Joe's 1998 Alaska Cruise, Part 1

Home - Sequim - Vancouver Island - Prince Rupert
Travelogue and Boat Description

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Prince Rupert, British Columbia, 5 July, 1998

Hi all!

I'm sending this from the Prince Rupert Rowing & Yacht Club (or is it Yacht and Rowing Club?) on a dreary rainy Sunday afternoon with a gale blowing outside the harbor so I'm catching up on e-mail and all sorts of things although it would be great to be out there because it would be a tailwind instead of beating into these northwesterlies which are prevalent during 'good' weather...

Just a quickie travelogue...

I trailered up from Los Altos Hills to Sequim at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington (had two flat tires on the trailer within 100 miles of the start of the trip - I now carry three spare tires instead of two for the trailer!) and launched there at the John Wayne Marina. Inasmuch as I was terribly disorganized before leaving home (I just simply threw things into the boat I thought I might need - in addition to the items already on the checklist) that it has taken me this long to sort through everything and try to stow away things like five toothbrushes, seven towels, etc...

[Telstar on Trailer]The Telstar on its custom trailer. The trailer has a subframe which slides down to plunk the boat into the water (after the boat's wings are extended). On the roof of the four-cylinder Isuzu Trooper are the yellow hulls of my dinghy, a SeaCycle pedal-powered catamaran.

You'll need a chart to track me on this ...

Sailed from Sequim to Sidney on Vancouver Island where I visited with a friend Bob Smith who was finishing preparing his catamaran for the Victoria-Maui race. From Sidney to Wallace Island to Secret Cove where I stayed with an old friend Dan Hull who built a lovely home on the water after he retired from Lockheed (his wife was away at a convention, so we both starved). From Secret Cove backwards to Nanaimo to deliver mail from Secret Cove to Mike and Sue Purdy who were stuck there with their Gemini catamaran with motor problems. From Nanaimo to overnight at French Creek to Campbell River (pouring rain) then on to Alert Bay (80 miles) through nasty Johnstone Straits (which within one minute turned from a peaceful 5-knot spinnaker run to a 30-knot headwind with chop to match) then Port McNeill then a stopover in Port Hardy and overnight in Alexander Cove on Nigei Island. Crossed Queen Charlotte Sound and up Fitz Hugh Sound to Kwakume Inlet (lovely place). From there to Bella Bella and anchor in Shearwater then on to Oliver Cove in Reid Passage then up to Fjordland (magnificent and totally deserted) and anchor in Windy Bay. Then onto Bishop Bay where they have a hot spring and was able to relaaaaxxxx :-) On to Hartley Bay and then tried beating up the Grenville Channel but was beaten back, anchored in Coughlan anchorage where I ran out of water and lost my doggie dish (universal eating bowl). The following morning beat up that Grenville Channel to Klewnuggit Inlet (and had my first scary experience in an awful chop trying to beat off a reef to leeward with only the motor - never again will I try to do that without putting the sails up!!) and from there to here in shorts and t-shirt weather yesterday with some beautiful sailing to Prince Rupert (the day before, some people here said they got hammered in this same area).

Telstar and SeaCycle Boat and Equipment

[Telstar towing SeaCycle]Full cruise mode - this photo was taken by another cruiser as I was leaving Codwell Lagoon in British Columbia. Once underway, I towed the SeaCycle using a 1/8" nylon 100' tether.

The boat is doing just great, and am I happy I replaced all the windows before leaving - she's bone dry inside! In addition to the working main and jib, I've managed to use both spinnakers and the genoa, and haven't had to pull out either the heavy-weather or storm jibs. The pedal-powered catamaran (I call it my BikeBoat) is working out marvelously as a tender and giving me some much-needed exercise after I drop anchor - it's daylight until well past 10:00pm, so I try to go on long exploring trips at the end of each day - had a seal do a bellyflop off a high ledge right in front of me as I came around the corner of a cove a couple of days ago - dunno who scared whom more! Finding that creatures are awfully inquisitive - dolphins (or is it porpoises?) play around the boat, as do seals and sea otters (or whatever those furry little playful things are).

[SeaCycle on Telstar]I made a couple of custom supports for the SeaCycle which I had intended to use for heavy-weather passages. As it turns out, I only used this technique once, when passaging from the tip of Vancouver Island across Queen Charlotte Sound; aside from this one instance, I towed the SeaCycle for all 3000 miles, in some cases through some very nasty conditions!

The new motor, a Yamaha 9.9 four-stroke is performing very well, even though it's shaking off bits and pieces here and there - the throttle grip came off in my hand just as I was going through some rapids; on another occasion the engine refused to run and I found some part inside was missing some screws - baling wire and duct tape works just great. The BikeBoat and canoe paddles work great as auxiliary propulsion (now, if I could just rig up a remote control for the autopilot, I could pedal and steer at the same time...)

The significant problem, since I'm singlehanding, is the autopilot - I've fixed it twice now (helps to have been a toaster-fixer in my past life) but yesterday's problem is more serious: a tiny special-purpose plastic gear inside sheared in two. I'll try some KrazyGlue or something...

For navigation, it's really decadent: in addition to the traditional methods of taking bearings and plotting every hour on a paper chart, I've got GPS and it's hooked up to the Macintosh and plots my track directly on the chart on the screen - amazing!

I've got a whole workstation setup on the boat, with the computer, printer, GPS, shortwave receiver (for weatherfax and BBC news - there's no normal radio reception in most of these areas) and a kluged-up stereo system. Still haven't found the time to try out the weatherfax, which takes the receiver audio output and feeds it into the Mac microphone input - I've got a Mac program which supposedly decodes it and produces the weather charts.

For cooking, those freeze-dried things in the evening supplement my huge morning bowl of oatmeal and bananas - I've probably lost ten pounds already, but feel just great!

So far, the trip has been a lot of fun and I've been way too busy to read the dozen magazines and books I brought along - when singlehanding, it's a good idea to look where you're going, especially since the sailing so far has been in fairly restricted channels with lots of bumpy things along the way. I'm awfully tempted to go outside on the way back, since that would be far more relaxing...

OK, enough boring stuff. Dunno when I'll have computer access to a phone line again, so be signing off for now.

Joe Siudzinski

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