Tuesday, September 16, 2008

foggy fall and summer sun

Hi Kids and Chickens!

Back in BC. It's been absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We've hit the foggy fall weather and have had some interesting mornings. We're up early (now that the sunlight hours are back to an even keel, we're getting on a more regular sleeping schedule) and watch as the fog rolls in, settles and lifts again to reveal the crisp blue sky. Quiet mornings spent listening to birds, breaths of whales just outside our cove, and enjoying the solitude of cruising this time of year. The fog settles in again and we wait. Waiting for our clear cool afternoon of cruising. As you can see from pics we're getting a bit more sailing in on the trip south. But the afternoons when the wind isn't blowing, it's downright warm! And guess what I got !?! Tan lines! Although I'm working on not having the lines ;)

You can see just how beautiful the afternoon was in Khutze and I can tell the tail of leaving the next morning.....First I have to introduce you to Gary and Karen. A couple we met in Bishop Bay Hot Springs and cruised with for a few days. They are delivering a 49' Beneteau. We had dinner with them and then Karen celebrated her birthday in Khutze and we had them over for a lovely dinner celebration. A beautiful morning with a little light fog in our inlet. The sun just peeking over the surrounding cliffs, about a half hour after sunrise. We wove our way out of Khutze, just behind Gary and Karen, only to run into a fog bank filling Graham Reach. No surprise that the Beneteau is equipped with RADAR, we are not. Gary did inform us that our echo was very strong, which is very nice to know. They invited us to keep following them and they'd keep an eye on us. As we were trying to decide, not being very comfortable with the idea of flying blind, the fog swallowed us up. We had no choice and worked hard to keep an eye on Anna. We kept in touch via radio when we didn't have visual. Almost three hours later we had a break in the fog. It's absolutely beautiful under a blue sky, green green hills changing into blue mountains as they disappear in the distance. Strong early afternoon winds kept the fog off the water and we parted ways with our guardians where the Heikish Narrows meets Finlayson Channel (us) and Sheep Passage (them). We made our way to lovely Bottleneck Inlet where I finished building and installing our lifelines (finally). We had a lovely afternoon with the warm sunshine to laze naked in the cockpit. A very pleasant anchorage with high green bluffs with just enough of a view into Finlayson Channel to check conditions in the morning. That evening we watched the moonrise as the fog set in and warmed by the fire as the stars came out. Beautiful day.

The next morning brought fog again and Ron and I waited till around 1030 to get moving thru a light fog and light breeze. Roderick Island has nice steep-to shores so we can follow it closely down to Milbank Sound. Trying to decide what to do about lunch, Ron had to bring up Dick's cheeseburgers! Now we're both salivating and I have nothing to compare on board. By noon30 we've set the hook in Mary Cove. The fog is not burning off and we're coming to some island groups and the end of Finlayson. I decided to make pizza, letting the dough rise in the warm engine compartment. We enjoyed a lovely lunch under a blue sky as the fog pulsed and swirled around us. At 1400 we were back underway, the fog finally dissipating under the hot sun and light breeze. No sooner had we pulled out that another fog bank rolled in to cover Dodd Islets. We opted to cut through Jackson Passage/Narrows to Mathieson Channel. As soon as we left the cool breeze behind it was wonderfully warm! We had a beautiful afternoon and evening as we cruised familiar waters again and pushed on to Oliver Cove in Reid Passage.

Another late start the next morning, but a beautiful mid morning run to Bella Bella/Shearwater. I'll take this weather! We're finally feeling like we're getting a summer. Better late than never. We wove our way through Reid Passage which was filled with islets dotted with windblown bonsai-like trees. Beautiful green against the blue sky and water. The lovely ocean swells are mesmerizing as they build whitecaps whenever they find the rocks hidden just below the surface. We slowly made our way to Seaforth Channel. Not a breath of wind for our sails but without the breeze the full warmth of the sun feels wonderful on my bear skin.
Well the fog has lifted and we're off again. We're heading to Queens Sound for a little exploration before rounding Cape Caution. We hope to be back on the east side of Vancouver in a week if this weather holds. Hello to my family! I'll try and call from Port McNeill.

Love to everyone,
Alison, Ron and Juichi

Monday, September 8, 2008

back to the Behm

Ahh, a good nights sleep does wonders. Well worth the push. As you can see on flickr the waters couldn't have been calmer for the crossing of Dixon Entrance and Chatham Sound. We had a little trouble getting our Navigation Lights running, but Ron finally got things squared away before we ran through Venn Passage.

...okey dokey. Back to the blogging...

We left Meyers Chuck and headed for the Behm (pronounced beam) Canal. Along the way we got to see a small pod of humpbacks bubble-net feeding! A beautiful day followed us to Naha Bay in the Behm. There we met Jim, Carol and Joani on their sailboat and had a lovely happy hour with them! We got their numbers to touch base with them in Ketchikan (more on that later). We had a nice hike along the Naha River Trail and saw a bear forging for salmon. Salmon carcasses lined the trail with only their bellies and brains eaten by the bear and the rest left to rot. We had a nice short hop up to Traitor's Cove and met Jack & Bev and Bernie & Lynn who joined us on the lovely walk (Ron and I's legs were still sore from the hike of stairs back in El Cap!) to the bear observatory platform and salmon spawning grounds. We enjoyed another improptu happy hour and combined dinners for a fun evening with new friends.

We continued around The Backside (aka Misty Fjords National Monument) of the Behm and the weather held beautifully. The towering granite walls made you feel big and small at the same time. We enjoyed a day entirely to ourselves down to Walker Cove, not seeing another sign of people presence. Punchbowl Cove made up for that by being THE destination for flightseeing tours and fast sightseeing boats. Bleeck! But it was beautiful nonetheless and the evening and morning was quite between the tours. We passed rowing ashore to New Eddystone Rock because of the seals sunning on the beach and the killer whales waiting in the waters.

We mosied back to Ketchikan on a beautiful summer day and rang Jim and Carol. They invited us over to their place, overlooking Clover Passage on the Western side of the Behm Canal, for a BBQ and then put us up for the night in their spare room after a soak in their hottub under an amazing blanket of stars! The next morning we had a nice hike to take in the views along Clarence Strait. Jim loaned us his truck for the day, which really helped with provisioning - we really stocked up on beer! (we are heading back to Canada after all!)

So that about catches y'all up. We're pulling out of Prince Rupert in the next few minutes and will hopefully be down around Vancouver in the next few weeks. We'll keep in touch and hopefully plan the rendezvous in the San Juans sooner rather than later.

Love and hugs to all,
Alison, Ron and Juichi

Ketchikan, Alaska to Prince Rupert, Canada

Hello from Canada! Yes, that's right folks (esp. those we talked to last night and this morning - god, was that THIS morning!?!) Ketchikan to Prince Rupert in one day! 80-90 miles! 15 hours! yikes! But the weather was great! Smooth sailing. Well not actual sailing we averaged a little over 6 knots with the iron genny at 22rpms. Our knot log is STILL not functioning so we're not for sure on the exact miles. But man...BEAUTIFUL! Calm waters, not much rain (per our usual, poured down right as we approached the docks!). We just kept moving. We had to navigate Venn Passage (Wally and Katy - remember that passage with all the marks when we left Prince Rupert?) in the dark after 14 hours underway. Very exciting. Ron and I bit a couple times but made up quick - by the next mark :) Something that took us three days heading north, done in one heading south. Not bad. We're getting pretty good at this cruising thing, I must say. Anyway, it's late, I'm spent and Ron's got brie, olive bread, beer and a fire going! Yeah baby! Goodnight. I'll continue the lower blog tomorrow....

It's been quite the adventure and I'm sad to be saying goodbye to Alaska. But it's all for the best, winter is approaching. Ron and I are hoping someone out there will be sending us to Mexico for Christmas (this is the Internet after all).

We left Craig after a nice little (steady 40 knot winds!) storm passed through and made our way North thru El Capitan Passage. Day 100 was a beautiful day as we wove our way through the islands that fill the north area of Sea Otter Sound. We saw numerous sea otters but they're nervous little buggers and won't let you get very close. However, Ron did get fairly close - almost running it over - to a deer swimming across one of the channels. We set our shrimp pot outside of Devilfish Bay and as we were making our way into the bay, the rain started. It wasn't a very hard rain and the clouds were beautiful. There were a few evening sun breaks and we had a beautiful rainbow. A very pleasant evening all to ourselves in this quiet bay. The next morning started with a hazy 1 mile of visibility. The white noise of the countless light raindrops on the calm waters in the bay was enough to brush over the drone of the engine. We had a nice pull of prawns, 35. Mid morning we pulled onto the USFS dock on the southern flank of 2,500 foot El Capitan Peak. We climbed a steep trail of over 360 stairs to one of the deepest caves in the US. Unfortunately, there were no tours being held and the small entrance was pitch black! No light, no go. But the hike was good for our out of shape bodies and our calfs were sore for at least a week!
We made our way up Sumner Strait on a beautiful afternoon with Mt. Calder out along with a few humpbacks. As we turned into Port Protection the rain started in earnest, trying to make up for the rest of the day. By the time we were tying up to the public float in Wooden Wheel Cove the sun was back out. I don't know what the people made of us suited up and soaked under clear and sunny skies. We ran into Johnny, who we met in Wrangell on the 4th of July and he took us in his motorized skiff :) over to explore the miles of boardwalks winding through Port Protection. Unlike Elfin Cove and Pelican this boardwalk town wound through the woods rather than being confined to waters edge. It was beautiful, with lots of blueberries ready for pickin'. Johnny joined us for dinner and it was fun to have company on the boat.

A couple long days on the water brought us back to Meyers Chuck. The only bit of repeat waters after 2 months in Southeast Alaska. What a treat to see 'Patsy' Steve (remember him?). After our morning coffee, complete with sticky buns!, we answered an invite over to Steve and Cass' place. The day turned out to be beautiful and the visit took up more than a few hours laughing at Steve's stories and ticking off the countless jobs Cass does around The Chuck - from postmistress to weather reporter to NOAA, to her beautiful artwork (woodworking, fish prints and stained glass just to name a few) and helping to run and stock the local art gallery. She stays very busy. We followed her down to the Post Office, just down the path from their house at the top of their boat ramp, while she sold fishing license and deer tags. We met Gregg, another resident of The Chuck, and he offered us some Geo Duc. Neither Ron nor I had ever tried 'em so we took Steve up on his offer to ride us over to the Back Chuck to get our Geo Duc cleaning and cooking lessons. The day kept getting more beautiful and warm by the minute and Ron and I decided it was well worth a day to hang out with the locals of Meyers Chuck. We spent the afternoon chatting with Steve on the dock, with other locals stopping by throughout the afternoon.
.....whooo. past midnight. i'll have to catch you up on the behm tomorrow.....