Friday, December 29, 2017

Sympathy for Shackleton

     The year is almost over, and December has been a crazy month for Kyrie's crew, as usual.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Back to our winter home

     I know, I know. It's been forever since this blog has been updated. No excuses given except that life just kept getting in the way, I guess. Since our big trip this summer, we managed to get Kyrie out a few more times, although I don't seem to have taken pictures. One of these Taku Harbor trips, I will get some good pictures! We've been there so many times I think it's just so familiar, and so I don't feel the need to cart the camera around and take pictures. Then I look at my kids and see how big they're getting and realize I need to better document their growing-up years, no matter how familiar the location is! So, note to self: take more Taku Harbor photos. In fact, take more photos period!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words....

We didn't know it would turn into the "ABCD" trip yet!
 We are finally back in cell range, with Juneau in sight. It's been an amazing two weeks for Kyrie and her crew. I don't think any of our descriptions could do justice to some of the places we have seen, so now that I finally can, I'm going to post some photos of just a few of the things we have done and the beauties we got to see on this trip.  Obviously be warned this post is extremely picture heavy.  Click on a picture for a higher resolution image.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Enjoying the sun

Vacation is nearly over and what a time it has been! After leaving White Sulphur--once again threading our way through the gauntlet of Mirror Harbor--we cruised up the coast to what Joe and his family refer to as "the long sand beach." In order to reach it, Kyrie and Sandpiper anchored in the south forty of Hoktaheen Cove, which is an area they spent a lot of time in while Joe was young and they commercial fished the nearby waters. The weather was beautiful and the kids had been begging for a campfire and hot dogs on the beach some time on this trip. Perfect time to do this! We packed up everything and loaded up the skiff for a trip to the shore.
That wasn't our target beach, however. "The long sand beach" is a trip through the woods, across a small peninsula from the beach we landed on. On both sides, there is a ton of brush to bushwhack through, but inside, it is like fairyland. I've only been through those woods a few times, but each time I have a sneaking suspicion there are elves and fairies watching our passage from behind the trees and humps of moss. Something certainly lives in those woods, judging from the well-used trails. My elves and fairies are most likely of the brown furry types--some with teeth and claws and others with hooves and horns.
Our exit required some hacking through the brushy trees at the end and then there was the beach! The tide was going out as we arrived, so the beach kept getting bigger! Shoes and boots and socks came off and the kids ran off to explore. Staying in sight wasn't a problem, but the big bear tracks convinced us all to not go too far from the rest of the group. I have so many pictures from that visit alone! The kids found a gigantic buoy to roll along the beach, there were crabs everywhere, along with little needlefish, left stranded on the sand when the tide retreated. We all collected wood for a campfire, but agreed it was too warm for a big one. We contented ourselves with enough wood to cook our hot dogs and marshmallows.
All too soon, the sun disappearing behind the trees announced it was time to head back. I, for one, had no desire to find my way back through those woods in the dark.
After wrestling the skiff from its place high up on the beach, someone noticed the sunset. I don't have professional photography equipment, so there was no way to capture the sight. I had never seen a spire of light shooting up from where the sun had disappeared below the horizon before. It was an awe-inspiring sight and definitely made it worth leaving the beach, because the spire wasn't visible through the trees.
The next day was quiet and relaxing. Joe and his dad went ashore to walk in the meadow beyond the beach. His mom and I and the kids stayed on the boats to read and play games. Levi, Rachael and I got out at separate times in the kayak to explore a bit. Later on, we made the decision to move farther up the cove, hoping that position would be less rolly. Same as the previous night, a bunch of trollers anchored up in the south forty also, although Joe and his parents both said there were hardly any. They remembered nights when there were so many boats, it seemed as though one could walk from boat to boat!
Joe discovered that the Pacific Horizon, the packer his friend and boss from last summer runs, was anchored on the other side of the rocks from us, so he and his dad went over to visit.

Monday, August 7, 2017

White Sulphur

Well we made it! 3 separate hot springs in about a week and a half, but it has been quite the travel to arrange for.

Last afternoon about 1pm we pulled Kyrie into the west arm of Mirror harbor - an entrance not for the faint of heart. Thankfully, with good charts, good directions (thanks to the Douglas's "Exploring Southeast Alaska") and a apt bow watch, we made it in unscathed. We were supposed to meet Joe's mom and dad here, but they hadn't arrived yet and were not answering our hails on VHF so we made the hike to the springs with the kids.

The redone hot springs were spectacular. The reconstruction is top notch, and as always the setting is as beautiful as it gets. After a long soak, we waddled back up the 45 min. trail to the boat and sat down to dinner, wondering what on earth had happened to Mom & Dad.

They finally pulled in at 8:15 last night, exhausted and obviously frazzled, with quite the story to tell. Not only was the trip out a rough one, they had engine troubles.. It appears their fuel pump on the engine is on their last legs, but they were able to nurse it along by using the primer squeeze bulb. I don't envy their trip out like that though.

Now that they arrived, this morning Dad, Levi, and I took the skiff out to scout the area, and even saw a deer on the beach. As we came back, the sun arrived in spades, and we were able to hike over to the springs all together and really enjoyed our day.

Weather will dictate our itineary for the next few days, but we're not sure which direction we are headed. We are trying to arrange via email to get spare parts flown out for M&D, and intend to play thoroughly the next few days while we wait.

Current position:
Lat 57 degrees, 47.788'N
Lon 136 degrees, 20.066'W

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Catching up

Moon: noun. Earth's natural satellite, controls the tides. On rare occasions, when it takes on a blue tint, conditions are optimal for sailing.

Obviously, there is not a blue moon right now because the wind has been terrible for sailing this trip. As is typical for Southeast, the wind has either been on our nose, or nonexistent. It doesn't mean, however, that we haven't been thoroughly enjoying our trip. Let me back up a couple of days. Today, I think, is Saturday.
Thursday, we left Still Harbor in Whale Bay, and motored directly into a fog bank. We had to round North Cape and Aspid Cape, and then pass Beauchamp Island before we would be able to turn away from open water and enter calmer waters. Kyrie's intrepid captain steered her through Second and First Narrows, which were well marked and not complicated. Levi and I stood up on the bows during the trip through Dorothy Narrows, however, which was a bit more exciting. It was longer and more narrow, with patches of kelp everywhere. As every boater knows, or very quickly finds out, stay out of the kelp and away from the breakers! Not long after emerging from the Narrows, we rounded a point and there was Goddard Hot Springs.
That was a lovely stop. We anchored Kyrie not far from shore in about 30 feet of water and ferried ashore in the dinghy. Goddard has two stainless steel tubs in little log huts--one lower and one a short walk up a hill--that look out over the southern edge of Sitka Sound. Our family had the lower tub to ourselves and we must have soaked for an hour and a half before finally deciding that if we were going to try to get to Sitka that day, we ought to haul ourselves out of the tub and back to the boat.
It was a good thing we got out of there. The wind wasn't so bad at first--about 12 knots from the northwest, but the seas were crazy. Southerly six-foot swell with a northwesterly five- to six-foot chop. It was weird and uncomfortable. Then, it got worse. As we got into the lee of Cape Edgecumbe, the wind decided to blow 20-25 knots on our beam and the seas decided to kick up into six feet, very close together. All we could do was grit our teeth and go for it. After pounding into that mess for three-and-a-half hours, we finally ducked into Sitka Harbor. Our original intention was to play it cheap and anchor in the harbor. However, the two-foot chop made us very leery of using the dinghy, so we gave in and called the harbormaster to find a spot to dock. After turning in the wrong harbor and Joe doing some very fancy footwork to get us out of there, we finally found the right spot, only to have the wind blow us right past it. We said, "Screw it," and docked in the one we could get in, happily accepting offers of assistance. Docking in 20 knots is not for the faint of heart, nor should it be taken lightly.
Docklines tied, buoys out, engine off. Cue a huge sigh of relief. We discovered our neighbors--fellow cruisers--are former Prout owners and knew we needed to talk more with them, but first, the crew required feeding. Off we walked to find dinner, noting that the land absolutely did not move right. It was late when we got back and we were all exhausted, so it was off to bed. Safe in Sitka!
Friday dawned beautifully. It had all the hallmarks of a gorgeous day--has summer finally arrived in Southeast? The wind, however, told us we were definitely not leaving the harbor that day. The wind was predicted to be 25 knots northwest, but that usually means a higher number. Most of the fishing fleet got scared back to the harbor, if that tells you anything. We spent the day wandering the town. Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska and was originally called New Archangel. Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Church stands right smack in the middle of downtown--unfortunately the original building burnt down in the 1960s, but nearly all the sacred relics and icons were saved and put back in the new church went it was rebuilt. We toured the Russian Bishop's house and Sheldon Jackson Museum before deciding we better do our grocery shopping while we still had energy left.
Once settled back on Kyrie for the evening, we were visited by some friends we made while their sailboat, Pegasus II, was in Douglas Harbor. Hello to Brett and Barbara! Hello also to Paul and Cate, and Mike and Linda on Dreamweaver. I hope you all have smooth sailing and a safe return home!
Today was long. After filling the fuel tank, Kyrie and her crew departed Sitka. At first, you guessed it--there was no wind. The sun shone however, and it was warm! We exited Sitka Sound, transiting Olga and Neva Straits and then entered Salisbury Sound, which is open to the Gulf of Alaska. It was choppy and made for a long slog past Pt. Leo, around Klokachef Island, and past Khaz Point so we could enter Piehle Passage, which is a back way behind little barrier islands and a much more comfortable ride. Khaz Bay was a gauntlet of seiners, which was fun to see and a bit of a maze to negotiate. At last, we ducked into Ogden Passage and followed it back to Kimshan Cove, pointing out sea otters all along the way. What a relief to drop the anchor and turn off the engine, finally at rest after a long day! Tomorrow will be much shorter, as our target is White Sulphur Hot Springs!
Where's that blue moon? I want to sail on this trip for longer than an hour!

Current position:
Lat: 57 degrees, 41.234' N.
Long: 136 degrees, 06.570' W.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Day of Deliciousness

Today was somewhat less eventful than the last couple days, but still quite enjoyable. We pulled anchor after a leisurely breakfast in Redfish Bay. It was a lovely morning with multiple bears on the beach, including one about 100' away from our starboard side.

Upon exiting Redfish Bay, the promising wind we had in the anchorage completely petered out...  We were seeing mighty gusts of up to 5 knots, not even enough to fill the sails.

So - we went fishing!

We motored about an hour north to just in front of the Kekur Peninsula and dropped two lines. Within 10 minutes we had our first fish, a nice coho - and were thrilled. We figured it was a fluke and put the line down again, hoping against hope. Not 5 minutes later, the same pole bent in half and sung out line. This time we handed the rod to Levi, and he landed his first salmon, a nice coho, about 8-9 pounds. We put the line down again and not 10 minutes later it went off again, with Kristen then landing her first salmon in years, and finally dropped it a last time, and within 5 minutes, Rachael got her first ever salmon, another 8-9 pound fish.

All in all, we fished less than an hour and had 4 nice coho and one large brown bomber. Just terrible times around here. The only reason we stopped fishing is the fish kept swallowing the hooks, and we couldn't release them without killing them.

For lunch, we made a blackened salmon and rockfish salad which was readily devoured. For dinner appetizer, we had salmon sashimi. For dinner, we had baked spicy teriyaki salmon with rice pilaf. We still have 3 whole salmon we will need to choke down somehow in the next week or so. It's a tough life.

To top it off, it was sunny again, with temps in the mid 70's. I'd say it was a good trade for not being able to sail today.

Tonight we are anchored in a beautiful bay, Still Harbor, right off of Whale bay.

Current Position:
Lat 56 degrees 32.405N
Lon 135 degrees 00.822W

-The Kyrie Crew

Another Amazing Day

Yesterday (Tuesday) was another one for the books. It is incredible how the days keep getting better and better. I wonder how we are going to top this one though!

We awoke to bright sun in Port Armstrong, tied to the dock at the hatchery. The Marsons - the boat I (Joe) crewed on last year - had arrived late last night and was getting ready to seine for the hatchery's cost recovery. I should mention we woke up a number of times last night to fish bonking into the hull - there were so many of them schooling in the bay. Well, Ben, the hatchery manager, was running his skiff around to scare the fish into the seine net. Levi got up and Ben offered to take him along when they made their next set. I should mention this was all happening not 100' off of our starboard side. Levi got a little more than he bargained for, and Ben ended up taking him over to the tender, Viking, as they were offloading the 21,000 pounds of fish from the first set. He even got to help sort the fish as they came aboard.

After the first set, the Marsons quickly got ready for another one, and Ben and Levi were again out doing donuts in the bay to help scare the fish out of the shallows. It looked like quite a wild ride and Levi returned to us a little green, but smiling!

About 10am we left Port Armstrong for parts further south and were actually able to set the sails for about an hour before the wind died, which was the first sailing we have been able to do this entire trip. We put out a couple fishing lines, but no luck yet. We hope to get the salmon skunk off of the boat pretty soon! After a couple hours, we pulled into Port Alexander for a day stop.

Port Alexander is a remote, cute, fishing village that hasn't succumbed to the tourism bug so prevalent in the area. It still has the quaint feel of the old time fishing villages, with a boardwalk connecting the homes in the community and a skiff being the primary mode of transportation. We walked the boardwalk with the kids - stopping every couple hundred feet to pick and eat red huckleberries, blueberries, and salmonberries. I have never seen so many currants in one place! On the boardwalk we met up with Sage and Torin, a couple kids Levi's and Rachael's age and were invited back to their place. As it turned out, their parents run a small lodge and homestead in PA. We timed the visit right because they had 4 ducklings and 20 chicks. The kids had a ton of fun playing with kids their own age, even for a short time, and holding the baby birds. There was even a trampoline for them to play on.

After a couple hours, we went back to the boat and put the skiff in the water to head into the inner bay of PA. I remembered from my childhood there was a ship graveyard that I wanted to see again, and it didn't disappoint. The large wooden minesweeper I remembered from 20 years ago was still there, although much more severely deteriorated. It was joined by a group of smaller wood fishing boats that had been beached directly adjacent. Everyone had fun crawling around the wrecks for half an hour.

We then untied, and made our way to the southernmost point in our journey as the weather was good to round the cape. We rounded Cape Ommaney at the southern tip with a gentle 5' swell from the south at about 3pm. Unfortunately the wind didn't cooperate and we were not able to sail, so we ended up motoring about 3 hours further up the coast to Redfish Bay. There is a run of sockeye coming into the river at the head of the bay at the moment and the whole bay is full of jumping sockeye. This also attracts brown bears. We were able to sit in the mirror-calm anchorage all evening watching the fish and the bears, and admiring the smells and sounds of the wilderness.

All in all, one to really try to top, but it will be hard!!

-Posted via Winlink over Pactor Modem, so no photos until we get near civilization again!

Current position:
Lat 56 degrees, 21.097'N
Lon 134 degrees, 51.502'W

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sea Lions! And Salmon! And Bears! Oh My!

Well, today was more than pleasant. We left Red Bluff Bay about 9:30 this morning in the light fog and mist. The night was wonderful and supremely quiet - just the noise of the waterfalls and an occasional gull cry.

There was a gentle swell from the south, about 4-5' and the fog was lifting as we exited the bay and into Chatham Strait. Through the course of the afternoon, the fog disappeared, and the sun actually came through. Believe it or not, it was sunny today!!

Due to the nice weather, we went a little further today - partially to charge our batteries - and ended up pulling into Port Armstrong.

I (Joe) visited this hatchery last year just before I started my current job and had good memories of it. In the sun, it did not disappoint. There are salmon jumping everywhere, which of course excited the kids to no end, and there are brown bears everywhere.

After a wonderful dinner of fresh coho, we took the kids out in the skiff to the two beaches where bears congregate. On one beach we watched a juvenile male get chased away by a big boar. We could hear their yelling in the trees as they fought. On another beach, a sow and little cub walked out - way too darn cute!

And yes, there is also a large group of sea lions sharing the bay with us. We heard them barking at each other just a few minutes ago.

All in all, a fantastic day. We look forward to new adventures tomorrow, and hopefully some more fresh salmon!

-The Kyrie Crew

Current Position:
Lat. 56 degrees, 17.734' N,
Long. 134 degrees, 39.788' W.

Red Bluff Bay

Well, Baranof was nice - I think we are all one solid prune after at least 3 soaks each. It was however very, very, wet (and not the warm type). Last night, it rained approximately 3 1/2 inches. It was a thunderous downpour on the boat roof, and there was certainly a significant storm outside the bay, as there was a nasty swell getting to us at the dock 1 1/2 miles back!

We slept well nonetheless, got up late, had eggs benedict, caught a couple rockfish off the dock, and then headed out about 3:30 because the weather seemed settled enough to move on (and we were getting a bit bored).

So, we pulled out and motored down to Red Bluff Bay. WOW! I had no idea this was here and it is magnificent. It is about a 3-mile long fjord about 15 miles south of Baranof. The mountains completely encircle it with peaks from 3100-4500 feet and cascading waterfalls throughout. One area you motor through is about 100 yards wide with 500' cliffs on both sides.

We are anchored up at the far head of the bay, the water is the color of coffee and the meadow next to us is called "bear meadow". We hope to see some in the morning as they frequent the area.

In the meantime, we are swinging on the anchor in a glassy anchorage drinking some wine. Here's to vacation!!

Current Location:
Lat 56 50.37'N
Lon 134 47.06'W

-The Kyrie Crew

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beeline to Baranof

Well we did it, we made it to Baranof Warm Springs. Total time in transit was 18.5 hours from downtown Juneau.

The decision was late coming to just press through the night for an early arrival due to a strong southerly system predicted to blow in on Saturday early afternoon.

Well it looks like that prediction was correct, the last 4 hours of our transit was in building seas, about 4' by the time we made it to Baranof. It looks like the right call was made!

We ended up leaving Juneau at 2:30pm, and were docked in Baranof at 9:00 the following morning. Our track was 102 nautical miles, heading south through Stephens Passage, West through Fredrick Sound, and North through Chatham Strait.

Now we'll just layover here until the system lets up a bit - which might be a couple days. Oh well, I could think of a lot worse places to get stuck than a hot spring!

Current position 57 degrees, 05.330' N; 134 degrees, 49.978' W.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Is it vacation time yet?

     I've come to a conclusion. It truly does not matter what type of vacation we are taking, whether it's just Joe and me, or the entire family, how long the vacation will be, or even if we take our whole house with us on said vacation, preparing to go on vacation is stressful and hard work!
     Did I mention we're going on vacation? We are, on Friday, as a matter of fact, and yes, this will be a vacation on Kyrie. We are taking our boat out on what will hopefully be an ABC circumnavigation. What exactly is that? Well, ABC is Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof Islands. If we are able to take the route we want to, we will go all the way around these three islands. However, as Joe is wont to say, "Those plans are written on the beach at low tide." 
     We hope the weather will permit us to leave Juneau, head south down Stephens Passage, around the southern tip of Admiralty, and across Chatham Strait to Baranof Warm Springs for a couple of days. Then, we hope to continue south down Chatham, exit and round the tip of Baranof Island, stopping at a few places along the way, before visiting Goddard Hot Springs and then continuing on to Sitka. We can pick up any food we need there and do any laundry we might need to do before continuing on up the outer coast of Baranof and then Chichagof, meeting up with Joe's parents at White Sulphur Hot Springs. (By the way, have you picked up on the theme of this trip yet? Three--count them! Three hot springs we plan on visiting!) After White Sulphur, we want harbor hop up the coast and enter Cross Sound, stop at Elfin Cove, and then either Excursion Inlet or Hoonah before heading back up Chatham Strait, round Point Retreat, and start making our way back to our good old slip in Douglas.
     Joe requested two weeks off from work, so we have two weeks to make this grand adventure. Hopefully we can take our time and thoroughly enjoy ourselves--unlike our last two-week trip. While that was actually fun, I would like to not be in such a time-crunch this time. If you're new to this blog and confused, check here and there to read about us bringing Kyrie up from Washington last year.
     What I've realized through getting ready is that there is still a ton of work to get ready for vacation, even when we're bringing our whole house along! The fridge and pantry needed to be restocked, laundry had to be done, including all bedding, a bunch of stuff needed to get off of Kyrie because it just didn't need to be on her, in addition to making sure everyone who needs to know knows we will be in and out of cell range for the next two weeks and finalizing everything for all the kids' school supplies and activities. I think everything is ordered and should be here when we get back, and sign-ups are done!
     On a side note, if they are reading this, I wanted to give a shout out to Jake and Merridy on Beachcomber. Please forgive me if I misspelled names! We met them last night upon coming out of the Thai restaurant in Auke Bay. Levi and Rachael noticed their dog (best way to meet other people!) and asked if they could pet her. My ears perked up when they said she was learning to be a boat dog. For the first time, we have now met other people who cruise on a catamaran. I know there are others like us out there somewhere, but it was nice to have proof-positive they exist.
     I am so ready to unplug from shore power, as well as from the usual day-to-day activities, and get out for a while. After all, isn't that what we bought and moved on to a boat to do?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Funter Bay with the sailing club

     I'm a couple of trips behind now, so let's see what I can share. Last weekend, the sailing club took a trip to Funter Bay, which is about 11-12 nautical miles south of Pt. Retreat, which is the northern tip of Admiralty Island, and on the west side.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A scheduled bottom cleaning

     The weather lately has been crappy, except for Sunday. I woke up that morning to Joe saying, "I think today's the beaching day!" The sun was shining, a slight breeze was out of the north and the tide was rising. A month ago, we wanted to beach Kyrie so we could change her zincs, but the weather just wasn't right. Despite it being Father's Day, Joe made the decision this could be our only clear weekend day for a while.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Can we breathe yet?

     Summer is here! I feel like we are nearly through with all of our crazy busy activities that have pulled in all different directions and we can finally enjoy just being.... The kids finished school a couple of weeks ago, but then I had a women's retreat this past weekend. I was on the team planning it, which started back in February with weekly meetings. Joe had been on the team for the corresponding men's retreat, so we were running hither and yon. His retreat was in April, so he has been waiting, just slightly impatiently, for mine to be through so we can have our evenings again! Anyway, last week was nuts. Joe had to go to Kodiak for work Sunday evening and didn't return until Wednesday evening. I dropped the kids off at a friend's house Thursday morning and left for the retreat. Joe had the kids all by himself this weekend, while fighting a nasty cough, so he didn't have the best weekend. Then, I got back from the retreat Sunday, tired as all get out, but feeling pretty good.
     Monday morning, chaos continued to reign. Joe met coworkers for breakfast while I dropped Levi off for his week at camp out at Echo Ranch again. He gets to go for five days this year, and since he's 10, he now gets to ride the zipline! He found out he was in a cabin with two of his really good friends, so he was a happy boy when I left. Next was taking Rachael downtown for her time at the Juneau Fine Arts Camp. She gets to take dance, ukulele lessons, cooking, watercolors, and calligraphy. Busy time for my big girl! In all this, Megan gets plenty of "Mommy and me" time, which I know she loves.
     All this continued activity is making me tired! But, now it's the kids that get to run around and I'm actually enjoying some downtime for the first time really since--gosh, I don't know. Maybe late last year before Joe started his ham radio class? And people wonder why I haven't signed my kids up for more activities this summer than they're already doing?! Aside from swim lessons for the girls later this summer and Vacation Bible School next week, we need to have time to not have plans. I'm looking forward to waking up in the morning and not have a clue as to what we're going to do that day.
     Another bright moment--Joe and I were examining our finances this morning and realized that we are firmly on track to meet our goal of having everything paid off, well before the end of the year! I'm so looking forward to putting money aside for our big adventure and seeing the numbers in the bank account rising. although seeing the debt amount decrease has been exceedingly satisfying. We're getting there! Every day, we're getting closer to being able to take Kyrie on the adventure for which we bought her. In the meantime, though, I try to remind myself that every day, especially living on a boat with three children, can be an adventure!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mishaps and an anniversary!

     Last weekend was one of those times when nothing goes according to plan. Kyrie's zincs are getting close to being in need of replacement and since she is designed for it, Joe and I came upon the idea of beaching her on nearby Sandy Beach for the change. Saturday should have been an excellent day for it, as the tides were at a relatively convenient time. We could have motored out of the harbor, rounded Mayflower Island and beached Kyrie in a pretty nice flat spot. We notified the Coast Guard of our plans since the beach is well-used and someone certainly would have seen the boat aground. I had strongly considered making a big sign saying, "Yes, we're fine. Yes, we meant to do this. No, we don't need any help," hopefully keeping us off of YouTube as boneheaded sailors who ran aground!
      But as so often happens, the weather did not behave as predicted. The wind was only supposed to be around 5 knots, but it was already 10-15 knots and blowing from the south, which could have made getting off the beach later difficult and potentially dangerous--that wind might have pushed Kyrie up on the rocks. The zinc exchange would have to wait until a safer time.
      All right. Next activity that had been a possibility--the sailing club had buoy races planned and we had been asked to act as committee boat again. This time, we brought some friends along to hang out on the boat with us while anchored. Joe and his friend had been asked to ride along on one of the other boats during the second race. The race got started and we were all having fun watching the progress. Spinnakers went up, bows crossed--it was fun! The race was about half over when it happened.
      The four of us adults were outside in the cockpit when we heard a loud thud from inside. With four kids in there, Joe called, "What was that?" No response and he ducked inside to check. Suddenly, he called with an urgency I don't normally hear, "Kristen, I need you, now!" He and Levi were down on the floor of the galley. Levi was crying and Joe was holding paper towels to his forehead. I could see blood on the floor.
     It turned out that Levi somehow tripped and fell headfirst down the steps into the galley, striking his forehead on the slider for one of the cabinets. It happened so quickly he couldn't get his hands out in front in time to stop himself. Poor kid! It didn't take long to realize this wasn't a simple cut--we needed to get Levi to a doctor and most likely he would need stitches. So I sat with a sobbing boy, pressing a wad of paper towels to his head while Joe got on the radio, announcing to the fleet that there was a medical emergency and we had to abandon our post as committee boat.
      Our friends helped get the anchor up and keep the other kids occupied while I sat with Levi. As soon as we were back at the dock, Joe took Levi and left me to finish securing Kyrie. Thankfully, the bleeding had nearly stopped at that point and Levi was fully capable of walking to the car. After about an hour, I got the word that Levi had indeed needed stitches, but had handled them like a champ and was doing fine. Mama could finally relax, knowing her boy was okay!
       So, that was our excitement this past weekend, which we could totally have done without... However, there was a reason to celebrate this week too. Yesterday was May 24, which marked our one-year anniversary of arriving back in Juneau! Kyrie has served us well in her current port, although, like us, I think she's ready get out and stretch her wings. It's time for Kyrie to be a boat again, instead of a floating apartment. We're off to Taku Harbor tomorrow for the long Memorial Day weekend and a mini vacation, which we all desperately need. The kids need a break from school and Joe and I need to cut loose and be able to just relax for a while. It's always fun and there are usually a lot of people out for the same reason. Here's to a few days of less responsibilities than usual!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Season Begins

     Yesterday, the sailing season officially began with the first race of the season.  Our sailing club SEAS participated in Juneau's Maritime Festival with buoy races out in Gastineau Channel. Kyrie was the committee boat, which means we anchored not far from a channel marker and marked the start and finish line.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A moment of silence

       Juneau, the town we love and call home, has suffered a tragedy. No, no one died, but something very precious to a lot of people was callously destroyed Monday evening. A playground that was built by the community back in 2007, involving hundreds of people and thousands of man-hours, was set ablaze. This wasn't just any playground. It really was a magical place, utilized by a majority of the community. There are photos of it all over the place--all you have to do is type in "Project Playground Juneau" to see them. If I can find any of my own, I'll add them to this post. Swings, slides, an ice castle, a play fishing boat, tunnels, boardwalks--this description doesn't do it justice. This park was a real center to our community. There were always kids running about, thoroughly enjoying its wonders and delights.
      I got the news from a friend at about 6:00 Monday evening. I felt shock, sadness, and outrage as I looked at the photos and watched my Facebook feed blow up. I didn't realize how much my kids would feel the loss. My son, especially, stomped around, saying, "Why would someone do such a thing, Mom?" Both the big kids said, "That's my favorite playground. And now it's gone." Sentiments being repeated around homes all over Juneau.
      Joe drove by the park on his way to a meeting last night and told me there were people gathered everywhere. Cars were stopped on the side of the highway, nearly every fire department vehicle in town was there. One would think someone of great importance had died and the town had convened to mourn. Not too terribly far from the truth.
      I was perusing Facebook this morning and came across a post by an acquaintance. She wrote a poem about this very real loss and I believe it expresses what most of us are probably feeling more than anything else I could say would. I will let her words end this post.

Smoke still curls, 
Charred bones remaining of buildings that 
Brought this borough together not so long ago. 
Cars line the street, 
Crimson flashing reflections in 
Motionless mirrors.
Children's hands and their laughter Float like ghosts in that
Space, empty and hollow.
Amber caution tape sways
Wider than the burned seats of swings,
Metal bars blackened.
Plastic flutters in the wind.
We cannot put out the flames with
Fear, or the
Tears that stream down.
Justice will not return
Wonder to Juneau's children's eyes, Imagination set free among
Castles and boats and joy.
Green grass, laid bare and burnt, will grow again.
But we must not stay so idle.

-Kristina Paulick

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring has sprung

     It's April here in Juneau, and it is beautiful! Kyrie has one sail back on now--her roller furling main--and we're enjoying some sunshine. I don't know what the official temperature is today, but I do know it's too warm to hang out in the cockpit at the moment since the back curtains aren't fully open. What a problem--too warm here in Juneau! I love it!
     Currently, I'm the only one on Kyrie. We got a kayak yesterday and Levi has taken to it like a fish in the water. Yes, we found an incentive to get him to buckle down and finish his school work. No taking the kayak until he's done with school. He finished everything by the time we were halfway done with grocery shopping today, so I hope this continues. He's been out in that kayak nearly all afternoon. I think he's going to find himself gaining some arm strength that will help him out in swimming quite a bit. In the meantime, Joe came home from work and lowered the dinghy to go for a cruise around the harbor. The girls decided they wanted to go along, and Levi took off in the kayak with them. A quiet 20 minutes to myself to enjoy the sun out on the bow? Nothing wrong with that! Although I'm beginning to think we may have to get another kayak if anyone else wants to be able to paddle around...
     In other news, we will be celebrating a birthday this week. Levi will be 10 on Wednesday! When I think of all that has happened since that boy made Joe and me parents... Wow, we've seen a lot of craziness in our lives. I can honestly say that 10 years ago, as I stared at my enormously pregnant belly, trying in vain to see my toes, I did not contemplate even the idea of living on a sailboat with not just the child I was carrying, but also two more! But you know something? I wouldn't change anything. Especially when I can be kicked on the bow of my dream boat, soaking up some April sun, here in Southeast Alaska. Right now, I really truly believe there are few moments that could top this.

Levi trying his skills in the new kayak.

Joe and the girls cruising in the dinghy.
Most of Kyrie's crew out enjoying the sunny day!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We've got cabin fever!

     What a far cry from the last time I wrote! It's just as pretty of a day out, but probably close to twenty degrees warmer. Yes, that equates to only about 42 degrees, but for a spring day in Alaska, that is delightful!
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!
I can tell spring is finally here because we are all bouncing around--and I really do mean all of us. I can't put all the blame on the kids--wanting to be outside in just sweatshirts because it looks like it ought to be warm, but isn't really. Yesterday, Levi was trying to teach Megan how to use his slingshot, firing rocks off the end of the float toward the breakwater. There's a scary thought--the two-year-old with a slingshot...

But let me backtrack a week or so... Can I first just say that Joe's parents were amazing to put up with us for what turned out to be a two-week invasion of their home? When Joe and I called them, begging for a warm place to escape to, we honestly planned on being there for just a few days, but the cold spell lasted for nearly a week. And that wasn't the end of the craziness. I've said it before and I will say it again. This is March. It is officially spring, right? Mama Nature evidently didn't get the memo, or maybe it's just a further reminder to us to not jump the gun and take all the winter coverings off so early next year. Regardless, Juneau--in fact, most of Southeast Alaska--got seriously dumped on with the snow! We received 20 inches between Sunday the 12th and Tuesday the 14th! An article in our local paper said that a dump like that in March isn't unusual--we just haven't had a typical winter in a while! It would figure that we get our first "typical winter in a while" the first winter we have Kyrie here in Juneau. The girls and I came down on Thursday last week while Levi was swimming to clean Kyrie off. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the "before shoveling" and "after shoveling" photos.  
When we got there, the snow on Kyrie's bow was level with the top of my boots and naturally, it wasn't just
any old light fluffy snow. No, this was the super wet, heavy, do-you-want-to-build-a-snowman snow. I still don't know how Rachael and I managed to get it all off the boat and be able to pick Joe up from work and Levi up from swimming in a little over an hour. Somehow, I thought when we moved out of the house and onto the boat, my snow shoveling days were at an end. HA!
Joe did some calculations and he figures there was close to two tons of snow on Kyrie's decks. Looking at the change in her waterline between pre- and post-snow removal, that seems like a fair assessment. I certainly felt like I moved a ton of snow. One good thing about all this snow is that the kids had a fantastic season at Eaglecrest, our local ski resort. The big kids get to take lessons throughout the winter through our homeschool group and this was the first year in a few that the kids were able to ski the whole season. Not too bad for Rachael's first time skiing. Both kids left me in the dust when we left Megan with Grandma and Grandpa and the four of us went skiing!

But now, thankfully, the weather seems to be changing.  Spring appears to finally be on the horizon.  We can't wait to hank the sails back on and get Kyrie out of the harbor for the first time in 6 months!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sound the retreat!

     That's it. Blow the horn. Pack it in. We temporarily concede defeat! Old Man Winter has won this round.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Beginning Spring Preparations

Well, we did it - we removed the remainder of our winter cover in preparation for spring, just in time for it to get cold again.  Oh well.  For those that don't know, we removed the reinforced poly tarp about a month ago during a severe windstorm (80+ knots) but still had the frame up, making Kyrie look a bit like a whale skeleton.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Brrr.. It's Cold Out There!

This winter (our first real winter aboard) has been . . . challenging.  While we are still enjoying living aboard winter in Alaska on a boat is not for the faint of heart.

The last 3 months it has been a roughly constant pattern.  Temps in the 30's and low 40's with lots of rain and heavy wind 40-50mph frequently for a week, then a sudden shift to clear and cold, along with more wind.  This week it is doing the same thing, just now shifting to around 28 for a high, 14 for a low, and heavy Taku winds.  For those not from the area, Taku winds are katabatic winds that affect downtown Juneau and Douglas, and the gusts can reach 90 miles an hour or stronger.  Two weeks ago, one of those windstorms with a steady 40, gusting to 80 plus took out our winter tarp cover.  We had used Scotch Tough poly and tarp tape where we had to have seams in the cover to allow the rigging and mast to pass through.  One of the strong gusts split the seam wide open, and was about ready to forcibly remove the tarp.  At that point, Kristen and I made the call to just cut it down before it did any damage, as the windstorm was supposed to last for another two days.

15 minutes with a utility knife and a full day's work from putting up the cover was undone.  The good thing is the windstorms don't really affect us much anymore.  The bad thing is we lost the still air inside the poly tarp which helped us retain heat a bit.  With the temperatures dropping again, Kyrie tends to do fine until temperatures hit around 25 as we are trying to solely use electric for our heat.  After it gets below 25 the three little electric heaters can't keep up, and we have to use the main boat heater - a Webasto hot water system.  With all three electric heaters running on low we don't blow electric breakers, and with the Webasto we are comfortable inside until temps get into the single digits.

We are fortunate that Kyrie is fully insulated, although not quite enough for Alaskan winters.   We are all anxiously awaiting the time we can pull her away from the dock again - hopefully sometime in March!

Friday, January 20, 2017

One year already?!

     I haven't written anything on this poor neglected blog in months, but today is a very appropriate day to pick it back up again. Much to my amazement, we have been living in our floating home for exactly one year today. How is that possible? I look back at the past year and can't believe everything that has happened.
     We left Juneau and picked Kyrie up at Point Roberts, moved in and moved her to Blaine, Washington. Joe worked in Bellingham and we tried to figure out where exactly we would be longer-term. We had a fantastic time cruising around the area before finally making the decision to take Kyrie north and back home.
      Kyrie has so far been a great home and we're slowly learning how to be a boat family. This winter has been a little rough, especially when a crazy windstorm hit and forced us to cut down that tarp Joe and I worked so hard to put up! Nevertheless, kids and parents alike are doing well and are waitng anxiously for warmer weather so we can put the sails back on, fire the motor up and go explore some more of Southeast Alaska in our floating home!