils Elbow I found a spot at the summit and anchored for an hour, had an early lunch and savoured the scenery.  The only other people about were a group of kayakers going north through the strait.  I do like waving to kayakers as they have to stop paddling and put the paddle down before they can wave back.

After the lunch stop we dropped down from the summit into more open waters and found a good anchorage for the night in Stedman Cove in 5m water on a soft bottom.  I feel happy this evening, we have had a couple of beautiful days and the transit of Rocky pass was another highlight of the trip. 

PIT STOP IN KAKE

June 15 2016

Alaska turned on the heater today, a beautiful warm, sunny and clear day, the warmest day so far.  After a peaceful night is Steadman Cove we started late and motored up to Kake with the tide on flat calm water.  After seeing no other boats yesterday suddenly they were everywhere.  At one stage I had ten showing on the AIS.

I found the fuel dock at Kake, it’s not well marked and easy to miss.  The dock is connected to the local store and gas station which is very handy.  I took the opportunity to top up on diesel then set out to fill an empty propane cylinder.

I found the propane station in an adjacent yard but the guy didn’t want to fill the bottle as it does not have a OPD (overfill prevention Device).  This is a problem as in the USA gas bottles must have an OPD.  I need the gas bottles for cooking so must find a fix to the problem.  It will be a larger town where hopefully I can get new valves fitted to the existing bottles or new bottles.  Fortunately, I was able to get a part fill of the Canadian bottle after some pleading.  From now on I will go easy on my remaining half full gas bottle (or is it half empty?).

On leaving Kake there was a bit of wind so I ghosted back the way I had come in the morning and found a nice anchorage in Hamilton Harbour which was heavily populated with crab pots.  Feeling energetic I changed the engine oil, a nasty job that I don’t like but must be done.

Tomorrow I could go east, west or north, I don’t really mind.  East will take me to Petersburg and gas service, shops and chandler, North will take me to Admiralty Island and West will lead to Baranof Island.  If there is a breeze in the morning I will take it whichever direction.  Total voyage distance 1,079.7 miles.

CROSSING CHATHAM STRAIT TO RED BLUFF BAY

June 16 2016

This evening we are anchored in Reb Bluff Bay on Baranof Island.  The cruising guide describes this bay as a spectacular location – it is!  We anchored in a small bay at the head of Red Bluff Bay in 10m water, looks like a good spot.  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 weighed anchor and motored in flat calm and sunshine.  In the distance I could see fog lying over Frederick Sound and as we passed through the Keku Islands the fog enveloped us.  Visibility was down to about 50 meters and I was rock dodging, not nice but at slow speed we got through and an hour later the fog cleared with the wind setting 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 blew hard, 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 in the anchorage.

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 soak would be welcome.  Total voyage distance 1,114.8 miles.

WARM SPINGS BAY

June 17 2016

The birds started their dawn chorus at 03:20 this morning.  I know this because an uncomfortable wind was blowing into the anchorage, I started keeping an anchor watch in the early hours.

I am now receiving Sitka radio on AM and they kept me company in the early morning hours.  But why is country music so depressing, especially early morning,  they should sing about happy things not just lost dogs and sweethearts.

We depredated Red Bluff Cove early morning and picked up the forecast South Easterly winds.  It was bitterly cold in sharp contrast to the last few days.  With the wind blowing up the strait we started sailing in the right direction at a good rate.  However, after twenty minutes the wind reduced and we were left wallowing in a murderous mix of confused sea, wind against tide .  We rolled our guts out, the worst seas this trip, just small short waves at the right height and frequency to send Truce into convulsions.  The motor went on and we motored north.  Now the dinghy became a battering ram, surfing on the short seas and clattering into the stern.  No mater what length of painter I paid out the pig would not behave.  Thoroughly pissed off by this treacherous behaviour and freezing cold I pulled into a small cove and hoisted the pig on board in record time without injury for a change.

Next in my firing line was the crab pot. Last night I put out the pot after a few days of not bothering.  This morning when I picked it up it was devoid of crabs as usual and just contained a small flat fish.  I am fed up lugging the crab pot around and now it is starting to bleed rust down the paintwork on the stern.  I haven’t caught any crabs and have actually gone off the idea of eating crab.  With little fanfare I cut the crabpot loose and it disappeared into the waters of Chatham Strait.  Feels better now the crab pot is gone, one less thing to think about – less baggage.

By now I was shivering cold and wet.  My mood was dark as we approached Warm Springs Bay.  Immediately upon rounding into the bay the weather improved and the air felt warmer.  I peeled off a couple of layers of clothing, immediately feeling in a better mood.  There is a huge waterfall discharging into the head of the bay and a free floating dock to tie up to.  A couple of guys helped me tie up to the dock, I was thankful as the current from the waterfall was making coming alongside difficult. 

Ashore is a delight, there is a trail leading to a beautiful lake and some natural hot springs and bathing pools overlooking a spectacular waterfall.  There are also some hot tubs near the dock with fabulous views out over the bay and mountains.  I took a couple of beers into the hot tub and lay soaking in wonderful hot water looking out at the snow-capped mountains beyond.  Magical.  It was so good I went back again in the evening for another soak.

Hot Tub Room with a View. Photo ray Penson

I now feel warm all through, right to the core.  I smell a bit like a rotten egg, which may be an  improvement. Later in the evening I shared a beer with my new friends and met up with another Kiwi (well another ex Brit really) sailor, Steve on his beautiful yacht Rhapsody. Feeling warm again and securely tied to the dock with extra lines I was able to fully relax. Total voyage distance 1,135.5 miles.

IN HOT WATER

June 19 2016

Baranof hot Springs, stayed another day it’s so good and that turned into two days.  Beautiful walks around the lake, scrumping fruit off the bushes and hot pools.  Needless to say the weather has been fine and sunny all day.  Plus an active social life with other float dwellers who are partial to a sundowner or two.

Another boat came in today with a couple that I met previously in Hartley Bay.  It’s a small world up here.  I have been doing odd jobs, walking, socialising, bathing in hot pools and generally having a good time.

On Sunday morning I was feeling the effects of a late night.  I was invited onto an American boat for dinner, and had a great time with Bob, Noel and Steve the wine flowed and the company was good.  To bring some discipline into my life a set about the Sunday morning chores and checks.  A couple of additional jobs needed doing, one was clipping and securing the cables for the AIS that had been outstanding for so long, the other was fixing a small leak on an opening port light in the salon. 

Having toiled away all morning I packed a backpack and went for a walk in the woods.  It was a sparkling day with crystal clear visibility, the sun was actually hot.  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.  In the woods by a lake I found salmon berry bushes full of fruit, lovely sweet fresh berries.  I walked for miles, the sea legs may be aching tomorrow. 

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.

I have really enjoyed the hot springs, the walks and company,  But its time to move on tomorrow.  I will take one final hot tub this evening and then get a good nights sleep.

HUMPBACK BREACHING

June 20 2016

Thank you Warm Springs Bay, I had a most enjoyable stay and the weather has been fabulous.  I feel rested, refreshed, relaxed and ready for continued adventures.  After three nights alongside the dock it really is time to move on.  My new friends, Steve, Bob and Noel have all departed north and south and I was in the company of fishing boats and their crews last night.

We sailed at eight this morning to ride the tide up Chatham Strait.  The forecast was for southerly winds ten knots.  As it was a light wind forecast I left the dinghy in the water.  When we got out into the strait the wind picked up and the short seas from the quarter made life very uncomfortable, once again Chatham Strait proved difficult.  It was obvious the dinghy had to get on deck or she would be lost.  I ran for shelter into Takatz Bay and in calm water hoisted the dinghy on deck and set off again.  What a relief not to have the pig dragging behind threatening to destroy the self-steering trim tab.

Once out in Chatham Strait again the wind increased and the rain arrived.  I knew it would rain, the forecast said ‘Chance of showers’ in Alaska that usually means it’s going to piss down.  Under the jib with wind from astern we made six knots and this attracted the Dolphins who came to play around the bow.  These were the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin variety, real show offs.  They stayed for about twenty minutes, I stood on the bow shouting and whistling at them, which I am sure they appreciated and enjoyed.

Mid morning the wind eased and a little further on I was surprised to see a Humpback Whale breach about a mile ahead.  A few minutes later it breached again but closer, we were sailing towards the whales who were moving slowly in the same direction as us.  I got a couple of photos, but when the whale breached very close by the camera didn’t take the shot.  Maybe I was too excited and didn’t tap the screen hard enough.  What a shame it would have been an excellent close up shot.

In all my time at sea I have never seen a Whale breach.  Being on a small boat close to the action makes you realise what a huge event this is.  The power required to launch that huge body out of the water is immense, the splash on re-entry is huge and the sound like thunder, crump.  A truly awesome experience and I feel privileged to have witnessed it.  This was something special. I don’t know why but Dolphins and Whales make me feel so happy.

Tonight I have anchored in Appleton Cove, just off Peril Strait at the top of Baranof Island in 12 m water on a muddy bottom.  Its not a very inspiring anchorage and I should have tried harder to find a better place to anchor.  The wind has turned northerly and is gusty with rain squalls.  Tomorrow I will plan a transit of Peril Strait and then down towards Sitka.  Total voyage distance 1,173.9 miles.

SOUNDS, STRAITS, CHANNELS AND NARROWS

June 21 2016

Today has been a long day motoring.  It’s been a day of calculating the tides and timing the passage down towards Sitka.  Its also been a brilliant, interesting and exciting day.  This morning we caught the tide down Hoonah Sound then Peril Strait, Sergius Channel, Kukul Narrows, Salisbury Sound, Neva Strait and finally Olga Strait.

Unfortunately no sunshine today, just a grey overcast, occasional misty rain and almost no wind.  Just a damp Alaskan brooding day.  In Hoonah Sound I saw Humpbacks breaching again.  The whales were about half a mile away, one particular whale appears to be the breaching star, I saw it breach at least 4 times. 

Peril Strait was awesome, the tide swept us along at a good pace.  There was a lot of boat traffic about, fishing boats, pleasure boats, ferries, large charter boats, expedition yachts and fast runabouts zipping around.

The current at Sergius Narrows was running hard and we swept through so fast I barely had time to look at the scenery.  The ferry Columbia had just passed through before us and must have been an interesting sight, I am sure the mate on watch would have been concentrating on the job!

 Once through Sergius narrows we headed through Kakul narrows, quite fast but not as exciting as Sergius narrows.  Then it was an easy motor through Neva Strait and Olga Strait.  This evening I was a bit stumped on where to anchor for the night, we had passed a couple of decent anchorages on the way but now didn’t seem to have any other options. I had hoped to find an anchorage among the numerous islands between Olga Strait and Sitka.  However on closer inspection and reference to the chart they looked very inhospitable. 

I Finally settled on Cedar Cove at the head of Katlinn Bay, anchoring in 9m of water on a soft bottom.  I was relieved to anchor, the engine has been running for nine hours today.  The anchorage looks good and its quiet an peaceful. 

Tomorrow it’s just a two hour run down to Sitka.  I am looking forward to a shower, laundry and some fresh provisions.  Total voyage distance 1,221.0 miles.

ARRIVAL SITKA

June 22 2016

The sun rose this morning to perfect calm, water like a mirror and the mountains reflecting upside down.  Cedar Cove had given me a great nights sleep.  I had a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit in glorious warm sunshine and a view that money could not buy.

At midday we weighed anchor and motored down Kaitlian Bay, it was a nice easy couple of hours trip down from the anchorage to Sitka where the harbourmaster allocated Truce a berth for two days.  Once tied up I gave the US Boarder protection guys a call and checked in, (Foreign boats have a cruising permit and need to check in at each major port along the way), with the formalities out of the way I headed off to sample the delights of Sitka.

First stop ashore was the chandlers, which is conveniently close to the dock,  to get a few spares for ongoing repair and maintenance.  When you have a boat it’s a never ending job keeping everything running smoothly.  I am replacing a toilet inlet hose and a non-return valve in the bilge pump system – not very glamorous jobs but its easier to maintain now than fix later if it goes wrong, prevention is better than cure.

I also need a new strainer for the engine raw water cooling inlet, the type on board is quite old and I am not hopeful of getting a replacement.  Anyway I took the old strainer up to the chandlers as a sample.  The guy behind the counter said, Ah yes, I know it exactly, we had one sitting on the shelf over there for eight years – a guy came in last week and bought it!  He didn’t know the manufacturer, part number or model it had been there so long the records had been lost.  Almost lucky.

The thing I must do this port call is get USA compatible gas bottles.  The guy at the chandlery said he had the same problem as me, he got new bottles as there is nowhere to change out valves in Sitka.  I will hunt around tomorrow and find a solution.  I also have a good pile of laundry and need some fresh food.

This evening I had a nice shower and am ready to socialise with people again.  Tomorrow after my chores I will have a look around town and do the tourist thing – plenty of tourists here with the cruise ships that seem to rotate like clockwork.  So far I am liking Sitka.  Total voyage distance 1,229.7 miles.

BUSY IN SITKA

June 23 2016

Today has been full on action all day. This morning I undertook 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 hundred and one other little outstanding jobs.  We are now shipshape again, all outstanding chores are finished and ready to go

In the afternoon I found a hardware store selling propane bottles.  I purchased two for what I thought was a good price and they now sit proudly on board, just need to get them full of gas now.  There is plenty of activity on the docks, hammering, welding, grinding and testing of machinery, mainly fishing boats preparing to depart for fishing. 

Having done my duties for the day I headed into town and found a good pub, serving beer on tap and good wholesome food.  I stocked up before walking back to Truce for a good nights sleep.  Still enjoying Sitka.

ENJOYING SITKA

June 24 2016

It’s been an overcast, brooding, low cloud type of day in Sitka, no real rain just a few sprinkles, the sun didn’t get a look in. I am not complaining, its been a great day out in Sitka.

The harbourmaster provided a berth for another night, allowing me a free day to do the tourist stuff.  I had a good walk around Sitka a couple of times.  There was a cruise ship in port and the town was quite busy with passengers.  Despite all the additional people around it didn’t feel crowded, the locals remained friendly, relaxed and accommodating.  What a contrast to Ketchikan.  Later in the evening when cruise ship had departed the streets were quiet but there was a good buzz in the pub.  I am surprised to see smoking at the bar, took me back in time a bit.

In the middle of town there is an impressive old building, the Sitka Pioneers Home.  It has a bit of history and is on the National register of Historic places.  It houses elderly people and they have a craft shop where they sell interesting stuff hand made on site.  In front of the building is an impressive totem.  It tells a story that is far too long to remember.  But – the frog and bear at the bottom came out the earth, the guy on top is the head of the past Russian American company sitting on the Russian Bear, the two headed eagle represents the Russian traders, the Indian is a chief who fought the Russians, it’s a long story on a long stick.

I also spent some time in the restored Russian Orthodox Bishops house.  The Parks Service have put on an historical display and videos etc – a fascinating insight into the goings on of the Russians and the Russian American company at the time.  Certainly those explorers, missionary’s, trappers, prospectors and traders were tough and resourceful.

Tomorrow I am on the go again.  I will top up with fresh water in the morning before heading out.  There is no hurry as I won’t be catching the tide through Neva Strait until six in the evening.  I will have to backtrack through Olga and Neva Straits, I don’t like backtracking but don’t really have an option if I am to continue going north.  If the weather is good I will cross Salisbury Sound and head outside of Chichagof Island the following day.

HEADING NORTH TO KALININ BAY

June 25 2016

This morning I filled the new gas bottles and dropped off the old ones for scrap.  I also topped off the fresh water tanks.  The fuel situation looks good, we have about 70% remaining which should last quite a while, no need to bunker yet.  Late morning we departed Sitka after a good three night stay.   The day started overcast, low cloud and wet from overnight rain.  By mid-morning the rain started again and has lasted all day and into the night.  The sun didn’t show up today.

The wind was from the south and we tried a bit of sailing but bit was quite a dismal affair in the rain.  The wind died again and we just drifted for a couple of hours waiting for the tide to turn in out favour.  Later, the tide sucked us through Neva Strait in calm wet conditions.  We then motored around to Kalinin Bay where we found a good soft anchorage in 6m of water. 

This evening there are three other boats in the anchorage.  This must be the busiest anchorage we have been in since leaving Vancover Island two and a half months ago.  Summer season in Alaska seems to be cranking up.  The damp conditions at the nchorage precluded socialising. 

The radio informs me there is a strong wind warning in place for tomorrow.  If it’s windy in the morning I will stay in the anchorage.  If the weather looks good I will head up the coast a bit further.  Total voyage distance 1,256.1 miles.

KIMSHAN COVE, CHICHAGOF ISLAND

June 26 2016

Many times when crossing the North Pacific by ship I have looked at the chart and wondered about Chichagof Island.  In my mind the name has a mystery and provokes thoughts of early Russian explores and traders.  Well, I am here now, I can see it, although I have yet to set foot on its wet soggy ground.  All I have seen so far is mist, low cloud, a few hundred thousand tress and lots of rain.

This morning I set out in the hope of a good sail up the coast, leaving Kalinin Bay behind before seven.  There was a small craft advisory issued with South Easterly winds, 25 knots.  Once clear of Kruzof Island the wind filled in from the south and we had a brilliant sail up the west coast of Chichagof Island with full sail and about fifteen knots of breeze.  By mid morning the wind gods went home, we were left wallowing in a lumpy sea going nowhere.  The quartering sea and beam swell made life uncomfortable, neither Truce or I like the sea from the stern quarter without any wind, she squirms and rolls and I hang on swearing at anything and everything.  Mr. Yanmar was called into action to get us somewhere calm.  Then it started raining in the fashion that inspired Noah to take up shipbuilding.  Well at least the rain calmed the sea a bit.

After an hour or so in the blender we made Smooth Channel, interestingly Smooth Channel is immediately to the east of Rough Channel.  Once we rounded Guide Rock the channel did indeed become smooth as the sheltering islands broke up the sea and swell. 

We motored up Smooth Channel and Ogden Passage before turning into Kimshan Cove for the night, anchoring at the east end of the cove in 9m water just after one in the afternoon.  We were wet and bedraggled.  This seems to be typical Alaska, two or three glorious days followed by a couple of shockers.  No sun again today.  It’s funny how the mind works, after a short time you forget the horrid days and just remember the good ones.

Once at anchor I dried off and warmed up with a brew.  Then got to making some bread, a couple of hours later the cabin was warm and full of the smell of fresh bread, lovely.  There are the remains of a jetty and some buildings on the shore, part of an abandoned gold mining venture on Dooth Mountain close by.  No sign of humans ashore now, just some deer feeding on the grass between the trees and water’s edge.

The whales made an appearance again today, one was breaching, coming out of the water vertically and then arching over onto its back.  It gave me quite a fright at first as I saw the splash ahead and thought we were running into breakers, we were running in-between rocks awash at the time. 

Tomorrow I will make an effort to get to White Sulphur Hot Springs.  A fisherman told me about them, supposed to be fantastic with a newly built cabin and hot pool.  The only access is by boat.  Entry into the anchorage is tricky and requires local knowledge but my fisherman friend says it’s not too bad and most of the rocks are visible.  Of course, it’s the visible rocks that you don’t normally bump into!  I will plan my entry for low water and go up with the tide.  Total voyage distance 1,284.7 miles.

A VERY EVENTFUL DAY

June 27 2016

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. This is the second time this trip I have slowed down for a crossing deer.

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, very comical.  Seabirds, ducks and eagles were everywhere.  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, carefully.  Looking over the side I could clearly see the rocks either side of the keel.  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 at slow speed, by this time I had figured out the dangerous rocks could easily be seen by the kelp on them.  Unfortunately I found a rock with no kelp on it, we bumped into it at very slow speed but the sudden shock was awful. 

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 but at low water it was not even possible to get the dinghy through the entrance without touching bottom.

Later I sent a message to the insurers advising them that I had touched bottom and the details of the event.  I am sure that no serious damage has occurred but its always best to put the insurers on notice just in case.  At the next haul out I will do a complete check of the keel. 

Although I could get into Mirror Harbour, once inside there would be no exit until another high water slack.  I didn’t like the idea much, didn’t fancy being confined to a small pool.  So, I picked up anchor and gingerly headed out the way we had come in 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.

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 sick 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 am really unhappy about bumping into a rock with Truce.  There was no need for it, it was careless of me.  I have become so used to rock dodging and entering tight spaces I have become complacent.  I promise to be more careful in future.

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.

ARRIVED PELICAN

June 28 2016

Porcupine Cove provided a peaceful night, Truce gently rolling with the low swell coming into the anchorage.  The waterfall woke me up a couple of times, I thought it was wind one time and another time thought it was a boat coming alongside.  I think I was sleeping lightly due to all the action yesterday and frustration at not making it to White Sulphur Hot Springs.  By six we were heading out past the breakers and around into Lisianski Strait.  This section of coast is spectacular, wild and rugged but no place to be in bad weather or fog.

The trip up Lisianski Strait was under motor in calm waters.  There was a lone Humpback Whale working along the tideline and a couple of porpoise turned up for a couple of minutes.  What is wrong with porpoise; they just don’t know how to have fun, they are like depressed Dolphins.  I think they need to lighten up and start frolicking a bit more.

A little more marine traffic around now, we passed a couple of fishing boats.  At the north end of Lisianski we turned to starboard and headed across to Pelican, our destination for tonight.  By lunchtime we were alongside the dock in Pelican, I have parked just next to the Seaplane dock, the harbourmaster says that OK for a temporary berth. 

The place looks interesting and a quick trip ashore proved that the inhabitants are very friendly.  A fisherman gave me a beautiful piece of Salmon he had just caught; it will last me for a week.  I pan fried the first piece for a late lunch, what a treat, fresh salmon is so beautiful and rich. The remainder I am cooking now as I don’t have a fridge on board – a special cooking technique using an ancient Thai recipe.

Tonight I will try the world famous Roses Bar.  Rose is apparently in her eighties but still makes it behind the bar despite a couple of slips recently.  Total voyage distance 1,324.2 miles.

REST DAY IN PELICAN

June 29 2016

Last night I dined on poached salmon, home cooked on board.  Wow, this salmon is so rich, I will have to take it easy.  After that I decamped to Roses Bar to partake of some Alaskan IPA.  It’s not the most salubrious establishment but fully functional.  There I met some interesting characters including Red, a fisherman, who is now my new best mate in Pelican (No, he doesn’t have a bike with a basket or wear a hood).  Red has promised to heap more salmon onto me.

The morning was spent cleaning the boat and washing down.  Its nice weather, sunny between the clouds and I am parked next to the seaplane float. There is a lot of coming and going as the planes load and offload, many people stopping by for a chat.  Pelican is a very friendly place.

I realised last night when I returned to the boat that I had left my phone on the bench outside the library.  I was sitting on the bench with some other locals using the wifi signal.  When the library opened this morning I went up to see if anyone had handed my phone in.  The lady at the library said there was a phone but she would not give it to me until I could describe it to her.  After some time I managed to convince her that I was the owner of the phone.  Nice lady.  Thank goodness for small town honesty.

I also opened up Mr Suzuki outboard on the dock to try and find out why he is getting hot, numerous passers-by offered advice of varying degrees of helpfulness.  One guy professed to being an outboard expert and said the engine is cooked.  He may be right, we shall see.  I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with Suzuki so flushed out his various cooling orifices with fresh water and hope the problem goes away.  I will give it a run at the next opportunity to see the result.

The offshore salmon fishing season opens on the 1st July and the harbour is rapidly filling up with fishing boats from the more inland ports.  From Pelican it’s a quick trip down Lisianski Strait to the ocean and the fishing grounds.  Shaping up to be a busy night ashore, there may be a few more in the pub tonight.

It looks like I need an early start tomorrow to catch the tide around to Elfin Cove.  I hope the weather is calmer than today, its blowing directly down the strait from the direction I want to go.  Tomorrow I should see the mountains over Glacier Bay for the first time.

ELFIN COVE ARRIVAL

June 30 2016

My new friend Red stopped by last night with a beautiful thick piece of King Salmon.  I cooked some of it for lunch today – I am stuffed.  There is still more to eat, what a delight and a chore.

Last night in Roses Bar I met a lady from Anchorage who has 57 dogs for pulling sledges.  Interesting to hear how they work and travel.  The dogs can cover fifty miles a day easily, camp out at night and do it again the next day.  Apparently, its not a good idea to fall off the sledge as the dogs don’t stop, they just keep pulling.  Seemingly, the dogs are not too smart and usually end up in a tangle or wrapped around a tree, but that could be some distance away.  A bit like falling overboard when the boat is on wind-vane I suppose, but in that case the boat would just continue over the horizon.

I enjoyed my stay in Pelican, described on one sign as ‘a drinking village with a fishing problem’.  I have seen other places in Alaska described in a similar way.  They certainly do catch a lot of fish.

This morning was raining, wet, overcast, misty and generally damp all over, we departed early.  Gradually it cleared and this afternoon I had a spectacular view of Glacier Bay mountains and the Brady Glacier in the distance across Cross Sound.

This morning we crossed fifty-eight degrees North.  It sounds a lot but in reality it’s the same as North Scotland, I used to work much higher latitudes in the North Sea.  It’s just the topography here make it so unique in close proximity to the mighty North Pacific Ocean and its massive weather systems.

On the trip up from Pelican I saw a whale ahead.  I was standing in the cockpit looking ahead for him and he surfaced next to the boat.  The first I knew was when I heard the explosive sound of his exhale, I nearly jumped out my skin.  I saw the first Puffins today, my book tells me they are Horned Puffins and not tufted Puffins.  Just before lunch we were tied up to the dock at Elfin Cove.  Once again right next to the seaplane dock.

Yesterday I was doing a bit of cleaning up and contemplating where all the hair and bits come from.  It’s the human body of course, constantly shedding skin and hair.  I then got to thinking that the boat is a bit like a spaceship, self-contained, life support systems on board and you can’t get off once underway.  Now on a boat all the body bits get swept up and dumped overboard, its easy.  But what about in a spaceship or a spacesuit?  Could a stray clump of belly button fluff shut down a spaceship?  I bet NASA know a lot about body bit management and how to stop stray hairs fouling up oxygen generators.  Maybe that was why the first astronauts were all clean shaved before a mission.  The Russians must have cracked the problem early, they sent a hairy monkey on the first flight (Imagine trying to shave a monkey).  Now astronauts are spending longer in space do they dump the body bit in space – to drift off into the universe, spreading DNA?  Interesting thought.

Anyway, Elfin Cove looks like an interesting place.  Its built on boardwalks around a double cove.  Like Pelican the winter population shrinks to about fifty or sixty hardy souls.  There is a school, post office, store, fuel dock and bar-restaurant.  Holiday homes and fishing lodges are springing up around the cove.  At the moment its buzzing with fishermen.  Tomorrow I may head over to the North side of Cross Sound towards Brady Glacier – weather dependent.  Total voyage distance 1,343.1 miles.

RELAXING, ELFIN COVE

July 1 2016

This morning I arose at five thirty as usual, had a look around and was not too impressed, raining.  Then I listened to the weather forecast, quite average.  My bed still had a bit of warmth in it – so I jumped back in for another hour of sleep.

Around ten in the morning I decided to head out and stowed all the moveable things away.  Just before starting the engine I listened to the forecast again, there was an update, more of the same not nice for Icy Strait and Cross Sound.  As it was still raining and generally miserable I decided to stay alongside the dock, it’s a nice dock.  Time to enjoy Elfin Cove a bit.  Also, being next to the seaplane float there is a stream of people coming and going to provide entertainment. 

We are now three months into the trip and the boat and I are getting along famously.  All the little niggles and wrinkles have been ironed out and life on board is easy now.  Just the regular maintenance to undertake weekly to keep everything running well.

I like watching seaplane the pilots come into the dock, after landing they head for the dock, switch off their engines and then jump out the cockpit onto the float and tie up.  It’s quite skilful, they must stuff it up sometimes.  I will keep watching.

I have walked around the boardwalk at Elfin Cove numerous times now.  There is an old Labrador dog who welcomes me each time I go ashore and walks around with me, he has a stick that needs throwing and retrieving of course. there is a store in Elfin cove and I took the opportunity to see what they had in case I needed any top up of supplies, I wasn’t expecting much in such a small place. To my surprise the store was packed, floor to ceiling with goodies. Apart from the staples a truly amazing selection of sauces, condiments, jams, biscuits and snacks. I took advantage and stocked up on some treats.

The guys from the fishing lodge by the dock went out this morning and came back with heaps of fish.  The lodge has staff on hand who spend hours filleting the fish at the dock, in the rain, packaging it up for dispatch by seaplane, to the customers’ homes I suppose.

This evening a fishing boat has rafted up alongside me.  Mark, the skipper, is my new best mate in Elfin, he has promises to load me up with salmon in the morning.  There is a nice little Nordhaven coastal cruiser moored behind me with a retired couple on board from Sidney on Vancouver Island, I saw them in Sitka.  Rosemary (the lady) came across with some fresh apples and a chocolate bar – my first chocolate for 3 months, (I don’t buy sweet stuff) what a treat.

The forecast for tomorrow is for 30 knots in Icy Strait, if it stays like that I will stay like this, at the dock.  No point in going out and getting beaten up, this is supposed to be a pleasure cruise of course.

VIEW OF BRADY GLACIER

July 2 2016

My new friend 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.  This salmon is wonderful stuff and I am so fortunate that (for some reason) I keep getting gifted it.  However, I have been stuffed with salmon for the last few days and not sure how much I can take before exploding.

It rained all night but cleared up in the morning.  The forecast of bad weather had disappeared overnight.  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, the sun came out and it got quite warm.  The views are magnificent.

Unfortunately, Fern Harbour proved to be unsuitable 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.  I found a good anchorage in 9m of water on a mud bottom. 

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.

SIDE TRIP TO NOWHERE

July 3 2016

This morning opened damp and misty, a constant light 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 night 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 in a circular formation, it looked like they were having an important meeting.  The food must be abundant around here to support so many otters.

late afternoon I was back in my anchorage from the previous night. Another boat came into the anchorage with a family on board. We exchanged pleasantries from afar, it is too wet to go visiting. Lunch was salmon as was dinner this evening, now it’s finished.  That’s good, I need a change from a Salmon diet.  Total voyage distance 1,375.4 miles.

INIAN ISLAND

July 4 2016

I awoke this morning to thick fog, a sign summer is here.  The fog cleared in the early morning and the sun came out.  For a few hours the weather was glorious, calm and sunny.  Then a brisk westerly wind set in around sunset finally rain again.  A real mixed up day but plenty of variety.

Late 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 tide.  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.

There is a bit more traffic about now, cruise ships, fishing boats and pleasure craft.  The fishing season seems in full swing, the fishing guys all look very serious and intent on getting to where they are going.

The anchorage at Inian Island is supposed to be sheltered but this evening is a little draughty and there seems to be a current swirling about in the cove.  I anchored in 8m and the bottom feels hard and rocky. With the wind and current we are not lying very comfortably to the anchor.  I hope the wind dies down later as the singing in the rigging and surging at anchor is not conducive to a good sleep.

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.

ICY STRAIT TO PORT FREDERICK

July 5 2016

Last night was uncomfortable, gusty winds into the anchorage, nothing serious just disturbing and restless.  In the late evening I paid out more chain and was rewarded with the wind decreasing after midnight.  I was up early and eager to escape from Inian Cove. 

Today we moved east down Icy Strait and into Port Frederick which is just past Hoonah.  The cruise ship Noordam came past as we left the anchorage at six this morning and I encountered a few more cruise ships on the way during the day.  Once out the anchorage and into Icy Strait 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.

There was not much breeze, just a gentle westerly getting enough puff now and again to get us sailing and give the engine a rest.  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 difficult to find a clear spot to drop anchor.  Eventually I found a good spot in 13m of water on a soft bottom.

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 I will get a good nights sleep tonight, welcome after last nights fitful affair.  Total voyage distance 1,427.8 miles.

SMELL THE ROSES

July 6 2016

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 and not finding a suitable anchorage I decided to return to North Bight where I had anchored the previous night.  This time I ventured deeper into the end of the bay and found a nice anchorage in a pool at the head of the bay in 6m of water on a muddy bottom.

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.  I am looking forward to a shower, laundry and interacting with humans again. Looking forward even more to Ngozi arriving on soon.  Total voyage distance 1,435.8 miles.

ALONGSIDE HOONAH, COMPANY AGAIN

July 7 2016

The weather is getting warmer now or maybe this bit of Alaska is warmer I am not sure.  Last night was very peaceful and calm.  This morning opened to fine weather and sunshine.  After breakfast I weighed anchor and we 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 the winters are comparatively mild I am informed. The marina at Hoonah is protected by a large breakwater.  We have been allocated a berth at the end of the pier which is nice and easy to get away from when the time comes.  Upon arrival I made my call to boarder protection to notify my position, they seemed very disinterested.  

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 more years.

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.  It has been a long trip for her from new Zealand.  Now I have company again which is really nice and we have a bit to catch up on.  

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.

HANGING AROUND HOONAH

July 8 2016

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 type of screw ever made.

After provisioning we migrated to Icy Strait Brewing, a small microbrewery, to sample the wares.  Unexpectedly good beer and the bonus of fresh 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.

During our walk about today we came across a shed where a bunch of guys were doing a large carving.  The four timber 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.  Very therapeutic watching the carvers at work.  

A Gentleman, 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, I didn’t find my phone but had a quick beer while I looked for it.  Luckily, I later found the phone on the boat so panic over and a return to normal stress levels. 

Truce is now topped off with fresh water, heaps of food on board and all systems checked ready to depart in the morning to Glacier Bay.  The wind forecast is on the nose and the tides arnt great but an early start should get us a ood way alng the track before any wind sets in.  We are looking forward to crossing Icy strait and entering Glacier Bay.

ARRIVAL GLACIER BAY

July 9 2016

Today we arrived in Glacier Bay.  It’s been a long winding road to get here from Vancouver Island.


The trip across Icy Strait this morning was easy, the forecast headwinds didn’t turn up and we motored most of the way from Hoonah.  The entry to Glacier Bay was shrouded in thick fog that cleared as we approached Bartlett Cove and the Park Ranger station.  Once in Bartlett Cove we found a nice new floating dock and took the opportunity to top off the fuel tanks. 

Then it was off to attend the Glacier Bay orientation with the Park Rangers, (I couldn’t help thinking of Yogi Bear when I saw their uniforms).  The orientation turned out to be a big list of things you weren’t allowed to do, places you weren’t allowed to go and things that were dangerous to eat.  A bit disappointing really but there was free WiFi and the rangers were obviously very enthusiastic and friendly.  

After the orientation we let go from the dock and caught the last of the flood tide up to an anchorage in North Fingers Bay.   Arriving in Fingers Bay at high water and were unable to find a decent anchor position.  So temporarily we anchored on a shallow rocky ledge with deep water behind it. The wind is blowing and gusting into the bay so it’s a bit tenuous.  Low water is at midnight and I plan to have a look at the anchorage later tonight when more of the shoreline is exposed and find a better spot to anchor for the night.  In the meantime we will have dinner and relax after a long and eventful day.

I have found the navionics chart to be unreliable in this part of Alaska, obviously the data on which it is based is not too accurate.  So caution is needed as some depths vary wildly and rocks aren’t always where they appear on the chart.

Today has been warm like yesterday. It’s hard to understand why it should be so warm in Glacier Bay – but it is.  At least at the moment it is.  Tomorrow we will work our way up towards glaciers and have a closer look at the wildlife, there is no hurry we have a permit for a few days.  Total voyage distance 1,494.7 miles.

OH WHAT A NIGHT, DRAGGING ANCHOR

July 10 2016

Last night we anchored in Fingers Cove, a spot recommended by a friend we had met along the way who had been to Glacier Bay seven times previously.  When we entered Fingers Cove it was high water, we made a few attempts to find a suitable anchor spot and couldn’t. There were shoals and deep patches and a few rocks about.  So we anchored temporarily to have dinner.  Low water was around midnight, I decided to wait till around ten when there would still be some daylight remaining and find a better anchorage position when we could see more of the shallows and shore.

At ten thirty we re-anchored in what appeared to be a better position having 10 meters of water. By eleven thirty we were dragging into deep water in ever increasing wind gusts. By half past midnight we were anchored again in 14m and this time I paid out all the chain we had in the locker. Thankfully, the anchor held. The wind was not really strong and had long periods of calms between the gusts. But when the gusts came down the mountain they were short sharp and the air felt heavy.

A few hours later at sunrise was flat calm and we had a long lie in bed to recover. A late breakfast was followed by a leisurely morning and we didn’t depart the anchorage until after lunch.  Then it was an easy motor up from Fingers Bay to Blue Mouse Cove where we anchored on the east side in 10m water. 

The scenery is interesting but low cloud prevented us from seeing the tops of the mountains and the cloud cover prevented the sun from breaking through.  We sighted the usual sea otters, harbour porpoise and a distant whale, a few ducks but not much other wild life, a bit underwhelming.  Certainly didn’t live up to the hype we have been hearing so far.

Until you experience Glacier Bay it’s difficult to comprehend how big the place is. Today we only saw four other boats and one cruise ship all day.  Last night and this evening we are the only boat in the anchorage.  Another surprise is how warm the weather is at the moment, apart from some cold air this afternoon the temperatures are very mild.  Tomorrow we will plan to visit Reid Inlet and Glacier. Total voyage distance 1,511.1 miles.

GREAT CALVING GLACIERS

July 11 2016

A peaceful night’s sleep at Blue Mouse Cove anchorage has recharged the internal batteries ready for a full day motoring up to Tarr Inlet and the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glacier.  A slight change of plan as the weather this morning was spectacular with crystal clear visibility.  Time to visit a glacier or two. 

We arrived at the Margerie Glacier at midday in brilliant sunshine and clear sky after dodging around floating ice on the way up.

The Grand Pacific Glacier does not reach the sea anymore and terminates in a huge pile of rocks and rubble The Glacier can be seen beyond the rubble from a distance and is discoloured and brownish in colour.

The Margerie Glacier terminates at the end of Tarr Inlet into the sea.  What an impressive sight.  We motored up quite close to the edge of the ice belt and switched off the engine to drift and have a floating lunch in the cockpit. The Glacier is constantly crumbling into the sea and calving big lumps of ice.

The Glacier makes plenty of noise, groans, cracks and thumps as ice fractures and breaks free.  We were fortunate to see three large ice falls.  One particularly large fall sent an impressive tidal wave towards us and caused some muttering from the galley.  We had the whole place to ourselves until the cruise ship Star Princess arrived, but they kept some distance off the Glacier.

The trip up to the Glaciers from Blue Moose Cove was made in flat calm. The scenery was magnificent with clear skies and endless visibility. We passed Russel Island on the inside where we were told we could sight bears, moose and wolves. We saw nothing despite having the glasses trained on the shore and eyes out like organ stops.

This evening we have taken anchorage in Reid Inlet just below the Reid Glacier in 12m water.  It’s quite a special place and the Glacier looks immense towering above us at the end of the inlet.  This is definitely a fair weather only anchorage so fingers crossed for a quiet night.  Total voyage distance 1,511.1 miles.

ANCHORED UNDER REID GLACIER.

July 12 2016 

Last night was special. We anchored in Reid Inlet under Reid Glacier, a extraordinary place with the Glacier looming above us. Thankfully the night was calm.

Today we motored in calm conditions down to South Sandy Cove.  First we anchored in the east arm of the cove but were swamped by large horse flies or some sort of flies.  Anyway, it was intolerable, so we moved over the west side and found a great anchorage in 8m water that is relatively fly free.

After anchoring we launched the pig and went ashore for a walk.  We walked around an island on the outside of the anchorage and were treated to the sight (and sounds) of a Humpback Whale feeding close by on the shoreline.  We are so lucky, calm conditions, sunshine and a humpback feeding close offshore.

Apart from the whales, sea otters and porpoise the wildlife in Glacier Bay has been disappointing.  The fact is that on any day in New Zealand you see more bird life and sea life (whales and sea otters excluded) offshore New Zealand than you see here.  The glaciers and scenery in Glacier Bay is superb but the wildlife aspect seems to be over hyped.  I have seen more birdlife outside Glacier Bay than inside – so far. We have still not seen any bears, moose or wolves, despite people saying if we don’t see them we are blind.

Mr. Suzuki, the outboard motor is now running well after its rinse out with fresh water in Pelican – long may it last. The other good news is that Ngozi says we should get an inflatable dinghy and replace the pig as it will be easier to launch and retrieve.  If the wife says its OK – go for it before she changes her mind!

Today we also met up with yacht Caro Babbo again, a complete surprise for both of us as they expected we had long gone from Glacier Bay, I thought the same of them.  I heard someone (Caro Babbo?) calling Truce on the VHF but it was so faint I thought it was my imagination as it seemed so improbable.  We checked the AIS and didn’t see Caro Babbo.   Half an hour later, on the starboard side I saw a yacht that clearly was Caro Babbo, we altered course and were soon laying alongside swapping stories.  It seems they were held up waiting for spare parts and have followed a similar route to Truce.  I first met Caro Babbo on my first night of the voyage out of Canoe Cove in April and we have crossed paths ever since.  It was great to see John, Jennifer and Hillary again and no doubt we will catch up again on the trip south and swap some more stories.

So all is well on Truce tonight, the anchorage is flat calm, we can hear the humpbacks breathing just offshore, we are well fed and watered and listening to 60’s music on Juneau AM radio.  Life is good.  Total voyage distance 1,579.9 miles.

BARTLETT COVE LUXURY

July 13 2016

Today we motored down from South Sandy Cove to Bartlett Cove.  Flat calm all the way except for the last hour when it got a bit choppy.  We have been so lucky with the weather.  On the way we stopped at South Marble Island to watch, see, hear and smell the sea lion colony there.  Some very large noisy sea lions about and the smell is not pleasant.  Further on we encountered many whales feeding inshore, I saw one breach in the far distance.

Mid afternoon we anchored in Bartlett Cove in 8m water and immediately went ashore for an explore, use the WiFi and have a shower.  The shower was expensive but unlimited hot water, we made the most of it.  We came out squeaky clean. There is a complete skeleton of a large humpback whale on the shore, very impressive and gives a scale to the animals we have been encountering.  We also ran into the Tlingit carvers we had met in Hoonah, they are setting up the tribal house in Glacier Bay.

Later in the evening we had dinner at the Glacier Bay lodge, Halibut for her and rib eye for me.  The food was nothing to write home about but a pleasant change to dine out and not on the boat.  Nice dining on the deck overlooking the bay with the boats moored and anchored out.  So happily fed, watered and cleaned we retired to Truce for a nightcap.

A great day.  Tomorrow we will have a look at crossing Icy Strait to Hoonah if the weather is favourable. Total voyage distance 1,602.6 miles.

SHORE LEAVE IN BARTLETT COVE

July 14 2016

Today started foggy and calm.  The idea of crossing Icy Strait didn’t inspire us and we felt lazy.  It seemed a good 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.

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.

At the Ranger station we used the WiFi again to check up on emails and 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.

Today 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.

BARTLETT COVE TO HOONAH

July 15 2016

We arrived back in Hoonah this afternoon after an easy crossing of Icy Strait in calm conditions.  Calm conditions meant we had to motor, 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 right today and made good time, although it did require a very early start.

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

As we approached Hoonah Harbour there was a single large whale feeding in the entrance. We slowed down to dead slow 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.  Unfortunately, She will have to go to the zoo to see a bear.

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

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

NORTHBOUND VOYAGE ENDS

July 16 2016

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.  It’s not a big place so not a difficult mission, the locals are friendly and always have time for a chat so it’s a pleasant experience.

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 starlit 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.

 2016 Vancouver Island to Glacier Bay Voyage log

DatePlaceCountryComment
1 – 20 AprilCanoe CoveBCVoyage Preparation
21 AprilGlenthorne Passage, Prevost IslandBCGood Anchorage
22 – 23 AprilNanaimo Yacht ClubBCFitting new gear
24 – 25 AprilScottie bay, Lasqueti IslandBCFitting new gear
26 AprilSquirrel Cove, Cortes islandBCGreat anchorage
27 AprilFrancis BayBCAverage anchorage
28 AprilShoal Bay / Bickley BayBCPoor anchorage Shoal Bay.  Bickley Bay good anchorage
29 AprilSidney Bay, Loughborough ChannelBCFloat
30 AprilBurial Cove, East Cracroft IslandBCGreat Anchorage
1 MayCutter CoveBCGreat Anchorage
2 MayPotts Lagoon, West Cracroft IslandBCGreat Anchorage
3 MayAlert Bay, Malcolm IslandBCAverage Anchorage
4 – 9 MayPort McNeill, Vancouver IslandBCAwaiting EPIRB
10 MayMiles InletBCGreat Anchorage
11 MayTakush HarbourBCGood Anchorage
12 MayGreen IslandBCBest Anchorage
13 MayCodville LagoonBCGood Anchorage
14 MayRescue Bay, Susan IslandBCGood Anchorage
15 MayJorgensen Harbour, Princess Royal Is.BCAverage Anchorage
16 – 17 MayKent Inlet, Princess Royal IslandBCGood Anchorage
18 – 20 MayGilespie Channel, behind Tennant Is.BCGood Anchorage
21 MayCurlew Bay, Fin IslandBCGood Anchorage
22 MayHartley Bay,BCFloat
23 MayLowe Inlet, just inside entranceBCGood Anchorage
24 MayKlewnuggit Inlet, East InletBCAverage Anchorage
25 MayGunboat Harbour for lunchBCGood Anchorage
25 MayLawson HarbourBCAverage Anchorage
26 – 28 MayPrince Rupert Yacht ClubBCFloat
29 MayFoggy BayAlaskaGood Anchorage
30 MayKetchikanAlaskaFloat
31 MayTrollers Cove, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaAverage Anchorage
1 – 3 JuneLyman Cove, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
4 – 5 JuneCoffman Cove, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaFloat
6 JuneRed bay, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
7 JuneMarble Creek, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
8 JuneDeweyville, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
9 JuneWinter Harbour, Prince of Wales Is.AlaskaGreat Anchorage
10 JuneCraig, Prince of Wales IslandAlaskaFloat
11 JuneWarren Bay, Warren IslandAlaskaPoor Anchorage
12 JuneThreemile Arm, Kuiu IslandAlaskaAverage Anchorage
13 JuneSeclusion Harbour, Kuiu IslandAlaskaAverage Anchorage
14 JuneSteadman Cove, Horseshoe IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
15 JuneHamilton Harbour, Kupreanof IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
16 JuneRedbluff Bay, Baranof IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
17 – 19 JuneWarm Springs Bay, Baranof IslandAlaskaFloat
20 JuneAppleton Cove, Baranof islandAlaskaAverage Anchorage
21 JuneCedar Cove, Katlian Bay, Baranof IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
22 – 24 JuneSitka, Baranof islandAlaskaFloat
25 JuneKalinin Bay, Kruzof IslandAlaskaGood Anchorage
26 JuneKimshan Cove, Chichagof islandAlaskaGood Anchorage
27 JunePorcupine Bay, Chichagof IslandAlaskaAverage Anchorage
28 – 29 JunePelican, Chichagof IslandAlaskaFloat
30 June – 1 JulyElfin Cove, Chichagof IslandAlaskaFloat
2 JulyDundas Bay SouthAlaskaGood Anchorage
3 JulyDundas Bay WestAlaskaGood Anchorage
4 JulyInian Cove, Inian IslandAlaskaAverage Anchorage
5 – 6 JulyPort Frederick, North Bight, Chichagof Is.AlaskaGood Anchorage
7 – 8 JulyHoonah, Chichagof IslandAlaskaFloat
9 JulyFingers Bay, Glacier BayAlaskaPoor Anchorage
10 JulyBlue Moose Cove, glacier BayAlaskaAverage Anchorage
11 JulyReid Inlet, Glacier BayAlaskaAverage Anchorage
12 JulySouth Sandy Cove, Glacier BayAlaskaGood Anchorage
13 – 14 JulyBartlett Cove, Glacier BayAlaskaAverage Anchorage
15 – 16 JulyHoonahAlaskaFloat

Anchorages visited 47

Free Floats 12

Ports and Marinas paid floats 9

Canoe Cove to Glacier Bay 1,633 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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