Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Clearing Customs in Price Rupert Canada from Alaska.

September 16, 2014

Prince Rupert, Canada

Last night we anchored in Nichols Bay on the most southerly end of Prince of Whales Island 54 44.4 N 132 09.58 W.  We pretty much anchored at the last possible moment before total darkness,  not ideal with a broken sounder and very little detail on the chart.  No screens involved... mostly squinting in the near darkness to make sure we weren't too close to shore or some crypticly denoted rocks on the chart. When the anchor hit the bottom, it was a little deeper than we'd like, but the holding was good and the weather settled, so a good nights sleep.  

Before entering Canada I wanted to clear all the fish out of the fridge and thus had a late night smoking the last of a huge Chinook Salmon we were gifted while in Port Alexander by the f/v Float On.  I never got the skippers name, but thanks man as we had some really nice meals with enough left over to fill 8 half pints with smoked salmon.

I rolled out of bed before 6 to tend to my smoking salmon, get things stowed, start the pressure canning operation and to get us underway.  In a deeper spot half way out of Nichols bay I had a prawn trap soaking overnight in 288 feet of water and hauling it pulled in only a dozen 'keeper' spot prawns as I sent as many females bearing eggs unharmed and back to the deep.

Fog was thick for our ~75nm run toward Prince Rupert and plenty of logs and kelp to dodge.  One huge log jacked my blood pressure as it loomed out of the fog with precious little reaction time.  It was 24-30" in diameter and fully 40' long, just the sort of log that busts up your propeller or rudder or both.

Nearing Price Rupert we couldn't raise the Prince Rupert Yacht Club on VHF channel 73 and instead hailed Coastguard Prince Rupert for advice on clearing customs.  We were given coordinates to the Lightering Dock at 54 18.824N 130 19.931W where we found a nice dock for temporary tie up for clearance.  Just pick up the phone on the dock and within minutes you' re cleared in.  Gotta love Canada!

Next we moved to the PRYC and tied up in an open spot, no small feat for our 24 foot beam.

Rodger from the neighbouring yacht Kama Hele Kai greeted us at the dock to take lines and help get us secured, Rodger was kind enough to offer his phone to call the yacht club staff who was off site and soon after we were in an even better slip and good to go for a walk around town.

We ended up at Breakers, the go to restaurant on the Rupert waterfront for dinner and not before long Rodger and Arlene from m/v Kama Hele Kai arrived and we enjoyed great company and conversation for dinner.  Thanks for treating Rodger!  We hope to share an anchorage with them soon or help out on a trip to Mexico to Hawaii aboard their beautiful trawler.

Tomorrow laundry, fuel and weather analysis for the trip south.

That's it for now.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Craig, Alaska

September 15, 2014

Craig, Alaska

Fishing season is over and sleepy fishing village of Craig is slipping into a deep winter slumber.  We docked LightSpeed in the southern harbor in the exact same slip as our last visit in 2011 and from there pretty much repeated our last visit with a walk around town culminating with dinner at the pizza place.

A few hints that winter is on the way...

... shops have signs on the windows indicating 'Winter hours'

... firewood piled high at every home.

... a snow shovel at the ready on front porch.

... a look at GRIB file for the North Pacific.

In retrospect our decision to be across the Gulf of Alaska by September 15th was wise as finding a 3-4 day weather window later in the year might not be possible.

Yep, we're behind the weather curve and it looks like we have 2-1/2 more days of decent weather before the cycle of LOW pressure systems start to hammer SE Alaska and British Columbia for the winter.

Today we're charging toward the boarder and will hold up just shy of Canada for the night with a planned anchorage on the south extremity of Prince of Whales Island, then tomorrow a long day pushing toward Prince Rupert to clear into Canada and wait for our next weather window.  With the LOW pressure systems stacking up in the long range forecast, it looks like some slow going toward Washington, Oregon and planned destination in San Francisco, California some 1200 nautical miles distant).  We are tentatively planning to be in San Francisco by Christmas and it looks like it will probably take that long.

That's it for now.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fast friends in Port Alexander, Alaska

September 13, 2014

 Rowan, Jenny and Dave enjoying a spectacular sunny day in Port Alexander.  We met these two in Sitka and enjoyed spending a day at their new home in PA, picking blue berries and just handing out.
 LightSpeed moored at the free transient dock in Port Alexander
The day before, Kathy enjoys a sundowner as we motor toward Port Alexander.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Goddard Hotsprings to Port Alexander

September 12, 2014

Port Alexander, Baranof Island, Alaksa

Tonight we tied to a dock in Port Alexander on the Southeast corner of Baranof Islands about 70 miles sail from Sitka. We're meeting up with some new friends Rowan and Jenny who live here in the small fishing community of Port Alexander.

Yesterday, we stopped at Goddard Hot springs for a soak and peaceful nights sleep in Kliuchevioi Bay anchor position 56 50.3 N 135 22.3 W. We're enjoying some beautiful weather and incredible scenery.
 Goddard Hotspring lower cabin
 Kathy at the upper cabin

That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sitka Silvers

September 9, 2014

Approach to Sitka

Kathy had the early morning watch and shortly after sunrise she deployed our heavy duty trolling gear baited with a large artificial tuna lure.
Mt Edgecumbe in the pre-dawn

Waking from a short 4 hours of sleep, I was keen to get fishing and unaware that Kathy already had a line out, I rolled out of bed a few minutes later. I groggily wandered out on deck thinking I would deploy the fishing line and then found it already in the water. Perfect, now I could grab some coffee and enjoy the amazing scenery. Mt Edgecumbe was standing tall in the warm morning light, a welcome sentinel to the entrance to Sitka Sound.

Our crossing of the Gulf of Alaska went perfectly, our weather window held as predicted and we couldn't ask for much more this late in the sailing season.

I had about 1 sip of coffee and Kathy yelled 'fish on'!

Reeling in the line I figured we had a small Albacore, but much to my delight it was a 10 pound Silver Salmon. Without a net I heaved the fish up out of the water and on to the trampoline. This is not how you're supposed to catch and land salmon, it should take skill, patience and a landing net. Wow. Lucky us to catch one with Tuna gear while running at nearly 6 knots.

De-slimed and gutted silver ready for filleting.  This one is about 8 pounds.

Curious if we were on to some new fishing secret I began letting the line out again and before it was 20' behind the boat I had a hook up. This one got away in short order as the heavy offshore pole is far to stiff to properly play a salmon. The salmons mouth is too delicate for this size gear, a salmon should require some finesse. I put away the tuna gear and got out my proper salmon fishing pole and simply tied on a 3" blue and silver Crocodile spoon, no weight, no down rigger, no flasher, just slipped the spoon over the side and bam. Fish on. Wow! This was good fishing. I kept at it and in minutes of getting the line back in the water bam fish on. Between fighting the fish on the light tackle and landing them without a net, each fish probably took 10 - 15 minutes.

Kathy, always the trooper, slimed and gutted. In the few short moments between catching I was trying to clean up the blood trails I was making as I carried the fish from the stern to the bow where she was gutting. Once we had our limit of 5 I was my turn to wield the knife and fillet all the fish.

The biggest was 12 pounds dressed (bled and gutted) and the others were 8-10 pounds. We easily had 50 pounds of fresh fish to process. The first 2 fish I filleted and quickly got in the fridge and we'll plan to eat them fresh, the others I filleted and skinned. Then loaded 8 pints into our pressure canner. Each pint jar holds about 14-15 oz of fish and requires 100 minutes at pressure, so it looks like we'll be busy canning fish for half the day.

Loading the 'Little Cheif' Smoker for our first batch of smoked salmon with nearly 9 pounds of Silver salmon.

Blue skies and calm conditions today with sweeping views of the mountainous coastline. Alaska is truly a magical place.

Preparing to tie up in Sitka with Alaska style fenders.

That's it for now.

Monday, September 08, 2014

35,000 aboard LightSpeed

September 8, 2014

Underway position: 57 13 N 139 03 W
Course: 096T
Speed: 6.3 knots

It's blissfully calm today in the Gulf of Alaska with less than 5 knots of wind we're motoring under clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. A small Yellow Finch has landed on LightSpeed, the poor little fellow must be off course as we're 130 miles from land. Our cat Shell is ecstatic and trilling with pleasure as she tracks the tiny bird around the sun warmed decks. We're trailing a line in hopes of an Albacore tuna and otherwise using the flat calm conditions to work on a few boat projects.

The sunshine is invigorating and Kathy is enjoying nearly 70 degree temperatures to as she does a yoga workout on deck.

 Dave is splicing ends on a new anchor bridal after snapping the last one in the intense 50-60 knot williwas of we encountered on the Aleutian island of Atka. Although, it may be fleeting, we feel like we've finally caught up with the last vestiges of summer weather.

Looking at our log book, we last called in Sitka on July 29, 2011. In the interim we've sailed 24,760 nautical miles, ranging 96 degrees of longitude and 78 degrees of latitude making a curly cue loop de loop of sorts that took us to twice to French Polynesia, three times to the Cook Islands and once to Samoa, Western Samoa, Wallis, Fiji, Kirbati and the Marshall Islands on our way back to Alaska.

LightSpeed has proven a superb vessel carrying us safely over 35,000 miles of infrequently traveled expanses of ocean since we purchased her in mid-2009.

That's it for now.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Half way across the Gulf of Alaska

September 7, 2014 @ 0900ADT or 1700UTC

Underway position: 57 23 N 143 59 W
Course: 096T
Speed: 6.4

This morning we're crossing the midway point in the 560 nauticla mile sail between Kodiak and Sitka. Other than some unwanted 2.2 meter or 7 foot southerly swell that conflicting with the westerly wind waves and swell, the trip has been near perfect with easy downwind sailing close to the rhumb line. The GFS GRIB from last night shows lighter winds for the second half of the voyage which could be perfect for our big spinnaker and some trolling for Albacore tuna.

Mentally the 560nm Gulf of Alaska crossing seems like a short hop after several weeks at sea on our voyage from the Marshall Islands to Alaska and then the subsequent 1200 we've traveled between landfall in the Aleutians to Kodiak. In context of longish Pacific voyages, 560nm ranks 13th amongst our longest non-stop ocean voyages. The below are mostly the rhumb line distances I quickly measured between ports and thus slightly understate the actual miles sailed.

#13 Kodiak to Sitka, Alaska: 560nm (2014)

#12 Maupiti, French Polynesia to Penrhyn atoll, Cook Islands: 575nm

#11 Maupihha, French Polynesia to Suvarov, Cook Islands: 580nm (2013)

#10 Aitutaki, Cook Islands to Pago Pago, American Samoa: 590nm (2012)

#9 Penrhyn Atoll, Cook Islands to Rangoroia atoll, French Polynesia: 720nm (2013)

#8 Pago Pago, American Samoa to Penrhyn atoll, Cook Islands: 850nm (2013)

#7 Rotuma Fiji to Tarawa, Kiribati 880nm (2013)

#6 Port Villa, Vanuatu to Bundaberg, Australia: 1080nm (2007)

#5 Vava'u, Tonga to Opua, New Zealand: 1230nm (2006)

#4 Opua, New Zealand to Suva, Fiji: 1420nm (2007)

#3 Isla Benidicto, Mexico to Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia: 2450nm (2012)

#2 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Eaio, Marquesas, French Polynesia: 2800nm (2006)

#1 Bikar Atoll, Marshall Islands to Adak, Aleutian Islands, Alaska: 2900nm (2014)

That's it for now.

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Saturday, September 06, 2014

Underway Gulf of Alaska

September 6, 2014

0900 ADT (1700 UTC)
Underway position: 57 39 N 148 53 W
Course 095T
Speed 6.3

Underway Gulf of Alaska

This morning we're 19 hours into our Gulf of Alaska crossing. So far, very little wind and 2.2 meter or 7 foot southerly swells. The seas state is definitely out of sync with the wind strength, without sufficient wind pressure on the sails they back as the mast swings toward the wind with each passing swell. As a result we're motor sailing to building apparent wind to help mitigate slamming of the sails and also to maintain a minimum of 6 knots to ensure we arrive in somewhere before the next big blow catches up with us.

Catching up on our stay in Kodiak

Our stay in Kodiak was productive and fun. Our arrival coincided with that of a cruise ship, so the town was awash with visitors providing a unique opportunity to view the Russian Orthodox Church that would other wise be shuttered. The church bells are believed to be the first cast on the west coast of North America sometime around 1790 providing proof of a rich history. Our first mission was a bit of shopping at a very well stocked Alaska Marine supply, then lunch and then some serious exercise with a hike to the ridge above town to enjoy the stellar blue sky weather and sweeping views.

On our return trip we stopped at the Kodiak Brewery for a beer and met a 30 something French couple who are driving around the world in a Toyota Land cruiser. Katia and Ivan had some great stories about their travels in Iran and all the countries ending with 'stan'. As fellow travelers and adventures always yearning to get off the beaten path, we could really relate. The following day Katia and Ivan joined us for a day sail with the goal of spotting some bears, but no luck on that nor catching any salmon. Next they'll travel through Canada, the lower 48, central America and to the furthest southern extent of South America. Ivan is already thinking about his next adventure and I'd be willing to bet it's sailing around the world!

We also met up with another real cruising boat, the first since we left Majuro 70 days ago! The last time we'd seen the crew of s/v MukTuk we were at a beach BBQ in the Marquesas Islands. Talk about sailing heroes, Ali and Karl and their two young boys Jan and Noah are the real deal. Europe to Antarctica round trip 9 times including 3 times on racy multi-hulls, an around the Americas trip through the Northwest passage, sailing up the Amazon and 3 trips to Alaska to name a few exploits. Wow! They're spending winter in Alaska specifically so they can literally ski off the boat and I'm very envious. Unfortunately they don't have a web page or blog. Kathy finds it truly amazing that Ali had to provision the boat for 9 months for 4 people during their northwest passage trip! You sure wouldn't want to mess that one up or you could go very hungry.

Lots of Black Albatross flying around the boat this morning and I'm taking that as good luck omen, knock on wood.

Speaking of luck, knocking on wood, we broke our normal rule of never making landfall at night and here's the story that led up to pulling into Kodiak at 4AM.

We'd spent the night in a nearly landlocked cove behind Bluff point in Shearwater Bay (anchor position near: 57 19.34N 152 54.15 W) and the previous night I'd set my crab trap near the head of the bay and was anxious to see what we'd caught. I either like to sleep in or get going early and this was a get going early morning. Kathy usually gets up first and starts the coffee and frankly she gets a little grumbley when I interrupt here early morning quiet time. She was still in her pajamas and definitely grumbling when I asked here to venture on the cold dew covered deck to snag the crab trap float with the boat hook. The pot was full of Starfish... again, apparently the sea otters are eating alot of crab. Our mission for the day was to spot some bears so we headed into Kiliuda Bay scanning the shorelines all the 12 miles to the head of the NW arm of Kiliuda. With blue skies and calm winds it was absolutely a superb day with incredible views of towering jagged peaks, but not a single bear was to be seen. After dodging what seemed like 100 crab trap floats we edged up to the river delta in the NW branch of Kiliuda bay, the water shoals quickly from 75 feet to 3 feet almost instantly and just at the edge I'd walked up to the bow to join Kathy for a quick second when we saw an absolutely HUGE shark skirting the edge of the shoal. The girth of the Shark was massive and I believe it was in excess of 10 feet long and possibly a salmon shark?

We dropped the anchor in the deep and had some difficulty getting it set as firmly as we'd like, with calm conditions and only a short stay planned we compromised a bit after our second attempt and then launched the dinghy for a quick foray up the river to look for bears. The tide was pretty low, so we didn't make it too far before pulling the dinghy onto a sandbar for a quick walk up the river. I was hoping for a river chock full of Silver Salmon, but only a few dead ones along the shores and a few stragglers in the river. No one was biting, so despite not seeing any Grizzly tracks we decided not to risk an encounter and made our way back to the boat. Hauling the anchor turned into a project as it was fouled on old crab trap full of mud, the anchor winch was straining to the extreme in the deep water trying to dead lift the anchor 200' of chain and the 100 pound steel trap full of hundreds of pounds of thick mud. Hoisting it wasn't going to work, so we motored toward the shoal slowly dragging the mess up the underwater slope, then would stop and retrieve a bit of slack in the chain. It took some time, but finally we had the pot and anchor in about 6' of water and vast majority of the chain back on board. We hauled with the winch until we could pass a trip line through the roll bar on our Rocna anchor and finally slip the offending crab pot into the deep. At this point it was already past noon, but we hatched an ambitious plan to run until nearly dark in hopes of splitting the otherwise awkward distance remaining to Kodiak town.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I did a hasty route plan and it was calling for 7 hours to our desired anchorage for the evening. I then took a nap and when I woke up an hour later our computer was showing that we still had 9 hours to go. We could have turned around at this point and headed back to Shearwater, but instead we selected a much less desirable anchorage in Pasagshak Bay which was open to some southerly swell. Dropping the anchor near sunset we had a quick dinner and started watching an episode of Deadliest Catch. About this time the wind picked up and started gusting out of the west which turned LightSpeed's beam directly into the southerly swell. After a really long day on the water it was now looking like a rough nights sleep was in our future.

Hoisting anchor and going overnight to Kodiak seemed better than a rough nights sleep, so we got underway with Dave taking the first shift until 1AM then Kathy took over. Usually the off watch person dives for the comfort of the port side queen bed which is piled high with fluffy blankets, but I was so exhausted I just crashed on the settee in the pilot house. Around 2AM I was rudely awakened and almost rolled off the settee onto the floor as LightSpeed made what we believe to be a glancing blow off a Humpback whale. Jolted awake by the impact, I snapped away with a bolt of adrenaline as LightSpeed was lifted and jostled by the whale. Kathy headed out on deck and listened for whales and within only seconds she reported the blow of several whales further confirming our suspicion of a whale strike. All in all it was mostly gentle with no cracking or snapping or crunching that would indicate we damaged our rudders or saildrives. There was no way I was going back to sleep for the two remaining hours into Kodiak, so breaking every personal rule about entering foreign ports in the dark we slowly made our way into Saint Paul Harbor. I justified the exception to my rule on the basis that the nav aids would be exceptional in the vicinity of the biggest US Coast Guard base in the USA. However, the lack of sleep made the entry more challenging than I'd like and many of the navigation buoys flashing lights blended into the glow of the lights ashore and the nearby airport.

As we approached the breakwater the Harbor master hailed us on the VHF radio by name as he saw us on his AIS. We were quickly assigned a berth and happily racked out for a few hours, however the rush of the nights events made it hard to relax into a deep sleep. With bright sunshine we couldn't sleep in and thus began what ended up being a highly productive day despite running on fumes. First stop was the Fuel dock, then the water dock to fill the tank and wash off the boat, then a new slip in the downtown marina and then shopping and our hike up the ridge.

Update: Wind has built a bit out of the WNW and we now are sailing on a double reef main and full jib.

That's it for now.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Sailing across the Gulf of Alaska

September 5, 2014

Long Island, Alaska (Near Kodiak)

Anchor Position:  57 46.2 N  152 16.4 W

Cruising season in Alaska is quickly coming to a close.  A major storm brewing to the west is a sure sign that summer is nearly over and we're taking the impending storm as a sign that we need to get moving or face the wrath of winter in Alaska.  Despite the big storm on the way, our Gulf of Alaska weather window looks pretty good, if anything not enough wind and we anticipate flying the spinnaker for day or more of the 3-4 days it should take to make 585nm in light winds.

This was the GFS mode for about 24 hours after we left Kodiak on our way to Sitka.  On the right side of the image you can see the 976 low that we felt was heralding in fall.

This morning I changed oil, filters and fuel filters on both engines, discovered a leaking water pump, changed that out and then fabricated a new throttle cable bracket for the rusty one that was about to fail.

Long Island anchorage is really nice with excellent protection and a solid holding mud bottom.  The island is bear free making it perfect for a beach BBQ and a few lakes on the island are full of Trout and Dolly Varden adding more fishing fun.

Lots of stories to catch up on while we have some free time during our passage.  Stay tuned.

View from the ridge above Saint Paul Harbor, Kodiak

That's it for now.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A few photos, but so many more to add into the previous posts. Just need fast internet.

 Nice sunset for our crossing from the Alaskan peninsula to Kodiak Island.
Agripina Bay 

Agripina Bay eastern end looking inland near where stream meets the bay.

Small bay near west extent of Agripina Bay

Port Wrangell approach to inner most harbor.

 Goat cheese omelet fresh baked pastry with whipped cream cheese frosting.
Chingnik small boat harbor

Passing the Deadliest Catch hard core fishing vessel Northwestern 

Wind speed graph showing some pretty stormy weather while at Atka Island Aleutians.  All data is based on a 10 second average with a  peak of 75 knots as recorded at the mast head of LightSpeed!  Lots of gusts over 50 knots.  All we can say is our Rocna Anchor rocks.!!!  And no they are not a sponsor.

Cape Castle

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Kodiak Town

September 2, 2014

Kodiak, Kodiak, Alaska

We've had an Alaska sized last few days. Update with photos soon.

Currently in Kodiak.

That's it for now.

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Clear and cold in Shearwater Bay, Kodiak

September 1, 2014

Clear and cold in Shearwater Bay, Kodiak

Anchor Position: 57 20.7 N 152 53.4 W

Another blissfuly calm night at anchor, our sample size is pretty small, but we like the weather a lot better here on Kodiak vs the Alaskan Peninsula. The NOAA forecast for the last two days was Northwest 25 and the vast majority of the time it was less than 10 knots with a max of maybe 15. Clear skies overnight and our cabin temperature this morning is 44F with outside a tad colder at 40F. My fingers are getting pretty numb typing this message, but that won't last for long as the Espar D4 Airtronic heater is going full tilt. No bear sightings, so we'll move along today looking for more Kodiak brown bears on our way to Kodiak town about 60nm distant.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kodiak harbor hopping

August 31, 2014

Kodiak harbor hopping

We enjoyed two blissfully calm days anchored inside the sand spit in Three Saints Bay viewing grizzlies, deer, otter, seals and eagles. Today we're enjoying yet another beautiful Alaskan day with sweeping views of majestic craggy peaks, plenty of humpback whales, deer grazing along the shore and eagles swooping down snatching fish out of the water. No bear sightings today despite a few hours anchored in Barling Bay where the silver salmon are jumping.

The summer clock is tick tocking away, so we made a brief stop in Old Harbor to buy some fuel, but oops, it's Sunday and everything is closed. A friendly local went to bat and when he couldn't raise the fuel guy on the phone he even tried calling the mayor to liberate some fuel for us, but the mayor was out fishing. The friendly guy then took our jugs to his home and siphoned 10 gallons out of his fuel heating tank and delivered the diesel to the dock! Alaskan's are a pretty friendly bunch and now we have a bit of a fuel safety margin should we need to motor all the way to Kodiak.

Tonight we're headed towards Shearwater Bay and hoping to anchor in a lagoon near the entrance to the bay near 57 19.5 N 152 54.08 W

That's it for now.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014


August 30, 2014

Anchor Position: 57 06.44 N 153 29.81 W


After being blown off the Alaksan Peninsula by strong NW winds, we went with it and had a nice overnight sail to Kodiak Island. We're anchored in an unnamed lagoon formed by a sand spit near the entrance to Three Saints Bay. It's wonderfully calm here and a welcome change to some tenuous anchoring we had in the Aleutian's and along the Alaskan Peninsula. We went for a short walk on the sand spit and then rounding a curve spotted 4 Grizzly Bears headed our way on the spit, so we nonchalantly high tailed it back to the dinghy. Dave found some abandoned and rusted out old Dungeness crab pots at low tide and salvaged a few stainless steel components and is now in the process of building one all stainless crab pot from the junk. It's going to look pretty ugly, but hopefully the crabs won't mind. What a wonderful nights sleep in total calm, I think we were in bed nearly 12 hours recharging from several nights of iffy sleep followed by an overnight sleepless marathon.

That's it for now.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Agripina Bay blue sky blowout

August 29, 2014

Agripina Bay blue sky blowout

Blue sky and gusts to 40 knots greeted our arrival to Agripina Bay. The scenery more than made up for the blustery northwest wind blasting through the mountain gaps and cascading down the valleys once filled with glacial ice. We anchored per the Coast Pilot recommended location in the Northwesterly corner of Agripina Bay near 57 06.78N 156 28.50W. The wind here ranged from peaceful calm to a savage 35 knots with unexpected frequency. In a calm patch we launched the dinghy and ventured forth to explore the many miles of Agripina's undulating coastline. The bay is incredible with many smaller bays beckoning a quick landing for some beach combing, we landed and walked quite a few.

Hey Bear! Hey Bear! (Loudly as you care).

Since we're finally on the Alaska Peninsula we're now in bear country and we'd prefer to see all of our bears from the safety of the boat. Landing on a beach we'd make our presence known by calling out 'Hey Bear' a few times and then generally making plenty of noise with sticks smacked together, badly sung, but loud renditions of favorite song lyrics, all with the goal of avoiding a startled bear and a bite. Within a minute of landing on our first shore we found a fresh bear trail leading up to a low saddle that overlooked LightSpeed in the anchorage below. We followed the trail and snapped a nice shot of the Agripina Bay anchorage, then retreated to the beach, picked a few berries and zipped off to the next bay for more of the same. In the NE corner of Agripina a long white sand beach beckons and we couldn't resist checking it out. Landing the dinghy at low tide we immediately stepped over some fresh Grizzly prints in the wet sand at waters edge. Yep, definitely bears here, more bad singing and scrounging for sticks to bang together while we kept a sharp lookout up and down the beach. Lots of bear tracks, some big and some medium size and definitely quite a few in the vicinity of the salmon stream near the middle of the beach. We spotted a few Chum and Pink Salmon in the milky glacial waters of the small stream and then decided we'd seen enough and hot footed it back to our ride.

Back on LightSpeed the wind gusts were getting a bit annoying, so we upped anchor and moved down to bear beach, so at least we'd have some interesting wildlife viewing while we kept anchor watch in the sometimes 40+ knot gusts. Before long Kathy spotted Mr. Bear ambling along the beach we'd walked earlier in the day. Having seen our first bear, since our last Alaska trip in 2011 we decided we'd had enough of the gusty winds. It was late in the day, but enough was enough. Running coastwise overnight is not our favorite first choice, but trying to get a good nights sleep with these gusty winds would be futile.

Plan A, sail overnight the 90 nm to Geograhic Harbor. The forecast for our zone was calling for NW 25, but closer to our destination variable 15, it shouldn't be too bad right? At this point the wind was throwing a tizzy fit gusting to at least 42 knots with lulls dropping only briefly to 25. Apparently, gusty conditions such as these are the norm with NW winds sneaking through the mountain gaps and blasting out the bays. Before we could hoist sail I needed to pick up our crab trap, luckily we've watched no less than 36 episodes of Deadliest Catch this past month, so I was ready for a little spray in my face as we maneuvered up to the 'bag' which Kathy deftly snagged and dragged aboard with the boat hook. The wind was taking no prisoners and unleashing a steady 40 while I held LightSpeed in position while Kathy winched the pot aboard. No joke it was pretty intense.

Heading out of the bay with a tail wind LightSpeed was doing 7-8 knots under bare poles, yep it was windy. Short steep waves stacked up quickly and after about 5 minutes of wave smacking on our beam we decided this was not so fun.

Plan B, go with the wind. The south end of Kodiak island lay a comfortable overnight sail away, just 80'ish miles to Sitkinak Straight where Kathy confirmed we will catch the strong current with what seemed preordained timing. Once the wind abated a bit I unfurled the jib and then a few minutes later it went calm and I furled the jib and started the engine. Then a few minutes later the wind filled in to a nice steady 20, so out went the jib and the engine was shut down. All was looking good until the boat gave a shudder and a white wind devil blasted pass. I dove out the door and tried in vain for about 3 seconds to furl the jib as I watched our apparent wind jump to 42 knots, at which point course became a hell of a lot more important, we need to run with this wind and now or risk capsize. I watched our speed rocket to 10 knots then 12 in a blink as the apparent wind peaked at 48 knots from dead astern. That makes for a conservative 58 knot and very scary gust. The wind eased a bit and I wrestled in the jib, leaving only a handkerchief flying, at this point we were fully 4 miles out of the bay and getting blasted with a Williwaw?

As I write, the faint glow of a new day softly hints the eastern horizon. I'm looking forward to new adventurers along the less traveled SE side of Kodiak Island and hoping we find less gusty conditions.

That's it for now.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Port Wrangell

August 28 2014

Port Wrangell, Alaska

Anchorage Position: 57 03.41 N 156 37.05 W

Port Wrangle is pretty nice, towering cliffs laced with waterfalls backed by snow speckled peaks. The anchorage is about 50' deep with good holding in thick dark mud and subject to some williwaw action in NW winds.

No bears were sighted nor were any salmon seen jumping and our crab trap pulled blank. So, were moving along toward Agripina Bay and tomorrow weather permitting toward Geographic Harbor which is said to be frequented by plenty of Grizzlies. As we motor out of Port Wrangell in the pass between David Island and the Alaskan Peninsula we had winds accelerate to 40 knots shooting down the river valley adjacent to Port Wrangell, happy I didn't have a full set of sail flying for those gusts on the beam.

That's it for now.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chignik to Port Wrangell

August 27, 2014
3:45PM local or 23:30UTC

Chignik to Port Wrangell

Underway position: 56 46 N 156 59 W

Yesterday we had some great sailing and mostly blue skies en route to Chignik. Kathy and I enjoyed sitting on deck and soaking up some sunshine and I even had my shirt off for nearly an hour as we rounded Cape Castle. I guess we've finally adapted to a hot sunny Alaskan summer day of 61F. We tied up in the new looking docks in Chignik small boat harbor and were a bit surprised to find most of the marina empty, apparently the commercial salmon fishing was not so good. We walked about a half mile to the Trident processing plant and checked out the company grocery store, they were due to close in three days and we scored some cheese, bagels and tomatoes for 50% off. Kathy was really hoping for some vanilla ice crea, the perfect compliment to wild raspberries we picked in Sand Point, unfortunately they were sold out.

On our way back from the store we contemplated heading out for an overnight 165nm trip to Geographic Harbor. A fast moving low pressure system was due to pass over our location and our GRIB was showing we might have Northeasterly head winds in the 25 knot range, so we decided to stay the night in Chignik.

It's rainy and grey today, but no complaints with near perfect wind conditions to make quick work of the 72 nautical mile jog to Port Wrangell. We spoke with a passing fishing boat named 'Isle Dominator' and the friendly skipper confirmed that Port Wrangell is the best harbor along this coast and one he uses throughout the winter commercial fishing season. Now that we're on the 'Main Land' we should start seeing lots of Brown (Grizzly) Bears on the beaches in the evenings.

That's it for now.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Great day of sailing

August 26, 2014

Mitrofania Island, Alaska

Anchor position: 55 49.3' N 158 52.3'W

Grey and blustery conditions made for a slow start yesterday, we finally pulled away from the Sand Point dock at 11AM and hoisted sail. The forecast was for West 25 and 9 foot seas, perfect for a broad reach along the Alaskan Peninsula. Once away from the cover of Popof and Korovin islands LightSpeed was hustling along in the 9 knot range and enjoying frequent surfs into the mid-teens. As we neared the Kupreanof Peninsula the wind and seas picked up a bit making for some truly spirited sailing.

Our AIS (Automatic Identification System) alarm sounded indicating we'd be close to a collision with the 'Northwestern' in about 4 miles, I tweeted our course 10 degrees to open the gap to ~1/2 mile. As we closed with the Northwestern we could visually confirm that it was the 'Deadliest Catch' vessel owned by Sig and Edgar Hansen. This gave us a laugh as every night for the last few weeks we've watched old episodes of the Deadliest Catch and we're currently half way through season 3.

I was hoping to make Salmon Ranch Bay in Mitrofania bay yesterday as it looks to have lots to explore and good fishing, but we pulled into Mitrofania Island instead. Boy was that a mistake, with the West 25 wind and probably stronger winds overnight we had a restless night of sleep with williwaws blasting us, they weren't too strong, but the unnerving thing was we spent much of the night veering around and often pointing East or North.

This morning it's sunny and calm despite a forecast for West 20? We have the main up and are motorsailng toward who knows were, but maybe Chignik where the Silver Salmon should be jumping.

That's it for now.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Sand Point, Alaska

August 25, 2014

Sand Point, AK

We've enjoyed our stay in Sand Point having made many new friends, toured the island by Ford Bronco, washed a few loads of laundry, bought some groceries and caught up on a bit of internet.

The weather is pretty good the next few days, so we're going to make some miles toward Kodiak Island. Innumerable interesting anchorages pepper the Alaskan Peninsula, so it's going to be hard to make much progress as I already want to stop at more than a dozen.  

The goal is to be across the Gulf of Alaska by September 15 and from there we can use the inside passage to harbour hop to Washington State, then we'll need some decent weather windows to make the bigger jumps down Washington, Oregon and California.  

 Alaskan Timber wolf pelt
 Rainbow between shower.
LightSpeed at the nice new Sand Point docks.