Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The view changes

     I'm still working on going through trip photos and writing up more highlights from the trip--because believe me, there will be a part 2 of those highlights. However, I have to interrupt that with a realization. I mentioned in a previous post that there will be times that I'll get a little deeper and share my thoughts and musings over this life of ours. This is most certainly one of those times...

Highlights of the trip, part 1

     All right, all right. I freely admit I haven't been as diligent about covering our travels this time around as I was last year. As I said before, we've just been having too darn much fun for me to settle down and take the time to write about it all. I've taken a ton of photos on this trip, however, so I will take some time, pick out some favorites, and let the photos tell the story of this vacation.
     A few highlights though... Krestof Sound was a great place to anchor up and play for an evening. We found a little beach that was only available during low tide and lit a campfire. Joe and Pat turned over a bunch of big rocks and found crabs everywhere. Levi poked around in a fortress of old trees and moss and found the Holy Grail of beachcombing--a small glass float. At first, he didn't grasp the enormity of what he found--then Dad and Uncle both informed him they had each only ever found one, and that was when they were kids!
     We poked around the old Chichagof gold mine in Klag Bay, up at the very head of Khaz Bay. For once, we were the only boat in the anchorage. It was beautiful and quiet. It was fun ducking through the trees and poking through ruins, treading carefully on old foundations and climbing hills of mine tailings. After a particularly tough hill to climb, Pat announced he found the entrance to the old mine. Somehow, the four kids and Joe and I made it up that slippery hill, rocks sliding down from our feet the whole way up. Totally worth it, though. We found equipment left from a crew who attempted to reopen the mine back in the mid-1980s and although the entrance was completely barricaded by a cave-in, we stuck our heads inside the mine, just to say we have been inside. Thankfully, the way down was much less precarious, having found the old road up to the mine.
     After Klag Bay, it was time to cruise the inside route through Ogden Passage and Portlock Harbor, out to the Gulf via Imperial Passage. The whole crew was itching for a stop at White Sulphur Hot Springs! Even though Joe had our track recorded on our chart from the last trip into the West Arm of Mirror Harbor, he still asked Pat and I to stand bow watch on the way in. Still a little nerve-wracking to see rocks underwater that close to the hull... Kyrie made it through the gauntlet safely and Joe and I anchored her up. Then it was time to pack up food and swim gear and hike to the springs!
      Later that evening, Joe checked our e-mail and we were tickled to discover that our new friends aboard SV Arctic Monkey were due to arrive at the springs the next day. We met the Morgans the day before we left on this trip, having connected via the Boatschooled Facebook page. They have three girls, close to the ages of our kids, and Rachael especially clicked with their middle daughter, Leah. We had talked up the springs so much to them and now they were going to be able to meet us here! I love that we were able to share a place we love so much with new friends.
     After a difficult good-bye to our friends, we went our separate ways back to our boats. The plan was to take Kyrie up to Greentop Harbor the next day, which we had only ever been to once before, nearly twenty years ago. It was not the most comfortable ride--there was a swell with a pretty nasty chop and a couple of times, Kyrie's bow was pointed nearly skyward. Then, upon arrival in Greentop, we apparently entered the wrong way. After tucking behind the safety of Greentop rock, there is a small island named Elbow Island. The portside path looks like the correct route, even though there is a lot of kelp and rocks because it's wider, compared to the starboard path. However, we were greeted by a couple who have a cabin in Greentop and they informed us the other way is safer! Much narrower, but deeper and no rocks to worry about avoiding. We kept that in mind for the way out.
     Greentop is well-protected from any waves outside and it is quiet! Pat and Michael took the kayak out to explore the nooks and crannies, while Joe and I took our kids on a hike. A trail would take us across to Lisianski Strait, but it was pretty rough terrain and Megan just couldn't do it. It was still beautiful and fun.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A day in Sitka and Goddard

     Geek out time! One advantage of Joe working for the Coast Guard and having a job site at Air Station Sitka is that he got permission for us to check it out. After breakfast, we piled into the dinghy and rode it over to the Coast Guard dinghy dock. We got to see a Jayhawk fueling up and then taking off. We got a little bit of a tour in the galley remodel that Joe is in charge of. The kids were tickled to finally be able to see one of Dad's jobsites in progress.
     Soon, it was time to walk over to the airport. While we waited for Pat and Michael's plane to arrive, we enjoyed pie in the airport restaurant--coconut cream and Reese's. Yummy! Shortly, the plane arrived and it was time to go greet our family.
     After walking back to the air station, Joe was able to track someone down who let us walk through the hanger and check out the other Jayhawk, including letting the kids inside it. I think they were impressed. I know the three adults were! Then it was time to get everything back to Kyrie and then go get lunch in Sitka.
     Seven of us meant two trips in the dinghy (which we have christened "Special K"), but at last it was time to walk to Joe's favorite restaurant for lunch. I don't remember its name, but it is a Filipino restaurant and we all thoroughly enjoyed the pancit and chicken adobo. Joe and Pat pigged out on the sisig, since the rest of us weren't big fans.
     We decided not to stay in Sitka too long, since we wanted to get to Goddard for the afternoon. After a stop at the fuel dock for diesel and water, Kyrie was on her way again, rather full with seven people! Goddard is definitely not our favorite of the three hot springs we visit on these trips, but there is no arguing with how good a soak in hot water feels...
     After converting the table for the first time into our "guest bed," we got all the kids settled and the adults thoroughly enjoyed a visit in the cockpit with some adult beverages. We hadn't had the chance to visit with Pat in a couple of years, so it was an evening of really good conversations--only one of many on this trip.
     The next day, we left Goddard with the idea of sailing out around Cape Edgecumbe. At first, it seemed like it would work. There was about a 6-foot swell with a 1-foot chop on top, but the wind was lovely and Kyrie kicked her heels up. Unfortunately, Michael got rather seasick and even Rachael needed to come outside for some fresh air, requiring a change of plans. Instead, I pointed Kyrie's bow toward the entrance to Krestof Sound. It was time to go find a fun beach to explore and have a short day on the water.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Too much fun to remember to write

All right, all right. Guilty as charged. I have been sadly remiss keeping an up-to-date log of our trip this time around. What can I say? Even the family scribe has been having too much fun to stop and write down what all we have been doing. I don't think we had even arrived in Baranof the last time I wrote something. *sigh* I have some catching up to do. ;)
Baranof, as usual, was a welcome stop. We already donned our swimsuits and packed backpacks with towels, water and snacks while on our way into Warm Springs Bay. That way we could go straight to the natural springs as soon as we docked. It was beautiful there as always, but one slight problem. Because it hadn't rained in a while, the springs were HOT! I know, I know, it's a hot springs--don't we want it hot? Yes, but not so hot that we couldn't really get in and enjoy them. Oh well. Back down the trail and try out the bathtubs. Those were a lot better and after soaking in the tubs for a half hour or so, it was time to head back to Kyrie and make dinner.
The other two boats planned on staying all the next day, leaving the following morning, but we pulled away from the dock about 12:00. Joe was afraid of waiting too long and getting hit by currents trying to get up Chatham Strait and into Peril Strait. It actually wasn't a bad run. The wind of course was almost directly on our nose, but the sun shone and the back deck was a lovely place to hang out. Joe rigged up the hammock on the back deck and Megan ended up crawling in with me later in the afternoon and fell asleep for an hour. Not a bad run at all!
We entered Peril Strait and enjoyed that stretch as well. Appleton Cove was our destination, but we slowed down shy of it to check something out. Joe saw something shiny on the shore and through the binoculars was able to see it was a fishing troller on its side. He detoured Kyrie over so we could check it out--partly because that is just not something you see often (thankfully) and also because he thought we ought to be absolutely sure it hadn't just happened, even though we hadn't heard any radio traffic about a boat needing help. As we approached, it became obvious the troller had been there for a while. Such a shame. It looked like a really nice working boat. I found myself wondering what had happened, and hoping the crew were all okay...
Appleton Cove was only a few miles beyond, so it was time to continue. Don Douglass's book Exploring Southeast Alaska called Appleton one of the best anchorages in Peril Strait, so we thought we would give it a try. Of course, that meant there were five other boats in the cove with us that night--four pleasure boats and a seiner--and crab pots everywhere! Unfortunately, those annoying little gnats that had been plaguing us the whole trip were in residence in Appleton Cove as well. They chased us inside and at least encouraged us to go to bed a little early. We wanted to be sure to catch the tide right for going through Sergius Narrows the next morning.