Joe's 1998 Alaska Cruise, Part 2

Prince Rupert - Ketchikan - Wrangell - Petersburg

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Petersburg, Alaska, July 15, 1998

This evening I'm sitting in the cabin while a rainstorm rages outside in the marina. Happily, my new windows still don't leak; nevertheless, it's cold and chilly in the cabin (I can see my breath) - polypro and fleece clothing really works (as well as a pair of woolen socks over the polypro ones).

Let's see - a fair number of miles (nautical) have passed under the keel, uh, centerboard, since Prince Rupert. It went something like this (get your maps out):

Prince Rupert --> Brundige Inlet on Dundas Island, a great light-airs sail
Brundige Inlet --> Ketchikan started out foggy and rainy and turned into a great spinnaker run up to Ketchikan

I spent three days in Ketchikan waiting for my ExpressMail parts for the autopilot to arrive (my glue-jointed old gear didn't want to mate with the motor shaft) - I gave up waiting and took off without the parts, relying on my almost twenty-year-old backup autopilot to keep things running. I kept busy in Ketchikan and was able to build a complete computer workstation into the boat, so now I have a nice home for the computer, external keyboard, hard drive, printer, inverter, communications receiver, stereo, and inside GPS - all right next to the chart table (I tore out the head compartment many years ago to make room for this chart table).

A digression - try not to laugh, the porta-potti sits in the cockpit - where else can you get such beautiful panoramic views in secluded anchorages, with fresh-air ventilation? When at anchor the boat points into the wind so the cockpit is well protected by the dodger (unlike here in the marina where I had to close up the hatchboards because the aft end of the boat is pointed into the wind which was driving the horizontal rain straight into the cabin). Actually, I'm now quite civilized, because last summer I built a head compartment into the forward cabin, although I still haven't used it. Sorry, I digressed... Ketchikan was quite a mixture of a tourist trap (there were cruise ships there each day, with five in one day being the max!) and a working commercial town.

From Ketchikan --> Snowy Bay. The first part was interesting since I started early on a foggy rainy morning, but with a light tailwind I put up the light-airs spinnaker... well, it kept building and by midday I had a most interesting time trying to douse the chute in a twenty-knot+ breeze and lots of chop when the spinnaker sock got stuck and the whole thing lifted me up a few times as I tried to force it down - not to worry, I eventually got it down and then socked down the jib to an outer hull and kept on truckin.

Snowy Bay --> Berg Bay. Stopped at the Anan Wildlife Observatory - the salmon have started running and it was sure interesting watching the bears fish - this little brown one spent about an hour fussing and trying (he finally succeeded), whereas this old black momma bear just came down to the water's edge and CHOMP had a huge salmon in ten seconds and was outa there with food for her cubs. The river was black with fish. Speaking of fish, on the dock here in Petersburg, people routinely come down, drop in a line with a bunch of hooks, and almost instantly pull up the line with two or three fish on them and then go home with dinner after just a couple of minutes!

Berg Bay --> Wrangell (pronounced wrangle) - another nice spinnaker run (I put up the heavy-weather chute just in case) - there, a number of people said they had seen me SAILING - evidently all the sailboats just motor up here. Nice town, with petroglyphs visible at low tide.

Wrangell --> Petersburg via the Wrangell Narrows. Interesting bit of navigating up the twenty-mile-long channel. I hit the tides right, so had a pleasant trip up here. Motored most of the way, so the batteries finally recharged (glad I have two on board). The forwarded ExpressMail package with my autopilot parts was waiting for me, so I'm back in business with two working autopilots.

My friend Kathy Ferguson is flying in here on Friday (with yet another autopilot), and we intend to visit some glaciers on the way up to Juneau.

The sailing so far has been quite mundane by SF Bay standards - I don't have roller furling, so it's a chore (but good exercise) to keep switching headsails. Winds like to do 180-degree shifts around here. I still haven't used the heavy-weather or storm jibs, and only put in a single reef twice.

The Yamaha has decided to stop losing parts (I've Loctited everything that wiggled loose) and just purrs along nicely sipping 0.37 gallons/hour at my low cruising speed of 5.2 knots. There's a certain smugness when I put in 2.5 gallons of gas in Wrangell after the trip from Ketchikan right after some guy in a powerboat paid almost $1000 for his fillup.

Ok - enough jabbering. I'm still trying to get the weatherfax to work - it's not really necessary since I receive the NOAA broadcasts on the VHF, but it's the only gadget on this trip that I haven't been able to make work, yet.

Joe Siudzinski

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