Friday, June 21, 2019

Taking it as it comes

     We'll be in Ketchikan today! Talk about some more lessons in flexibility and not having firmly laid plans.
Levi, Megan, and Joe on our way from
Kyrie to the dock in Coffman Cove.
Rachael and Mouse--the
Coffman Cove greenhouse cat.
After leaving Exchange Cove over a week ago, we traveled first to Coffman Cove, and then toThorne Bay. Thorne Bay was a cute community and at first we thought we would stay there two nights before moving on. However, a weather report informed us that Clarence Strait was going to kick up to a 20-knot south wind, seas four feet or so, on the day we planned to leave. No thank you! Instead, we made a grocery list, hit the store and fuel dock the next morning, and got out, beelining south for Behm Canal and safety in Naha Bay. It was pretty calm until the Tongass Narrows were in sight, so we did some laundry and Joe fixed the switch for the anchor windlass.
Laundry hanging from the sheets!
We are officially cruisers!
That promised 20-knots were starting to kick up as we crossed into Behm Canal, so both crews were rather glad we left when we did!
        Naha Bay has a public float near the top of it and that was our goal. Thankfully, there was only one other boat when we arrived--another cruising sailboat!--so both Kyrie and Pacific Wonder were able to tie to the dock. Nice spot to stay for a couple of days! The weather was soggy, so it was nice to have a spot for the kids to get out. We tried hiking around Roosevelt Lagoon, but discovered bees had built their nest right under the boardwalk! Rachael and Megan both got stung once, each on the hand, and I got stung on both the neck and the leg! No surprise we turned around at that point.
        However, since it was slack water when we got back, Joe and I took Bumblebee (the dinghy) up through the rapids and into the lagoon to explore what we couldn't get to before. It was beautiful back there and we even saw a seal! The next day, we took the dinghy over to the little community of Loring. There used to be a salmon cannery and now all that's left is a community of about eight houses connected by boardwalks.
         Two days in Naha was enough and it was time to move on. Next destination was Yes Bay, which would set us up nicely to reach the top of Behm Canal and officially enter Misty Fjords. After an extremely soggy night--the roar of raindrops on the roof was almost deafening at times!--we prepared to move on. Halfway to the top of the canal, we were passed by two powerboats. About an hour later, we saw them turn around and come back our direction. After hailing them on the radio, our travel partners on Pacific Wonder got the story--25-30 knots coming up from the south and three-foot seas, and they were still in protected waters. That we could have dealt with, but our planned anchorage was open to the south, which we would have been slammed all night. No sirree! We had no problem turning tail and running away from that.
       This time, we aimed for Marguerite Bay, in Traitor's Cove, which, ironically, was just a little south of Yes Bay, where we spent the night. *sigh* That's the way it goes sometimes, right? However, whatever we missed out on by not continuing, I think we had it more than made up to us. Marguerite Bay has a public dock and there was no one there, so we happily tied up to it, after, of course, brushing a rock that doesn't appear anywhere on the charts! Kari said we should call it Kyrie's Pedestal! Another boat showed up later with a girl Rachael's age, so our girls were happy. That dock was covered in ponies and chalk racecourses and corrals filled with grass!
        The next day was absolutely gorgeous! We had enough solar to refill our water tank, charge every gadget we had, and still have full batteries before noon! We also packed our backpacks and, along with our new friends on F/V Sunset, we took a hike. It was a lot of fun and we all came back tuckered out.
          Now here it is, Friday afternoon--Summer Solstice--and we're headed into Ketchikan. We had to stop along the way through Clover Passage because there were probably nine orcas playing in the passage! Joe put Kyrie in neutral and we floated along to watch them play. One passed so close to our bow that Joe and Rachael both got sprayed! Rather a nice little stop.
          We plan to anchor at the northern end of Pennock Island, somewhat across from Thomas Basin, and then take Bumblebee to the dock so we can do our errands. There is still a mound of laundry to do, as well as grocery shopping! We'll be around Ketchikan for at least a few days--maybe go swimming and to the museum. On the 27th is a Coast Guard Change of Command for Joe's former supervisor, and we've been invited to attend. Shortly after that, we'll be leaving Alaska, most likely for a very long time!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Forced Slowdown

For those who knew our rough plans when we left Juneau, you are likely surprised we are already as far south as we are. Currently, we're anchored in Exchange Cove on the northern end of Clarence Strait -- considerably further south than we intended to be this early. We should explain a bit.

Our little breakdown necessitated a trip to town (Petersburg in this case) for parts. We were able to quickly resolve the problem as thankfully the cables we needed were in stock at Rocky's Marine. When we arrived in Petersburg, we were also able to connect with the crew of S/V Pacific Wonder who we had hoped to buddy-boat down to Washington with. We had initially feared we would miss this connection with our more northerly planned route, but with us dropping down south earlier, we were able to reconnect -- and the trip is back on!

We rushed to get done with laundry in Petersburg and filled the water tanks and were on our way the next morning. Since then, we've been slowly picking our way south as the weather allows -- aiming for 15-25 mile days for easy travel and plenty of time to relax, go to the beach, or fish. Fishing has been moderately productive so far, with two fresh Halibut dinners on Kyrie!

But, the weather being the fickle mistress she is, we have been waylaid for the time being in a nice little storm hole here on Prince of Wales Island. It has been blowing 20-25 knots steady south in Clarence, with gusts around 30-35, making for miserable conditions to head south with the seas on our nose. As both crews are in no hurry to go anywhere, we have chosen to just stay put until roughly Wednesday until the forecast is slated to improve. We should likely make Ketchikan by this weekend, reprovision, and then head out again, either to the coast or to do the wonderful Misty Fijords with Pacific Wonder.

We still intend to leave Alaska for BC roughly the first of July--here's hoping for a little better weather.

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Boat Repair in Exotic Location?

I love humorous definitions of common things. For instance "Hammer: A tool used as a type of divining rod to locate the most expensive part directly adjacent to whatever you are actually trying to hit."

We've always heard that cruising is defined as "boat repair in exotic locations" and while we wouldn't consider Petersburg exactly exotic, it fits here.

Kyrie and her crew had run from Taku Harbor down to Gambier Bay Wednesday with the intent of spending a couple days fishing and exploring the bay before pushing on to Baranof Warm Springs. As we dropped the anchor, we put the boat in reverse to firmly set it, and the engine would not throttle up. Crud.. After 10 minutes diagnosing the issue, the problem was obvious--our throttle cable had gone on to greener kelp beds. We were safe for the night though, and so enjoyed a lovely evening and night's sleep, figuring we would decide our next course of action in the morning.

Thursday morning greeted us with bright sun and two deer on the beach. The temptation to stay and explore was very high, but as we were unable to get a current weather forecast and it was Thursday with the parts stores shutting down for the weekend, we thought it was more prudent to get to the nearest town for needed parts.

Joe jury-rigged the engine, using a cord as a throttle, and pulled anchor--headed to the bustling metropolis known as Petersburg.

We had a lovely motor in glassy seas across Frederick Sound, with a brief stop to play with the drone around Five Fingers Light (video to come!), and the wind filled in just past Cape Fanshaw quite nicely. We then raised the spinnaker, and were able to sail for the 7 hours, nearly sailing all the way into Petersburg.

We pulled into the dock, anticipating a crazy day of boat chores for Friday.

Friday morning, we got a quick breakfast and an early start. Joe took the skiff over to the parts store after placing a few calls to see who had the needed replacement cables. After a few hours, the new cables were installed. In the meantime, we took advantage of the facilities and caught up on laundry, showers, and some minor grocery shopping for a couple items we forgot in Juneau.

Best of it all, while we did have to skip the hot springs, we were able to meet up with some good friends, Kari and Diane on S/V Pacific Wonder. They were getting ready to leave Petersburg and we were afraid we would miss them. Luckily, we connected Friday evening, learning they had planned to leave Saturday morning at 4:00 am, in order to catch the tide through the Wrangell Narrows. Buddy-boating down through Southeast and BC with friends who had already explored the area, who wanted to take their time as well--that was an opportunity we couldn't pass up.

The alarm went off at 3:40 this morning. The engine fired up, the newly-fixed throttle responded properly, and with coffee in hand, we groggily departed Petersburg. After an uneventful trip down the Wrangell Narrows, we arrived in St. John Harbor on Zarembo Island, dropping the hook at 8:30 am. After breakfast, we took a much-needed nap!

We will likely stay here for the day and, weather-permitting, press on another 20ish miles tomorrow.

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Monday, June 3, 2019

Cutting the Docklines

One final photo of us on the dock in Douglas.
      At 4:05pm, Monday, June 3rd, Kyrie and crew officially joined the ranks of cruisers.  We cut the docklines, and are now underway for points south. It's been such a push to get to this point and it was harder to say goodbye than we all anticipated. So, like ripping off a bandaid, we blasted through our final errands, said goodbye to Kristen's parents, who were visiting from Newport, before they got on the plane to go home, said goodbye at the dock to Joe's parents, and motored away.
      It's totally surreal to realize that we are underway. We've been dreaming about this adventure since Levi was just a little thing and actively planning for this day for the past three years. Now that it's finally here, I almost can't believe it. I keep having to tell myself that we aren't just going on a vacation out around Admiralty and out to the coast. No, this is it and we are really beginning to live the dream Joe and I dreamed about for so long!
      Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, family and friends. The adjustment period is going take a while. Hopefully we don't go stir crazy! Check in with us, send us e-mails, let us hear from you all, and we'll do our best to share this adventure with you.

Juneau in our "rearview mirror."
Who knows when we'll see it again?