Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What's your reason?

     I get a lot of e-mails. That's my own fault because I keep signing up for e-mail lists, usually having to do with homeschooling. One in particular stood out to me tonight. It was from Jennifer Dukes Lee--her "Top Ten with Jen" e-mail. In it was a link to a subscribers' freebie page, full of quotes and stickers. This one shouted to me and I decided to share.

     There really are. Sometimes I have to remind myself of those reasons and other times they leap out at me. My family makes me happy. My boat makes me happy. Most of the time, my life makes me happy.

 It isn't, of course, always a bed of roses. I get upset, frustrated, sad, anxious, you name it, just like everyone else at times. But you know what? Thankfully, those times are not the norm. I hope I can keep my reasons to be happy foremost in my thoughts, especially as we have entered the holiday season. What about you? What beautiful reasons do you have to be happy?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

"Slow down and enjoy life"

     I'm way overdue for a new post on here, so I had to share a quote I found. Quick background: I've been reading a Stephen King book, which I don't think I have ever done before, not being a huge horror fan. However, a "mamas' writing club" I'm part of is reading his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I have to admit that I am thoroughly enjoying it. His insights into writing make me nod vigorously, sigh with envy, and then snort with laughter while my kids stare at me, wondering what in the world I'm reading.
      While I have underlined a large amount of passages in the book, one quote stood out to me because it applied to more than just writing. I've been searching through the book to find the context for the quote without any luck, so I'll just say it spoke to me enough to write it down in my little journal of "interesting quotes and passages."
       Eddie Cantor said, "Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast--you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."
       I wish I could find the background behind this quote. Was it a conversation he had with someone? Was it an interview with a newspaper? I have no idea, but I very much appreciate this sentiment. It reminds me of one of the best and most frustrating aspects of sailing. Let's face it. Sailing is a slow way to get anywhere. The fastest we have traveled on Kyrie was 12 knots, and that was slightly scary (we were surfing waves and had too much sail up for the amount of wind). For any other form of travel, 12 knots would sound very slow, but from Kyrie's back deck, the world seemed to scream by as I struggled to furl the genoa.
      6-8 knots, however, is a very comfortable speed for Kyrie. That rate allows her crew to take in the world around as we travel. I can see the exact route we are following and have time to take in and process the sights I see before they are out of sight. I retain that "sense of where [I am] going and why."
      I still don't know who all reads this blog. I know some of my family and friends do, and I certainly realize not everyone who does is a sailor, or even a person who enjoys time out on the water. However, I hope this speaks to you as it did to me.
      Take some time this week to slow down. Make a point to look at and appreciate the world around you. Whatever goal you are reaching for today, be sure you know where you are in life. At the risk of sounding trite, you can't be sure of achieving your goal if you're going so fast that you don't know where you are right now. Take some time to enjoy the scenery.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Celebrating a birthday girl!

Today we celebrate our big girl's birthday. Rachael is 8 years old today! How did that happen? Rachael, you have been such a sweet, curious girl since the day you were born and discovered your fingers! 
You love nature and the world around you. The wind in your hair always makes you smile.                                                                                      

Even though I know they drive you crazy sometimes, you are a wonderful big sister to little miss Megan and little sister to Levi.

My princess Rachael, you get more beautiful, inside and out, as time goes by. I cannot wait to see what life has in store for you. Mama and Daddy love you to bits!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dodging icebergs. spying on mountain goats and the end of the trip

     The Russell Island anchorage was a lovely night. When the tide dropped, we were able to see just how protected we were. Land blocked nearly the whole passage between Russell Island and the little island we were next to, so it was nice and calm, if a bit creepy being within 50 feet of land on three sides at low tide! It was calm and quiet, allowing for another night of good sleep.
     Next morning, Joe and I studied the chart. Our permit was more than halfway done and we needed to start planning on an exit strategy. We still hadn't taken Kyrie to a tidewater glacier and that was high on the list. A decision had to be made. We could follow the cruise ships and go into Tarr Inlet to see the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. We could head up toward Johns Hopkins Inlet to see Lamplugh Glacier and then hope the inlet wasn't so ice-choked that we couldn't at least get part way in to see some of the other glaciers. Looking at the distances and knowing there weren't any good anchorages up either inlet, the closer inlet won out. Tarr Inlet it would be.
     I made apricot-date muffins while Joe motored us up through the Russell Island Passage and into Tarr Inlet. The Ruby Princess was already in, approaching the Margerie, and the Nieuw Amsterdam was approaching the inlet. Binoculars came out and it was time to play "Dodge the bergs." It wasn't too bad, although it looked like it could be! There were mostly a lot of little bergs, but by staying on the east side of the inlet, near the beach, we were able to avoid the majority of the obstacles, including cruise ships! There was a lot of idling the engine and coasting through some of the thicker fields. There was a bit of a contest with the kids to see what shapes we could make out in the ice, such as a moose, a sombrero, a helicopter, and a penguin! At last, we settled on turning off the engine about a mile away from the Margerie Glacier. It would have been lovely to get even closer, but peering through the binoculars showed a pretty thick field of big-looking bergs--not a good idea to take a fiberglass boat through that. So, we contented ourselves with where we were.
     Margerie Glacier is touted as a postcard glacier and, even at that distance and on a cloudy day, I could see why. It has the jagged face that comes right down to the water, about half a mile wide. As we sat bundled up on the bow, we heard a crack and a rumble. Unfortunately, if the glacier did calve then, we weren't able to see the splash. It was still a beautiful sight to see. The Grand Pacific Glacier is a different story. Two miles wide at its face, it is difficult to tell you're looking at a glacier because of how much rock it has gathered up over the years. Some ice still shows through the "grime," though, reminding viewers that this was the main glacier to have carved out Glacier Bay nearly three hundred years ago. At 35 miles long, it has its start in Canada, and looking at it, it's hard to believe you're viewing the remains of a river of ice that used to extend all the way out into Icy Strait.
     With the tides in mind, we only stopped in Tarr Inlet for about an hour before turning around and negotiating our way out. We briefly considered going to check out Lamplugh, but through the binoculars, it looked pretty berg-y. Deciding we would have had our fill of dodging bergs after getting out of Tarr, Joe and I agreed to thread our way back into the Russell Island Passage through considerably more bitty bergs than we dealt with on our way in, and make our way back to Geikie Inlet. The description in Exploring Southeast Alaska sounded lovely.
     We at last motored into Shag Cove around 4:30. Right away, we could tell it would be a nice place to anchor. Marble Mountain rises straight up between the cove and the outside waters of the bay. An island blocks most of the entrance, making Shag Cove a nearly-landlocked anchorage. It took us about half an hour to get to the head of the cove and finally anchor in about 75 feet of water. We were there at high tide and it looked to be a steep beach. It also looked like a good place for bears to come out of the woods, so we decided not to go to the beach. Joe did, however, spot mountain goats on the cliff of Marble Mountain. The kids all got the chance to marvel through the binoculars at the sure-footed creatures.
     This morning, a wolf appeared on the beach, much to our delight. While Levi, Rachael and I watched, the wolf ran through the creek and came up with a fish in its mouth--not something I've thought about wolves doing. It soon disappeared back into the woods and it was time to get going again.
     Our destination wasn't far--the South Arm of Fingers Bay is only about an hour and a half away as Kyrie cruises. Now, at 2:00, we've been anchored in the Southeast Bight for close to an hour. The wind, which was supposed to be only about 10 knots, is kicking up again to 15-20. We're tucked up pretty close to the beach this time, but hopefully we won't see winds like a few days ago! We need to leave the park tomorrow and I don't want to get stuck again!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A bad night.... and a better day

     Oh my goodness. Talk about a study in contrasts. Yesterday was nasty, so we decided to call it a harbor day and just stay put in Blue Mouse Cove. When I say nasty, I mean nasty. Winds were blowing 20 knots, I could see whitecaps out in the bay and waves crashing at the entrance to the cove, and there was a 2-foot chop inside the cove itself. It was a day to stay cozy inside, watching movies, playing games and baking bread.
     Another boat showed up in the anchorage about noon. We talked with them on the radio and they said they had seen 5 to 6-foot seas out in the bay proper, further proving we had made the right decision to stay put. Joe put some more rode out, just to be on the safe side, since the weather report his parents e-mailed to us called for 35-knot gusts that night.
     I was hoping for a better night's sleep since the previous night wasn't a good one--Ha! Thanks to the wind--steady 20-25 knots with gusts upwards of 35-40 knots, I had a hard time sleeping again. I kept hearing the boat pulling back on the anchor line and the rope str-e-e-etching out. Suddenly, the sound I had been waiting for and dreading came. Kyrie pulled back in a gust, the rode stretched out with a long, drawn-out CR-REEAA-CK, and then BANG! I sat straight up with a gasp that barely escaped being some sort of swear and grabbed my glasses. Joe sat up too, saying, "Well, something let go," and scrambled out of bed ahead of me.
     As we both crammed our feet in boots in the cockpit, I found myself trembling with my teeth chattering. I wasn't cold--I was scared. All I could think was, "Oh God, did our anchor rode break and now we're floating free in this?" I followed Joe out into the pitch black howling night to check the anchor. It was still firmly attached and we were pulled back just as much as before. After watching for a few minutes to make sure that was still the case, Joe said we could go back to the cockpit.
     Once back, he could tell something was wrong. "Are you okay?" he asked me. "No," I replied. "I'm not." I told him that was one of the first times I could remember being truly terrified. After walking me through what had happened--the prussick knot he used to fasten to the anchor rode had slipped on the wet rope because he had used two wraps when he ought to have used three--and then reminding me how much force the anchor chain and rode could handle before they broke, I found myself calming down. We went back to bed and, happily, the wind died down after another hour. Sleep at last!
     Upon awakening, the seas had died down and the wind was almost nonexistent. It was time to haul the anchor up and move on! The anchor had dug itself deep into the sticky blue clay bottom, but came up fairly easily since Joe gave it some time to work itself loose. Onward at last! Reid Inlet was about two hours away and Don Douglass' book Exploring Southeast Alaska said it was a great glacier to explore.
     After threading our way through the bitsy bergs, we dropped the hook in about 50 feet of super silty water and piled into the dinghy. That was a fun hike! Reid Glacier is not a tidewater glacier, ending about 1000 yards from the water. Therefore, we were able to scramble over rocks, splash through creeks and squish our way across good old glacial flour to the the face, although not completely unscathed. Megan decided to run through a patch of silt and fell flat on her face, covering herself in blue silty mud right at the beginning. I rediscovered the hole in my boot while crossing one of the creeks and ended up with a boot full of water. Regardless, we had a fantastic time and the hike was just what we needed to get the cabin crazies out.
     We are now anchored almost directly across the bay from Reid Inlet in what is known as Russell Island Passage, right up against Russell Island. It looks like we should be pretty well protected for the night, so I'm hoping for a good night's sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we hope to go see one of the tidewater glaciers. Kyrie among the icebergs!

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Harbor Day

Are we glad we chose to stay put.

Last night, the weather chose to get with it a bit--interrupting our plans to head up to Reid Inlet to hike to the glacier. About 2am the wind decided to start blowing, a pretty steady 15 with the wind increasing throughout the night up to a steady 20 gusting 30 as I type this. Talking to other boaters who just ran into this bay for cover, it sounds like it is 5-6 footers out in the bay right now, further cementing the reasonableness of our decision to just call it a harbor day and hope for better weather tomorrow. The forecast we do have is calling for the wind to increase overnight so we need to be in a well sheltered harbor right now for comfort as well as safety. The upper bay doesn't have that many good anchorages that are ice free that are well protected from a strong southerly in our opinion. Oh well.

So, today we took our time, made some sourdough pancakes for breakfast, then made a fresh loaf of bread (its baking right now - yum!) and watched a couple of movies with the kids..

The movies of the day so far have been "The Princess Diaries" and "Captain Ron". Both were a lot of fun. Now to break out some games and see how we can while away the bad weather.

Still anchored in Blue Mouse Cove! Here's hoping we can move on tomorrow!

-The Kyrie Crew

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Stuck in the Muck - Glacier Bay Day 1 & 2

Day 1 in Glacier Bay was lovely. After attending the mandatory boater orientation at 8am, we had a quick breakfast and went ashore to briefly check out Bartlett Cove as a family. Frankly, there wasn't that much going on, and we were anxious to get up in the bay, and catch as much of the tide as we could. We pulled out of Bartlett in pea-soup fog at 10am, bound for parts unexplored. Shortly, we were in the Sitakaday Narrows, running with a pretty extreme tide. Kyrie measured a speed over ground through this stretch of 12.6 knots. Not bad in a 6 knot boat! However, that was in the fog, so we were running on the AIS and radar. Thankfully there was zero opposed traffic so we had the place to ourselves.

As we passed Willoughby Island, the fog began to lift, exposing some blue sky peeking through. We decided to motor over to the protected area of South Marble Island to see just why it was protected. We saw hundreds of sea lions, and nesting seabirds were just covering the cliffs of the island. We identified Seagulls, Oystercatchers, Puffins, and Cormorants, along with a few we didn't recognize. It was a wonderful introduction to the bay.

As we motored on (there was zero wind, but it was sure pretty!) we decided to not be on the move too long our first day as we had pushed for 12 hours the previous day. We decided to head up into Shag Cove off Geikie Inlet, hoping for an isolated spot to call it home. Unfortunately, as we pulled around the point, it became obvious we would be in the dark all afternoon and into the evening, as the clouds and the high mountain peaks were fully shading the whole area--not quite what we were looking for in an anchorage.

With our hopes dashed a bit, we decided to push on an extra hour and a half up to Blue Mouse Cove. This is noted as one of the best, most popular anchorages in the entire park, so we anticipated sharing it. Lo and behold, we turned the corner to find it completely empty! We happily motored around a bit trying to figure out where we would like to set up shop for the night, and dropped the anchor. We had dinner and took the kids to the beach for a bit. Frankly, the beach was nothing special, but the scenery was beyond spectacular. After about an hour we headed back to Kyrie for the night as we were all pretty beat.

We awoke to partly cloudy conditions after thoroughly enjoying the still calm conditions all night and decided to stay put for the day. After a batch of peach oatmeal, we loaded up the dinghy with all of us and the two kayaks in tow to go explore the "motor restricted" area of Hugh Miller Inlet. This required a short portage of the dinghy and kayaks over a 300' wide stretch of land, along with dismounting the motor from the dinghy and leaving it behind on the beach to comply with the regulations.

We had no idea how hard this would be. It turned out the little portage we had set up for ourselves was through one of the nastiest chunks of mud any of us have ever experienced. The kids did OK, generally not going deeper than their ankles, but for the adults it was a different story. Both Kristen and I sunk to our knees at least a couple times and Kristen actually got stuck and fell over.

Undaunted, but pretty tired and filthy from that nasty slog, we boarded our human powered rigs and proceeded to explore the area a bit. We were able to see sea otters playing in kelp, a whale off in the distance, sea lions, and tons of birds. The real hit was a trio of loons that seemed to follow us around the island we landed on. Their calls were haunting.

After taking a break and hiking all over the island, we decided it was time to head home as our mud pit was now covered with water!! We rowed back, not aware that there would be a pretty good current against us (2 knots in a few spots!) After struggling, we made it back to the beach with our motor on it, hooked it back up, and motored the mile back to Kyrie. Thoroughly tired and a bit cold, we headed in, Megan took a nap, and the 4 of us made popcorn and watched the first episode of a new-to-us series called "Legend." (Richard Dean Anderson and John deLancie)  It was a lot of fun, and a good way to unwind.

Then, it was time for dinner. Kristen made an awesome cabbage salad and Pork Ragu for dinner. We are now cleaning up and preparing for family game night.... If the kids get the dishes done in time!

Until next time!

-The Kyrie Crew

Friday, August 10, 2018

Dreaming Glacier Bay

I have to say I stole the post title from a wonderful play we saw last winter at Perseverance Theater in Juneau.  It fits though, as that is what we are doing at the moment.  Last night (Thursday) we left the harbor and ran 5 hours to anchor overnight behind Horse and Colt Islands.  Today is the big push - sending us up into Glacier Bay!

We pulled the anchor about 7:30 this morning, and rounded Point Retreat about 10am.  Then the weather got a touch uncomfortable.  15-18 knots of wind on our nose, 1 1/2 knots of current against us, and a sea built from the wind the night before made the trip down Lynn Canal less than pleasant.  We were able to push through, and headed into Icy Strait with very little wind and calm seas, and current behind us for a change!

We are pushing on to anchor in Bartlett Cove tonight to attend the mandatory skippers' orientation tomorrow morning at 8am. Then, at last, we get to head up into the park proper.  We will have a full week to explore the wonders of the bay and hopefully even catch a dinner or two - wish us luck!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Lovely lazy days

     There are some days that are just filled with being busy. Then there are days like this weekend. It's Monday now and still nice, but this weekend was just amazing.
      The sailing club held a buoy race Saturday and, as usual, Kyrie was committee boat. A different course was chosen this time, which meant we didn’t have to anchor in 100+ feet of water near a cable, creating a short starting line for the racers! Joe invited a neighbor of ours here in Douglas to come along and they got to crew on one of the boats for the race. That left me and the kids on board Kyrie to watch the race and make sure we recorded everyone’s finish times. The crews all seemed happy with their performances, from what I could see! Joe said they had a great time on Shoreless, scooting along and even burying the toerail at one point. He said his shoes got wet!
      That evening we joined a bunch of friends for a Brazil-inspired dinner. Friends of ours are creating a meal from a different country each month and this month was Brazil. We got to try Caipirinhas, which are considered Brazil's national cocktail--delicious!--and Romeu e Julieta, which is an appetizer of cheese (my friend used queso fresco in this case) and a Brazilian guava paste called goiabada, which is simply guava, sugar and water. It's surprisingly good--sweet and salty. Think of proscuitto-wrapped dates or cantaloupe and you get the idea.
      Sunday dawned clear and warm, so after answering a call for help from Joe's parents, we took Kyrie out again. We thought we would try fishing, so we headed down the channel toward Sheep Creek. No luck, but the wind was perfect for a spinnaker run toward the bridge. The wind actually grew lighter as we neared the bridge, so Joe asked me to dig the radial head drifter out of the bow locker so we could give it a try for the first time. Oh my goodness, that thing is gigantic and heavy! But, it was amazing to hoist it and sail. There was about 4-5 knots of wind and Kyrie was moving at about 3-3.5 knots! Look at that giant sail! Isn't it beautiful? I'm not sure it had seen much use--it was still crinkly when we hoisted it. Joe and Rachael sat on the bow while we sailed under the bridge and I watched the drifter deflate, and then, in a moment of perfect hilarious timing, inflate as the two of them blew up toward the sail. 
      Barbecued chicken and curried couscous with veggies finished the weekend off, along with a paddle in the kayak around the harbor. It was hard to say good night to such a beautiful weekend, but the sun gave a good show before it sank from our sight. All in all, I'd say we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly the past couple of days. Levi is off to camp this week, so it will be just me and the girls during the day, and it's supposed to be nice nearly all week. Days like these make me absolutely in love with our life!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Anyone want to see vacation photos?

     I attempted to go through our vacation photos so I could put some in a post to share. Then I ran into a problem. There were too many photos of our awesome trip! I had taken some videos as well, and those are rather difficult, if not impossible, to upload to this particular blog. So instead, I made a link to them. Vacation photos and videos! Enjoy.
     Project complete. I can now return to my regularly scheduled program, which, this time of year, is getting ready for the next school year. Rachael gets back from her first Colt Camp session at Echo Ranch tomorrow, so hopefully I will have some stories from her to share.

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.

Not so peril-ous and the next stage of the trip

By 7:30 Wednesday morning, the motor was running, the anchor was weighed and cleaned of super silty mud and Kyrie was underway again, with an entourage of pleasure trawlers who quickly passed us by, headed the same direction. As the strait narrowed, Joe set the hammock up on the bow again and the kids vied for turns. I sat up on the bow with the camera--hopefully my photos turned out and they will get on here.
I could see why Joe was concerned about the currents. It is very narrow through Sergius itself. In fact, there are two big red buoys that often are sucked underwater by 10-knot currents during the ebb and flow. Thankfully, we only saw 1 knot of current against us. I have to admit, I'd like to be somewhere safe and witness those buoys being sucked down by the current some time... All in all, it was a lovely and uneventful trip through Peril Strait.
A quick pass through a corner of Salisbury Sound and on to Neva Strait. The wind let us actually sail for a little while, although we only were going about 2.5 knots. However, that was perfect for dragging a fishing line behind us. No luck there either though, and then the wind died, naturally... There were a lot of fishing boats working and we wanted to be sure to stay out of their way. Neva Strait is pretty narrow and there were a fair of number of boats coming out of Sitka. Instead of going through Olga Strait as we had upon leaving Sitka last year, we turned toward Krestof Sound to check it out. It is completely bordered by a bunch of small islands, so it's a sheltered area with lots of nooks and crannies. We came back later to explore, so I won't say much about it here, except to say it was definitely worth coming back to! :)
As we neared Sitka Sound, the fog settled in, which made for an interesting run into Sitka itself. Unlike our last visit, it wasn't super windy and choppy even inside the breakwater, so there wasn't a need to find a spot at the dock. Instead, we found a clear spot and dropped the anchor. After a dinghy ride to the dock and a walk to the grocery store, it was time for dinner and a movie--Levi had just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, so Joe and I decided the theatrical version was in order.
Tomorrow would be a busy day with family arriving at the airport.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Another adventure begins!

     Our 2018 vacation is off to a great start. Kyrie and her crew left Douglas Harbor about 4:00 Friday afternoon to head down to Taku Harbor for the night. Unlike Memorial Day weekend, the weather was pretty decent and there were a fair number of boats with kids at the dock when we arrived. Consequently, the kiddos stayed up way too late playing outside, but we knew they wouldn't get much time to play with other kids for a while. I think we finally made them all go to bed around 10:30.
Our crab pots were full of huge sun stars!
Next morning was pretty nice. Breakfast was scrambled eggs and a cutthroat trout Joe caught the evening before. Then of course the kids had to go out and play with their friends again. Joe brought back the crab pots we set on our way to the dock, but all they held were big sun stars and snails. No dinner, but a huge source of fun for the girls. Rachael and Megan, along with two other girls about their age, sat on the dock and poked at an upside-down sun star, watching its little tentacles move around as it tried to figure out where it was. They also sat around the pile of huge snails, squealing whenever one grew brave enough to venture out of its shell.
Joe is holding one of the giant
snails we caught in the crab pot.
Escargot, anyone? 
     Eventually, it was time to let the sea creatures go back home and get ready to move on. Two other boats from the sailing club were all that had signed up for the Admiralty Island Rally this year and we planned on joining for part of the trip. There wasn't much wind when Kyrie stuck her nose out of Taku Harbor and we only saw one sail, so Joe and I decided to rig up the fishing poles and troll down to Limestone Inlet for a while.
     Limestone Inlet is lovely--I wouldn't mind going back there some time when it's just the two of us. Usually we go to Taku Harbor because it's easy to get to and is just a fun place to hang out as a family. However, if we happen to get a kid-free weekend and want to get out to be by ourselves, I think Limestone might fit the bill nicely. It's a narrow inlet with hardly any wave action on the shore, and there are mooring buoys to grab in the middle. We ended up eating lunch and trying to fish, but no luck.
Onward down Stephens Passage! Past Port Snettisham, I noticed a whale watch boat hanging out around the Midway Islands. We decided we would slow down when we got down there to see what they were checking out. It proved to be a sea lion haulout. Sea lions covered a rock pile on the west side of the islands and you could hear them snorting and growling at each other. Rachael kept yelling, "Noisy!" at them and laughed when I said I thought they sounded like pigs. :)
     From there, it wasn't much farther to our planned anchorage for the night. We motored past Rainier, a NOAA research vessel, and anchored in about 40 feet of water in the little bay between Wood Spit and Point Astley. About an hour later, the other two boats, A Little Romance and Thalia, showed up. It was a little different being the big boat and having them both raft up to us! Quiet night, but the gnats were out in force so none of us wanted to be outside very long.
     Next morning was foggy! No wind to speak of at first, so the three skippers made the decision to cross Stephens Passage to Point Hugh, the tip of the Glass Peninsula on Admiralty Island. We started sailing about 10:00 and managed to sail for four hours before the wind died and the current picked up. Once our speed dropped below 2 knots, it stopped being fun! Sails were furled, the motor fired up and away we went. It quickly became fun again because two porpoises came along and frolicked in our bow wake for a while. Then sea lions and sea otters popped up and swam around us.

The maritime animal show really began when Joe caught sight of some big splashes around Point Pybus. We were still three miles away, but it became obvious quickly there was a whale at play. It put on quite a display for us! I can't remember the last time I got to see a whale breach that much. It would rise about 3/4 of its body length out of the water and come crashing back down. Then it might roll on its side, and wave its giant flipper up and down a few times. Suddenly, it would show us its tail flukes as it dove down deep, leaving us to watch and wait breathlessly for it to leap out of the water again. This spectacle must have gone on for a good hour as we approached and eventually passed it by! I think Joe managed to get a couple photos of our cetacean friend in action.
Not long after, Kyrie turned the corner into Pybus Bay. I haven't been in that bay in six years--not since the last AIR we went on in 2012. I forgot how breathtakingly beautiful it is in there. I remember it being pretty, but I think by the time our slow little Shiva arrived, we were so tired and ready to be done for the night that we just didn't appreciate it enough. A Little Romance and Thalia were still out trying to sail, so we figured we had time to stop in the bay and try fishing. Joe caught the tiniest little Irish Lord I've ever seen--maybe only an inch-and-a-half long. How it managed to take the hook, I have no idea, but thankfully, Joe was able to shake it. I caught a little quillback rockfish, but it spit out the hook as it came to the surface. Thank goodness--we love to eat rockfish, but we would have needed four more that size to make a meal!
Cannery Cove was our destination last night and we gleefully lowered the property values as we entered it. Our neighbors already anchored included two megayachts that were over 100 feet long--one of them even had a helicopter on its upper rear deck. After anchoring up ourselves, we braved the bugs and went out for a dinghy ride, hoping to find a beach to turn the kids loose on. No such luck, but we had a ball cruising around Cannery Cove. The ride was during high tide and it was obvious there were some areas that would be high and dry during low tide. We could see Dungeness crabs skittering around on the bottom and little fish swimming all around. At last though, the growling of our stomachs announced it was time to head back to Kyrie and make dinner. Chicken thighs in mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and cabbage crunch salad--yummy!
The other two boats arrived as we finished eating, and like before, they rafted off to us. Neither boat sailed the whole way, but I think both crews had a good day.
No one was in a huge hurry to get moving this morning, but I think we finally cast everyone off and hauled the anchor at about 10:00. At almost 1:00 now, there is still almost no wind and I haven't seen any type of sail up. But, it's sunny, about 60 degrees and Frederick Sound looks like glass. Joe rigged a hammock up between the mast and the front stay and all three kids have spent some time in it. I think we all are thoroughly enjoying this beautiful day, but the fleet has a hot bath in mind. Baranof Warm Springs, here we come!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Readying for the season

     We have been so busy lately! I've been posting a lot of photos on Instagram, which I know show up on the blog, but I haven't sat myself down to write anything about it.
      Let's see about a recap of the past month.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Celebrating a birthday boy!

     I can't believe it, but our boy is 11 today! Therefore, I must embarrass him by posting photos from over the years. :) In all his glory, here is our first born! 

This boy broke us in as new parents and continues to keep us on our toes. Love you bunches, buddy bear!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thoughts from a boat mama

     Being a mom is hard. Don't get me wrong. I've been a mama for almost 11 years now and most days, I love it far more than I find it... complicated. (Side note: my first born is going to be 11 years old in a little more than a week!) But being a boat mama takes it to a whole new level sometimes...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Boat life is sometimes messy

     It seems like I have to eat my words every time I make mention of the weather, so I'm feeling a bit of trepidation even saying this. Is spring at last worming its way in and kicking our long-lasting winter out? For the sake of my skiing-loving kids, I hope the snow can hang on in the mountains a couple more weeks, but otherwise, I'm so over this cold! The docks are clear of snow, we're wearing shoes instead of boots, and watching the temperature reports to decide when we can take Kyrie's winter cover off.
     A few not-so-fun things to deal with these past few days. No surprise, we have a dehumidifier on board to dry out all the moisture that develops from a marine, temperate rain forest environment and five people living in such a small space. The first one lasted a little less than a year and then stopped sucking up moisture. Unfortunately, we didn't buy any sort of warranty with that one. We learned our lesson and when Joe bought the new one, he made sure to buy Home Depot's extended warranty. Money well spent as the second dehumidifier lasted about 13 months. Early last week, we realized the reservoir wasn't filling up at the normal pace and on Wednesday, it didn't have any water in it at all. However, the humidity level inside Kyrie was noticeable. Yuck! So, it was off to Home Depot for a new one. Thankfully, the warranty was accepted and we walked out with a brand-new dehumidifier that is actually quieter than the old one. Hooray!
     Next fun event happened Friday night. Backtrack a bit. A little over a year ago, Joe and I made the decision to replace our old Lavac toilet with a composting one, to avoid living in constant fear of one of the kids clogging the toilet in the middle of the night, among other reasons, of course! After a bunch of research, Joe decided the C-Head composting toilet system would serve our family of five the best. After a bit of a learning curve (those things are a bit tricky to figure out for us girls), I have to say I'm very happy with that toilet. Keep a stash of gallon milk jugs for the urine, and wood shavings from our local pet supply store for the bucket and we're in business. One thing our big girl discovered Friday night though--you have to make absolutely certain the jug is placed properly, or else the funnel squishes the opening, instead of threading inside, making a mess whenever someone tries to use the toilet! I discovered a few things I really appreciate about the C-Head that night. A) Everything stayed pretty well contained, instead of going all over the floor. B) The different pieces can be removed for ease of cleaning. C) Once the jug and bucket were out, the rest of the system came unlatched from the floor easily and Joe and I could lift it and dump it out with no difficulty. The verdict: Easy to clean, but I would be extremely happy to never have to do that again! Of course, it could have been much worse.... No brown navy awards for us, thank you very much!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ski bums and cruising videos?

     The latest bit is that the kiddos got to finally go skiing! First day and both of them were up on the bigger runs off the Ptarmigan chairlift. Rachael informed me that next time, she really needs to have poles so her instructor doesn't have to tow her across the flat sections! They both have been looking forward to skiing all winter and this winter has just been a weird one.
     In fact, I don't know if it's been helpful or not that we've been watching YouTube channels of others already out cruising. It helps seeing what we're in for, both good and bad, but it sure is giving us a wicked case of cabin fever. But, as a little shout-out, we've been enjoying watching Sailing Uma, Sailing Catalpa, and Gone With the Wynns, especially. Joe and I watch your adventures, sigh, and say, "That will be us in just a year-and-a-half!" Thanks for all the hard work you put in to your videos so the rest of us can enjoy watching.
      I also wanted to put it out there that Cruising Kyrie now a presence on Facebook. That page should get some updates and photos a little more often, so check us out there also. I may regret doing that, but hey, we'll see what happens!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Winter just won't quit!

     It is March, isn't it? What with the east coast getting blasted by winter storms and the National Weather Service issuing a warning of 5-10 inches of snow for the Juneau area, it's obvious Old Man Winter isn't done yet. I seem to remember us getting dumped on last year around this time too! The big kids are happy though, because our local ski slopes have finally sent out word that the homeschool kids can sign up for lessons, so even though it's a much shorter session than it's supposed to be, my little ski bums can finally get back up on the mountain. They start on Friday and I'm bracing myself for absolutely nothing in the way of school work being done that day. That's okay though. I'm excited for them and I doubt I'll have the heart to try to get them to work. It will probably be one of the few times Levi may be up and out of bed before me!
     We made our plans for the summer--weekend trips with the sailing club, a couple of cruising vacations for us--and now I'm feeling really antsy! In about a month, it should have warmed up enough that we can remove Kyrie's winter cover and then head back to our usual berth in Douglas. We need to get back and claim our spot because I've already heard of several people asking if our spot is available. That end tie is apparently a hot commodity!
     I don't have any photos yet, but Joe and Levi worked last weekend on an update to Kyrie that has been a long time coming. Somehow, we have managed for two years with five of us using Kyrie's tiny little table. The project in the works is a new table that will be the full length of the seats. As much as we love the wood, with three kids using the table eating, doing school work, and everything else, this table will be covered with white Formica--easy to clean, just like the new vinyl seat covers. As soon as it's done and installed, I'll show it off with another picture or two.
     You know, looking at that photo, I can see we didn't get the new covers as tight as would be preferred, but considering that was the first time Joe and I had ever made covers like those, I'm still pretty pleased with the job!
     There is always something new to do to make Kyrie just right for us. For instance, Joe put a guard over the fan in our dish cupboard to keep fingers from getting chewed up anymore! It hurt when the fan bit my finger, but I sure am glad it was me, and not one of the kids...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You know you live on a boat when....

... you know your husband is home from work because the boat tips slightly as he steps aboard.
... you don't buy gallons of milk because they just don't fit in the fridge.
... your kids consider it normal to put backpacks on over life jackets before a walk to the car.
... lifting up a mattress and drying underneath is a regular chore.
... it's completely understandable to have to remake your bed after putting groceries away in the fridge or a pantry.