Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OpenCPN Radar overlay with Simrad 3G radar

September 30, 2014

A few screen shots of our Simrad 3G radar in use.  Although they call it a 24 mile radar, it has an effective range of about 4nm and we usually run at 1-2 mile range in thick fog.  The following screen shots show 3 different ships of various sizes as identified by our AIS.
Kennicott, a 116m passenger ship.
 Westrun Titan, a 33m tug towing a huge barge with containers stacked 4 high
Vector, a 40m Canadian Coast guard ship.

All good targets in calm sea conditions at 4 miles, but not so good beyond 6 miles despite all of these being huge.

All of this is running on opensource software.  OpenCPN for the chartplotter with a Navico Radar plugin for the radar overlay.  Our system is running headless, in that we do not have a radar brain box or radar screen.... everything is happening on a simple laptop PC directly connected to the radar dome via a standard Ethernet cable

Plugins for OpenCPN can be found here:

A huge thanks to Kees for all the great work on the Navico Radar Plugin.

OpenCPN can be found here:

Broughton Group, British Columbia

September 30, 2014
Lagoon Cove
Docked at:  50 35.8 N 126 18.8 W

Rounding Cape Caution in the early morning hours to make the run across Queen Charlotte Strait between passing storms. We picked our window well and had a nice smooth trip.

The night before the crossing we stayed in Jones Cove which is very tight and required two lines to be run to shore to keep LightSpeed centered in the very very tight little Cove.  We had settled conditions for the tie, but felt the shore lines were prudent considering the forecast for gale force wind overnight. If not for the very settled conditions it would not be possible to keep a boat of LightSpeed's size centered in the cove while lines were run out to shore.
 Catching tons of prawns and crab.
  Beautiful sunshine all day yesterday... happy to be back to the Pacific Northwest.
  Pulled 65 nice spot prawns on the first set and 55 on the second soak of just over 1 hour.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Lagoon Cove

September 29, 2014

Lagoon Cove Marina

Dock Location: 50 35.8N 126 18.8 W

Yep, we must be the last cruisers out here as the super popular Lagoon Cove Marina is all ours.  165 acres of forest with nice trails and a huge dock all to ourselves.

The temporary caretakers Sunny and Simon are shutting off the gen-set, so no time to upload stories or pictures at the moment.  Plus, it's sunny so we're going to take a walk to the lookout, blow hole and take the deer trail loop.

By the end of the day a few more boats trickled in just in time to organize an evening get together.

Simon and Sunny (on the left) are retired cruisers and were wonderful hosts regaling us with endless stories and warm hospitality.

That's it for now.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Port McNeil, Vancouver Island

September 27, 2014

Port Mc Neil, Vancouver Islands BC

Anchored in Jones Cove and made the jump this morning over to Port McNeil to fuel up.  Tonight we're headed to Rough Bay.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shearwater, BC Blackberry picking between rain showers

September 24, 2014

Shearwater, BC

Autumn is officially here and we've a long way to go, however this is a good place to hide from the raging weather offshore.  It's nasty off the north end of Vancouver island with 53 knots gusting to 62! 64 knots is a Category 1 hurricane, cyclone or typhoon depending on what they call it regionally. Here in Shearwater we're somehow dodging the winds and it's pretty calm despite the prediction for gale force for the last day.   Current forecasts can be viewed here:

 s/v Mahina Tiare III at the dock here at Shearwater.  I had a nice chat with John Neal today and look forward to sharing an anchorage with John and Amanda sometime soon.

 Sunny break between rain showers and we headed out for a hike.
Then we found some nice plumb Blackberries and headed back to the boat for our berry picking buckets.  Kathy, bucket in hand balances on a board walk called the Spirit Trail as we seek out more berry bushes.    Dave make a pint of Blackberry jam, Kathy and Dave collaborated on a beautiful Blackberry pie and tonight's fresh silver salmon fillets were topped with a fresh blackberry reduction. Yumm.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Storm warning in effect. Hiding out in Shearwater.

September 23, 2014

Shearwater Marina, Bella Bella, BC

Here's the forecast for our zone:

Central Coast from McInnes Island to Pine Island

Storm warning in effect.

Wind southeast 15 to 25 knots increasing to southeast 25 to 35 this afternoon and to southeast 35 to 45 Wednesday morning.  Wind becoming southeast 40 to 50 near noon Wednesday then becoming southeast 35 to 45 Wednesday evening.  Periods of rain beginning early this morning.

We anchored at Oliver Cove also know as Port Blackney a BC Marine Provincial Park near the junction of Milbanke sound and Mathieson Channel, nice and calm.

September 22, 2014
Shearwater Marina and tied to the breakwater for the perfect cruiser price of free.
John and Amanda Neal just pulled into Shearwater this afternoon.  These two must be the most accomplished sailors on the planet with over 300,000++  nautical miles and that's a whopping 5 times more than the crew of LightSpeed who have only sailed the equivalent of three times around the world!  These guys rock!  Check them out at:

Perfect timing to find ourselves at Shearwater marina near Bella Bella.

It's always great to hear from those who enjoy our blog, thanks for reaching out and we look forward to meeting up with old friends and new as we make our way south this fall and winter.

 That's a pretty nice smile for an early morning departure.  
 Kathy on the breakwater float at Shearwater Marina.  The marina manager let us stay on the float for free otherwise it would have been $1.50 a foot per night at the dock.
Shearwater marina in early morning light.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Sept 21 2014

Stopped at Klemtu for fuel and heading for Vancouver island in the next few days. All is well.

That's it for now.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Exposed inlet a nice anchorage near Prince Rupert

September 19, 2014

Exposed Inlet, Kelwnuggit Inlet, Grenville Channel, British Columbia

Anchor Position: 53 39.5 N 129 42.26 W

We made the 50nm run from Prince Rupert to Exposed Inlet, much of the time in pouring rain and grey dense fog.  Keeping watch for logs requires ones full attention and even so we had a few close calls as they'd quickly appear out of the fog.

With flat water, flat light and thick fog you an hardly see these ducks even though they are very near the boat.  A big radar screen comes in handy in these conditions, but it doesn't help spot logs.

Exposed inlet offers great protection in SE winds, but would be entirely exposed to the long fetch of Grenville Channel in NW winds.  With SE gale and storm warnings for Hecate Strait we enjoyed a nearly windless night tucked into Exposed inlet.

The estuary at the head of the bay is fun to explore by dinghy and would be perfect for kayaks, lots of potential for wildlife viewing and good crabbing.  Nearby Brodie Lake spills into Kelwnuggit Inlet with a small waterfall at 53 40.17 N 129 42.78 W and this would certainly be a good place to spot bears.
 Brodie Lake falls from a distance.
 Kathy taking a look around the falls
 Moss on these trees is good reminder that it's often foggy and wet here in Kelwnuggit Inlet
 It looks like she's playing air guitar.
LightSpeed anchored in Exposed inlet as viewed from the estuary at the head of the bay.

We made a quick foray ashore and between salmon jumping up the falls and the strong odor of bears this would be a great spot to see some bears fishing in the early morning hours.

Prince Rupert

September 19, 2014

We've spent a few days in Prince Rupert waiting for stormy weather to blow through and plan to get underway today.  The Prince Rupert Yacht Club is great with easy access to town, free internet etc.  Spent the last few days hanging out with s/v Big Finn (Larry) here on the dock with a nice dinner aboard yesterday.

Gotta get going as we have a 75nm run planned for the day.

That's it for now.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Using a Iridium Satphone with Airmail for Sailmail or Winlink

When using a sat phone paired with a windows PC to check email and weather using Airmail you'll save lots of airtime/money/frustration if you create a simple set of windows firewall rules to block all programs except sailmail and winlink from accessing the internet connection created by the sat phone. This ensure the critical downloads have sole priority and no expensive air time minutes are wasted.

Firewall rules to implement when using a sat phone with Airmail for Sailmail and Winlink on a PC running Windows 8.1

Open 'Windows Firewall with Advance Security'

Click on 'Inbound rules' on right sidebar.
Click on the 'Action' then 'New Rule'
Tick the box for 'Port'
Click next
Tick the box for 'TCP'
Tick the box for 'Specific Local ports:'
Type or paste these port ranges in the box: 0-49, 51-6782, 6786-8771, 8773-9999
Click Next
Tick "Block the connection"
Click Next
Tick all boxes
Click next
Type name for rule: Sat phone rule to block all ports except those used by sailmail and winlink
Click finish

Click on 'Outbound rules' on right sidebar.
Click on the 'Action' then 'New Rule'
Tick the box for 'Port'
Click next
Tick the box for 'TCP'
Tick the box for 'Specific Local ports:'
Type or paste these port ranges in the box: 0-49, 51-6782, 6786-8771, 8773-9999
Click Next
Tick "Block the connection"
Click Next
Tick all boxes
Click next
Type name for rule: Sat phone rule to block all ports except those used by sailmail and winlink
Click finish

Ensure newly created rules are enabled.

Note: When using normal internet (i.e NOT using the sat phone). Disable the rules to allow normal connections to the internet.

Inbound / Outbound Rules dialog box will have the below settings:

Protocols and Ports
Protocol type: TCP
Protocol number:6
Local Port: All Ports

Remote Port: 0-49, 51-6782, 6786-8771, 8773-9999

That's it for now.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

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.

Heading out of Nichols Bay in the early morning.

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 neighboring 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.

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.

Craig, Alaska

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.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

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.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

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