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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

Kodiak

August 30, 2014

Anchor Position: 57 06.44 N 153 29.81 W

Kodiak

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.