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.

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