A Week Gone By

We arrived too late to catch the last tide into Cape Spencer, the entrance to the mire protected water. We were treated to a clear dark sky lit up with glowing green ribbons of bright northern lights across the Fairweather mountain range. It was truly mystic and fascinating.
We spent two nights in quaint Elfin Cove, an old WWII lookout base now a stop over for the Alaskan fishing fleet and cruising boats. The weather continued to provide warm sunny days for exploring Granite Island and the near extinct Steller sea lion.
We moved across to Glacier Bay for five days. The highlight was the stunning, scary and formidable glaciers. We motored to Johns Hopkins Inlet, nearly half way to the glacier face until the icebergs choked the passage. We sat and watched in awe as the glacier cracked with loud booms and groans hoping to watch it calve. (Enormous chunks of ice fall from the face of the glacier). Instead we witnessed a rock slide from a bare vertical cliff just 300 yards ahead of our bow. It slid nearly 200 feet into the water sending up a huge dust cloud that lingered for 10 minutes or more. That was deafening and startling!
We anchored in icy cold Reid Inlet. The water was a milky turquoise green from the glacier runoff at the head of the bay. We hiked up to the face to listen and watch a fast running river coming out from under the massive glacier. It was a very heartfelt hike, feeling humbled standing before 100′ of ancient ice. Another incredible moment of our cruising journey.
We arrived in Hoonah, a very close knit Tlinglit, pronounced “Klinkit” Indian village at the top of Chichagof Island. The natives are kind and eager to share their family ancestry, artwork and wood carving. Some of it was commercialized for the cruise ships that sustain the economy but we met several natives who were genuinely interested in explaining their history and meaningful art. We had a very relaxing two days in the easy dock.
The Fall season is approaching rapidly now, the days are significantly shorter and we’re starting to feel pressed for time to make it home.
We’re continuing eastward, deeper into the inside passage. Send us light winds, sun and calm waters in your thoughts.

Happy John

Here he is all happy to be cleaning our home, just before he ruined part of our bedding. No picture of messed up John after I scolded him for hanging the blankets out over the lifelines.
We are almost giddy to be close to arriving at the entrance of Cross Sound. Our high pressure cushion held up and appears we may not be caught out with big waves and winds on our nose from the 35 knot low system now slamming Kodiak. Diesel bill for this easy passage?, priceless!

Off in the distance, about 70 crow miles away, we are treated to a spectacular view of the snow capped mountain range enclosing Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. I believe it’s rare to have clear enough weather to view the full range and actually see the stark white glaciers between the tall peaks. Magnificent! Sorry the pictures can’t do it just from here. But in addition to the view from the ocean, I was able to call from our Sat phone and get a short term notice permit to enter and spend 7 days touring the park. How wonderful is that? We’re hoping for clear weather within the park. The winds are forecasted to be very light, Woohoo! but the downside is the “F” word – Fog, Faugust is what the Alaskans call this month. Our last night out before landfall, send us bright sunny wishes!

To my parents: Happy 65th Anniversary, I wouldn’t be here without you, all my love!

Half Way

We are half way across “The Gulf” making very good seaway. There is a 35+ knot blow coming from the south so we are motor sailing trying to maintain decent speed. Dejavu Japan crossing. We changed our destination to Cross Sound- the entrance to the Inside Passage. An additional 100 miles making a total distance of 500 miles – four nights, as a spiraling low appears to stall and the high pressure along the northwest coast of Alaska is forecasted to hold allowing us to squeak in. By pushing ahead we will make up more than three days of sitting in a marina waiting for another departure window to continue south. We have an alternative safe harbor should the forecast drastically change.
The weather is either good motoring or just bad winds and seas in Alaska, so the fishermen say.
The seas have been rolly at times with big currents from the farthest north Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, and other large inlets of water either help or oppose our speed by as much as 1.5 knots. The ocean depth in some places exceed 15,000 feet and the water temperature has warmed to 56 degrees at the surface being exposed to southern water.
Beyond enjoying warm sunny days, we watched a small ray of “northern lights” dance and big blobs of blue-purple bioluminescence trail behind the boat as the engine exhaust system spat water. The moonless night air was so clear the stars reflected off the glassy sea. These kinds of moments help the bitter-sweet emotions John and I are presently experiencing – Sailing into the unknown.

Kodiak, Our childhood dreams

We’re so humbled and grateful that our childhood dreams were fulfilled. Kodiak is more than we anticipated. Wonderful fishing community, generous people offered us rides to the store, laundry, hiking, driving all around the island and lots of fresh fish. We’ve enjoyed the long daylight hours, warm summer days, fantastic juicy wild berries, mushrooms and bear watching.
Time is closing in, we are wanting to get across the Gulf now, a 3 day passage to Yakutat if the weather holds. We’re watching the gribs, talking to the locals about currents and waves. Soon we’ll set sail. Send us good thoughts for a safe passage as we leave “The Last Frontier”

Vacation Days!

Our overnight crossing was very good, one of the better ones since leaving Japan. 18 kts of wind just aft of the beam. We made up to 7 kts in 1 meter waves but as the waves began to build and adverse current created chop we slowed down to a comfortable average of 5.5kts. Dione was 3 miles ahead of us the entire distance so we were proud of our performance as they’re a good 10 feet longer on the waterline. We had perfect timing for the morning tide and daylight. We dropped anchor in pouring down rain, an unprotected anchorage in loose gravel. With the strong wind forecast approaching we gave up on the petroglyphs and headed back out for another 8 hour motor ride through dense fog to Japanese Bay.
We were richly rewarded with very protected mud holding and calm bay. The bay meets the Japanese standard of solitude, rugged but with romantic details of flowers, fine sand beaches, waist high tundra grass with quiet birds floating in shallow water.
We watched a mother bear and twin cubs play along the shoreline. They were fiercely growling and bawling as they moved off to their den for the evening.
The sunshine was our first in weeks. We walked along the shoreline with Glenn and Sue, sat and enjoyed the peacefulness of the mountains.
The weather forecast calls for summertime weather so we are on the move to 3 Saints Bay to enjoy more of Kodiak in calm anchorages and t-shirt weather.
These rare days make the rough passages, cold rain and dense fog worth the effort to be here. Wish you could sit in the warm cockpit and hear the bears with us!

Kodiak Bound

We’ve been day hopping up the peninsula, from Volcano bay to Sand Point back across to Chignik Harbor., nearly 350 miles eastbound. Stunning volcanic scenery, gorgeous floral and fauna, rugged terrain in the anchorages, more whales, 4-5 bears walking and catching salmon, jumping salmon and Stellar sea lions with SV Tara alongside. We had a great reunion with our Australian boat friends on SV Dione, last seen in March where we said our farewells in Osaka knowing we’d meet up somewhere in Alaska. We spent 4 days catching up, hiking the willow alder covered hillside picking salmon berries and late night dinners with fresh salmon and halibut from the local fishing boats in Chignik harbor. What an amazing place with the friendliest people, all curious about our sailing adventures.
We had a terrific sail from Chignik, doing nearly 7 kts in steady wind and relatively calm seas. Spent our last night in Aniakchak bay with Dione on the peninsula side preparing for our overnight passage to Kodiak.
We’re currently bound for the southern point of Kodiak, Lazy Bay in Alitak strait. There are petroglyphs out on the point. Bears too, but we will stay in a group and have our whistles and air horn. The locals assure us the bears aren’t interested in eating us while wearing heavy clothing. Hmmm.
Time is going by so quickly, leaving us very little time to enjoy each anchorage. There is another big blow coming but we’ll be in safe anchorages with Dione. We’re looking forward to exploring Kodiak’s waterways as we head for Saint Paul harbor on NE Kodiak. Most of the 13 boats that departed Japan will be there, all waiting for good weather to cross over to the Prince William Sound vicinity.