Joe's 1998 Alaska Cruise, Part 6

Sitka - Craig, Alaska

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Prince Rupert, British Columbia, August 31, 1998

Hello.
Nice to be here and be able to write this.
I'm ok, bruised and humbled (just a little), with a few more gray (or are they white?) hairs.
The boat is ok, although I'm sure it has loads of new stress cracks.
Amazingly, nothing broke nor tore, and I didn't even get to test the boat's built-in flotation nor the parachute anchor.
We made it here under our own power, thank you.
The bikeboat is ok and happily tracked the motherboat through everything.
The trip from Craig, Alaska, to here will remain in my memory for a while. When I get coherent, I'll write up the events (I had been up for 42 hours straight and am still weaving a little).

Note: that experience is documented fully in Part 7

In the meantime, right now there is horizontal rain here - Alaska has no monopoly on that score (I notice one of the windows on the boat is now leaking - probably the results of the wracking to which it had been subjected). Anyway, the following is what I wrote while being holed up in Craig during some of this interesting weather we've been having. I didn't get away from Craig until Saturday, the day after the storm, and sailed straight from Craig to Prince Rupert, trying (uh, unsuccessfully) to beat another weather disturbance.

If this horizontal rain turns vertical or at least blows horizontally from the north, I plan on heading south in the morning.

Boy, did I get drenched just now coming here from the boat into the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club (like the sound of that) - actually, I'm killing three birds with this one trip off the boat - sending this e-mail, taking a shower, and not having to use my ventilated porta-potti in the cockpit :-)

Craig, Alaska, August 26, 1998

Well, it is howling outside while I am cozily encamped in the boat's cabin - my stove-top clay pot heater raised the temperature from 51degF to a warm 65degF which, coupled with some Alaskan fleece loungeware (or whatever it's called), makes it quite comfy (a glass of California wine doesn't hurt, either). With some bagpipe music by Brother in the background, life is good... (mind you, I recognize that this perspective would probably not be shared by most of you). Hmm, I just had to bulldog-shut my forward-facing Lewmar deck hatch because of the water being driven into it - it is pouring out there! Guess I'll have to turn the stove off...

The weather predictions are getting better - this disturbance had been predicted for almost a week. What's coming on Friday is a real live storm! For those of you non-nautical types, a storm is worse than a gale, and has winds of 48-55 knots.

First the Boring Travelogue

On Sunday I had a marathon sail down the coast from Sitka to Port Alexander - I had originally planned on holing up in one of the coves along the coast, but once I realized that Port Alexander was achievable then it became a race against darkness and the next day's weather - the darkness won, but my trusty computer and GPS led me through the tricky channel into Port Alexander where I rafted up with dozens of fishing boats and sat out Monday's accurately-predicted weather disturbance. Yesterday, I sailed all the way down from Port Alexander across some large sounds and outside Coronation Island, and down to Craig, arriving in the evening, once again barely beating the weather - this time-dependent dawn-to-dusk travel is getting nervewracking! Not having any other migrating pleasure craft in the harbor should give me a clue...

[Port Alexander]Snuggled in with the fishing boats in Port Alexander. You can't quite tell, but it is pouring!

I am now beginning to understand why the Inside Passage is preferable here in Alaska: it's rough out there! The winds weren't bad - in fact they were too light so I had to motorsail much of the time; it's the waves that are strange - coming down yesterday there were at least two distinct incoming ocean swells (about 45 degrees apart) intersecting their reflections off the coast, topped with a wind-induced chop riding on top of tidal currents coming from the Sounds and Straits. Something akin to sailing in an area outside the Golden Gate called the Potato Patch. Messy, and the boat was not happy.

Navigation

I've always treated navigation as a fun activity and continue it on this trip - when in sight of land, at least once every hour I try to take a round of hand-bearing compass readings which I then plot on the chart and then compare to the GPS readings. It's interesting to note that each of the navigational electronics gives a different version of what is going on - on any given course, the Loran and three GPS units all say different things, with courses being sometimes quite strange (errors of 30 degrees). I suspect that one of the GPS (an older unit) and the Loran don't have properly programmed corrections for the 28-degree magnetic variation (nautical term) up here.

Wheeee, a gust just rocked the boat, and this is a multihull, and they're not supposed to rock! - and this is just a disturbance, not even a gale or storm...

Some random musings -

I've taken to eating a lot of bread lately - it sure takes the chore out of dishwashing when most everything can be slurped up with the bread first - after all, I don't have a cat or dog aboard to clean the dishes.

Speaking of cats, I was told up here that a tried and allegedly proven technique to see if the shellfish you collected is not poisonous is to first feed it to your cat and then wait a few minutes to see if there's any reaction...

My observation is that most everyone in Alaska has a pickup truck, a dog, a gun, fishing gear, and a scuzzy powerboat and wears rubber boots, jeans, and flannel shirts. A girl whistled at me the other day when I walked by wearing bright red shorts.

Having won the battle with black dots inside the boat (did you know that mildew remover is merely watered-down Clorox - I now have random white spots all over...), I was amazed to find lots of black spots growing outside the boat ... only to discover that it is soot from the diesel-fuel stove/heater stovepipes on the fishing boats (another reason to put the sailcover on while at the dock).

Do you realize that my boat's living space is about 1/3 the size of unabomber Ted Kaczynski's cabin, and the Feds were going to use that size as proof of his insanity...

I'll end on that note :-)

Joe Siudzinski


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