Tuesday, August 5, 2008

turning south

Hi all! Greetings from Sitka. What a beautiful town. There's sun breaks and I'm wearing a skirt and tank top! The town is surrounded by gorgeous layers of mountains. Even the islets in the harbour are mountainous.

We left Juneau on a very stormy Fri 18 July. We took our time that morning. Taking one last shower, saying goodbye to friends, topping off water tanks and Ron wrapped up the setting on the new bilge switch. We had to cross Gastineau Channel to get to the fuel dock and debated ducking back into the harbour. We were already soaked and decided to press on to what we thought was a protected anchorage. We passed a crazy windsurfer and by the time we ducked into Stephens Passage the seas had calmed down and we were riding a 2 knot current. By the time we pulled into rounded Point Young into Admiralty Cove the winds had picked up again. I was wiped out after having to set and re-set the anchor. The winds were not calming and there was not the protection we thought in this cove. Our leisurely morning in Juneau seemed days ago. We rode out the night, literally. The boat was tossing and turning on the anchor all night. Neither Ron or I slept. Between the two of us we were checking our location every 15min. But our anchor held well. The winds finally started to calm Sat morning and I crawled out of bed and made coffee and blueberry muffins. We secured the anchor in it's cradle on deck with a kiss and got our way. Blue skies began to peek out and by the time we were in Saginaw Channel we were under blue skies and were contemplating raising the sails! That's when Ron noticed the whales.....bubble-net feeding! I threw some fried chicken in the oven to warm up for lunch and grabbed the camera! Such a ballet! Sometimes you could tell where they were going to surface by the frothy whiteness their bubbles made on the surface. Then these colossal bodies would emerge. Huge jaws scooping so much water. They would twist and turn and it was hard to tell what part of the body you were looking at. They would all take another deep breath for their next dive and we'd watch as tail after tail announced their decent. We counted 13 at one point! Once the whale watching boats moved in - much too close! - we moved on. But what a show! We watched for well over an hour and it looked like they would keep it up all day. We rounded Point Retreat and met a cold south wind. We fought current and swells and the rain moved back in. The peaks lining Lynn Canal were beautiful when the clouds would part. We made our way into Funter Bay and scouted for an anchorage before we decided to just tie up at the public float for a guaranteed good nights sleep. The float was back dropped by the majestic Mt. Robert Barron and we had a good view out into the area where Lynn Canal, Chatham Strait and Icy Strait met.

We were granted a 6 day pass into Glacier Bay. Our trip of Muir Inlet would mark our northernmost point of the trip and Tarr Inlet would mark our westernmost. There was no rest from the cold and wet. There were a couple days that I had to use our water bladders full of hot water to rest on my feet to get feeling back. It was cold and miserable (i used that word a lot in my log entries that week) in the land of glaciers. No sign, that I could see, of global warming here. Glacier Bay was amazing and beautiful. Margerie Glacier at the head of Tarr Inlet won our hearts. She gave us a beautiful show of calving ice. Sounds of sharp gunshots and rolling thunder filled our ears. The wind off the glacier was desperately cold, but we couldn't bring ourselves to leave. The life force of these amazing glaciers is slowly depleting ours. It was time to move on.

As we moved across Icy Strait, thru very rough tide rips in Glacier Bay, the visibility increased to more than the 1/4 mile we'd been experiencing in Glacier Bay. As we neared the south shore of Cross Sound we approached a dramatic coastal paradise. Islands of rolling hills, lush with fur and spruce. In just a few hours we left the harsh land of the glaciers and entered the tropical (but still cold and wet). Elfin Cove and Pelican were our next stops. Beautiful (have i been using that word too much?) little boardwalk towns. Very kind people. Too much drinking in Pelican. As we cruised down Lisianski Inlet to Pelican, the clouds cleared and the sun came out. We had fun in Pelican with the crew at Rose's and the Seattle boys of Pierre car dealerships.

Our weather window looked good so we headed out Lisianski (pronounced Lizzie-an-ski) Strait to hop down the west coast of Chichagof Island down to Sitka. We enjoyed everything from the intricate passages and coves with complex entrances that challenged our navigation skills to the freedom of the open water, the Gulf of Alaska, with it's gentle ocean swells and mirror calm that reflects the most delicate clouds. We enjoyed a stop at White Sulphur Hot Springs and enjoyed a rainbow during our dinner in the cockpit in Kalinin Bay. While a few miles offshore before setting our course for Imperial Passage into Portlock Harbour, I was at the helm waiting for an opportunity to turn with the swells and head East. I was also keeping an eye on this damn sport fishing boat getting too close with this much open water. I was finally able to make my turn and take his stern at the same time. Then he cuts his engines right in front of me! I was fuming and slowed down. Ron then stirs from his nap, looks over and notices right away it's our boys from Pelican! Our boys were out fishing, noticed our rig and wanted to know if we wanted some salmon. SWEET! Fresh Alaskan Sockeye delivered right to our boat in the Gulf of Alaska! We wove our way into Portlock Harbour and along the calm passageways to Kimshan Cove and enjoyed salmon 6 different ways for dinner :)

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