Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 426 Rain and more wind.

It was another day of rain and wind with gusts into the mid-30 knot range with big waves hitting everything outside our little bay. The weather folks, both US and Canadian were talking about winds in the 40's in Dixon Entrance which is where we are headed to tomorrow.

We've been here since Thursday and the front has finally decided to pass on. It is slowly getting calmer out there and hopefully it will be gone by early tomorrow morning. Yesterday afternoon, the two power boats that had rafted up together slowly floated through the bay when their anchor came loose. They had been anchored in the far South side of the bay and headed North missing the other boat in the bay. We watched them as they slowly glided past Zephyr. We saw five folks sitting in the cabin of the smaller boat as they went by. As they got close to shore on the North side, the bigger of the two fired up his engine and pulled up his anchor(totally covered in kelp) and headed back to the South side. He never bother to even go forward to look at it. He just dropped it again when he got where he wanted to be. Being covered in kelp, his anchor just slid all over again and he headed back across the bay all over again. Up came the anchor and down went the anchor. It finally held about half way across the bay right in front of the small cut in the shoreline that looks out into the strait.

This morning the other sailboat(had had the engine problem)took off for our guess is Prince Rupert. With winds and waves out of the Southeast, he had a tough go ahead of him. I don't envy him his trip.

Later this afternoon, a large power boat came in and took up residence on the South side. I hope he fairs better than the previous power boats. They're still here in the anchorage. Another sailboat showed up about 1600 and dropped anchor and drifted back to almost exactly where our anchor was dropped. I called them on the VHF radio to advise them that we would be leaving about 0400 and that there might be a problem. Apparently, they were having a problem with their windlass(raises the anchor)and were trying to fix it. I went on deck and talked to the skipper to let him know our situation. He wasn't to concerned but did move to a different location after getting his windlass fixed.

We spent most of the afternoon working on cleaning up inside Zephyr stowing everything that wasn't stowed properly. Not being sure what we will face tomorrow(wind and waves) we want to make sure that everything stays where it is supposed to if it starts to honk out there. Ropes got tightened and things got screwed down and put away. There are a few things to put away on deck but other than that, we are ready to go.

We're off to Prince Rupert and beyond tomorrow. It's just over 50 miles to Prince Rupert where we have to check into Canadian Customs and pick up a part that should be there waiting for us. Then off again to another inlet closer to Grenville Channel. That's set for Tuesdays journey. We've lost three traveling days on our journey back to Port Townsend so we have some ground to make up.

If you're reading this on Monday, it means we got to Prince Rupert and I could log onto their internet server and get it out.

As always, there is more to come so stay tuned. I'll get it out when I can.

Day 424 & 425 Stuck at Foggy Bay

Here we sit, stuck in Foggy Bay for another day. We got here Thursday at 1800 and settle in as we knew a storm was coming and boy did it. We have had winds over 35 knots in this very protected anchorage.

On Friday morning, we launched Puff while the weather was good and putt putted around the bay before taking off for Very Inlet just North of us. It's a nice long and pretty inlet that would be fine for a shallow draft power boats but not to good for a deep keel sailboat like us as the depth can vary greatly through its length. The "professionals" recommend only entering on high tide when there is no current coming out of the inlet. That's why we're in Foggy Bay as it has a good bottom and plenty of room for us to swing on an anchor. We went several miles up the inlet before turning around as the weather was closing in with the look of lots of water in the clouds and we didn't feel like getting drenched.

We saw another sailboat way off shore that appeared to be heading into Foggy Bay as we headed back to Zephyr. As we watched, they got closer and closer until they finally came into the bay--under row power. They had sailed in as far as they could before taking in their sails. Their diesel engine had "flamed out" as one of the men on her said. One guy was in a dingy just rowing away trying to get them into the bay and to a safe place to drop their anchor. We didn't quite understand why he was rowing as the wind was in the perfect position for him to raise a sail and just sail to a safe spot. We yelled over and asked them if they wanted some help but they thought they had it under control. We had already put Puff and Dragon back on board or we would have gone over when we first saw them. After about an hour, they changed the rower and one of the men finally realizing that the winds were in the right place hoisted the genoa and off they went, dragging the guy in the dingy behind them instead of in front of them. They finally dropped their anchor and about two hours later, they got their diesel started. I'd guess a bad diesel filter. That is what normally causes the most problems. Two small power boats showed up later in the day and anchored together.

The forecast was for 50 knot winds from the South and a 100% chance of rain and waves to 18 feet out in the strait. We knew we were in for a fun day or two. The rains came in the afternoon yesterday and stayed through most of the night clearing out this morning. The winds in our little bay vary from 15 to 35 knots and we are surrounded by hills and trees and have come at us from anywhere from the Southeast to Southwest with big blasts of gusts pushing us over a bit until Zephyr correct her self into the wind. We can see through a small cut in the shore out in the straits and it looks miserable out there. There is no organization to the waves so they come from just about every direction and can really trash a boat fast. The rains have stopped and now it's just winds ripping through here with a bit of sunshine for fun, but just a bit every now and then. It has died down a bit but is still honking a lot out there.

We expect it to continue through tomorrow afternoon and we may be able to get out of here on Monday if we are lucky and over to Prince Rupert to check into Canadian Customs and pick up the part that got shipped in several weeks ago. I've already replaced the broken part, but I'll always take a spare just in case.

So for now, we just sit and read and do odd jobs and wait for this to all blow over. We'll get there sooner or later.

Day 423 Part two

I'm sure you read the first part of today, now here is what happened later.

We finished installing the alternator with no problems. As it came out, so it went in. It doesn't perfectly align with the main wheel that comes off the engine which could explain the black dust on it. If the belt is not perfectly aligned between the alternator and the drive wheel that is on the engine, the belt rubs and small bits of the rubber on the belt flake off and make black dust on anything in in the general area. We had some, but not much of that dust on the alternator when I took it off. The alternator on the port side has more showing that it is also not aligned perfectly. Something that will need to be fixed later when the proper washers to fix the alignment are available.

Once it was in, we untied and headed out into the Tongas Narrows that lead past Ketchikan. We took off South only to be greeted by the announcement that the Golden Princess cruise ship was about to leave and also head South followed by the Amsterdam of the Holland America line. Everyone wanted to follow us.

We figured we had at least 20 minutes so we pushed the engine to 1800rpms and took off. We finally heard their announcement that they were leaving. About 30 minutes later, they called us on the VHF radio asking for the sailboat on a broad reach(sailing downwind) heading South in the channel. They asked us to head towards the Twin Rocks and let them pass. We checked our charts and found no listing for the Twin Rocks so we headed to starboard as far as we could get yet still maintain a course in a general direction of where we needed to go. Fifteen minutes later they called us again telling us we were going in the wrong direction and that they wanted us to head to port. We acknowledged their request and headed to port. Once they passed, we check our charts and found we would have been much farther away from them if we had stayed on the earlier course. We radioed the Amsterdam to make sure we were out of their way. I think it surprised them we called. We were fine as long as we maintained our heading, which we did till they were past.

Once past us, we changed course to a more favorable heading and took off with the engine going and the big genoa sail out in front of us. We were in the mid 7 knot range in 12 to 15 knots of wind. Since we left so late, we had a lot of ground to make up if we expected to make it to Foggy Bay by any reasonable time.

We watched our AIS receiver screen and avoided the other ships(mostly fishing boats) as they headed our way. Once clear of the Tongass Narrows, we finally shut down the engine and with only the genoa sail up started hitting 8 to 9 knots of speed. We topped out at 9.3 knots. For only having one sail up, we were flying. Tracy sat out on the port side(down wind) tending the sail while I sat at the wheel keeping us on as straight a course to where we wanted to go as I could. Tracy decided to come inside the cockpit and sit beside me on one of our folding cushions we have. Blue had been sitting on the starboard side just watching the water pass by until she saw Tracy get up. She immediately got up and walked(in a bit of a hurry) over to the folding chair and plunked her self onto it just to spite Tracy. So Tracy just stayed where she was and kept tending the sail.

The farther out we got, the more the winds blew until they were in the mid 20 knot range. We had water coming over the front decks. We started seeing deadheads(floating logs) in the water so I went forward to the bow to watch out for them. We would plunge into the waves and just spring back out of them flying in the air. What a feeling!!! We came close to some deadheads but missed them all. Eventually, we decided to reduce the amount of sail we had out so we could sail a bit flatter in the water. We rolled in some of the genoa(it rolls up at the bow around a roller furling system) until we had reduced it by about 30 percent. We continued to fly, maintaining speeds in the high 7 knot range with only one sail out. The winds let up, so we pulled out the entire sail again and off we went again. We were in 25+ knot winds and the seas had built to 4 to 6 feet. Waves were breaking over Zephyr and hitting the sail on the far side!! It's the most fun sailing we have had in months!!!

Once we got down off Foggy Bay, we pulled up into the wind and rolled up the sail and turned around to head into the bay. We started surfing the waves. We go from 4.8 knots to 8+ knots of speed going up and down the waves as they passed. We ride up the face of one wave and shoot down the far side as it passed us. Over and over until we were around the corner of the island protecting Foggy Bay. The picture on the front of the blog was taken in Foggy Bay by her previous owners. We pulled in at almost exactly 1800 hours, six hours and 38.4 miles later. Down went the anchor(54 57.066 N 130 56.375W) and we were all set. There is another sail boat in the bay with us. About a 26 footer with a small outboard on the stern. There were clothes strewn all over the boom and the lifelines drying out. They must have gotten drenched in the seas we were in. With waves up to 6 feet, it had to be covering their small boat. They have more guts than we do to come out in stuff like that in such a small boat.

The weather for the next three days is for gusts up to 50 knots and huge seas so we expect to be here for a while. Probably Monday before we can get out of here. We checked everything on deck to make sure it was tied down and put the cover back on the mainsail. We have kept it off while out on the water incase something should happen to the engine and we need to raise the sail to give us some power to move. WIth the winds and rain that are forecast, we felt it better to have it covered for a while.

Tracy was out at the bow and looked down at the fitting that holds the forestay(wire at the bow that holds the genoa sail and roller furling)to the deck in the same fitting that holds the anchor. The stainless steel pin(as big around as your little finger)that goes through the fitting is held in that fitting by a bronze cotter pin that goes through a hole drilled through it. The stainless steel pin had moved to one side and had just about sheared the cotter pin off as it tried to back its way out of the fitting. If it had not been caught, there was the possibility that if it had popped out, it could have brought down the entire rigging especially with what we had faced today. I grabbed a hammer, two sets of needle nose pliers and more cotter pins and headed out for a quick repair. It took some work, but I got the big stainless steel pin to shift so I could remove the bronze cotter pin and install a stainless steel one. It should hold better being made of a stronger material. This is one of the reasons I check all the fitting and deck equipment on a weekly basis.

Well, that is about all for today. Broken equipment has been fixed(with no swearing or blood letting) and we had a great afternoon of sailing. It was a great day today.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 423 All fixed and we're off again!

We called Whites Marine and the alternator was fixed so off we went to pick it up.  He found a small screw inside the alternator when he took it off and that is what caused the short that trashed the unit.  A little itty bitty screw and poof, up goes $200.00 bucks.  Rich(owns White's Marine) gave us some information of how to keep it running and not over tax it by making it produce too many amps when it just can't physically do so.  Just run the Honda Generator for a while before you leave and all should be well.  That will take a lot out of the demand on the alternator.  We got back to Zephyr and I reinstalled her just fine and tightened the belts as instructed(real tight).  I'll be checking them again over the next few days to make sure they stay tight to get the most out of the alternator.

Well, were off again for Foggy Bay, our last stop before we are back in Canada.  The weather is supposed to be pretty bad for crossing Dixon Entrance so we may have to sit there for a few days and wait it out till better weather shows up.  You don't want to cross there in bad weather.  It can trash you real fast from what I have heard.

Our next post will be from Prince Rupert if a day or three.

As always, more to come!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 422 Fire!!

We left Meyer's Chuck at 0500 right on time for Foggy Bay.  About a half hour later I looked at the voltage readout on our Garmin chart plotter and it showed 12.9 volts.  Now normally it reads 14.1 this early in the trip as it is recharging the previous nights amp hour usage to bring the battery back up to a full load of amp hours.  I headed down below to see if I had set the battery switches to the wrong location for the charger.  As I opened the cabin door, a whiff of burning greeted me.  I rushed below and opened the engine room doors only to be greeted by a compartment full of smoke.  We had a fire in the engine room!!  I yelled up to Tracy to shut her down and pulled off the doors as we came to a halt, dead in the water.  I threw open the top hatch and the port lights to get as much fresh air in as possible.  So far, all I saw was smoke,  no flames.  OK, that good, I guess.  It smelled bad but at least there was no flames.  As the smoke cleared, I started hunting to see what had gone wrong.  I check the wires--all in good condition.  I pulled out the oil dip stick to check the engine--just fine.  The transmission--fine.  I checked the port alternator(charges the starter batteries)-- looked fine as did the starboard alternator(charges the house batteries).  Everything looked fine.  I started up the engine(sigh of relief that it would start) and went at it again checking everything in the compartment.  I pulled out my voltmeter and checked the port alternator--14.15 volts--just fine.  The starboard alternator--12.8--only what the battery currently had in it.  It had burned up and failed in a big cloud of smoke.  The fan belt was still running just fine, but the guts of it were toast.  We'd had it rebuilt last year during the refit.  I guess it couldn't take the work we were expecting of it.

OK, we could move under power.  We put out some sail to assist and took off for Ketchikan.  I left the engine room doors off so I could monitor the situation in case it got bad again.  Tracy suggested that I lower the DuoGen (makes electricity) into the water and let it keep the batteries charged.  Smart girl!!  We turned off all non essential items that used power and took off.  We could maintain 6.5 knots and with the DuoGen in the water, we could maintain the voltage we needed.  All we kept on was the Garmin chart plotter so we could take the most direct route into Ketchikan.

Having left at 0500 and with the stop to see what our problems were, we still made it into the marina by 1015.  We got assigned a slip by the Harbormaster and pulled in all safe and sound.  We aired out the engine room to cool the alternator and took off for the office to check in and get direction to a repair shop.  They were great up there.  They even got another guy there to draw us a map of where the shop was.  They had a complete directory of local shops and repair folks already printed.  Gee, I guess I'm not the first person to stop here with a problem in their boat.  The did tell us that sometimes the owner leaves the shop and we better call before we went.  We did so and no answer.  We still needed to get it repaired, so we returned to Zephyr and started ripping out the alternator.  While the port one is nice and easy to get to, the starboard one is wedged in nice and tight against the wall of the compartment and the heating duct.  In I went with Tracy handing me tools as I went at it.  Off came the wires--first turning off the power to the line at the master switch.  Then off with the nuts and bolts and out she came.   Almost too hot to handle even after sitting for an hour or so.  Into a bucket for carrying and off we went for the bus into town.  

As we got to the bus stop up at the office, a man came over and offered us a ride into town.  He lives on his sailboat and has for the past 20 years all in Ketchikan.  Man, now there is a hardy soul.   He took us right to White Marine Services.  As we had been lead to believe, he wasn't there so we walked down the street to Burger Queen for lunch.  They make a great burger.  We'd eaten there when we were here before so it was nice to get the same great food all over again.  It was just 12:45 when we finished and we walked back to the shop.  Nope, still not there.  Tracy took off for the bus to Safeway and I settled in for a nice nap right in front of the shop.  It was on a back street so I didn't look quite homeless, but I did have a few people stare at me as they passed.  He finally showed up about 1350 so I didn't get that long a nap.  

In typical Alaskan fashion, he calls a spade a spade and looked at the alternator and pronounced it dead and then when on the tell me it was a piece of crap.  That a bunch of alternator manufacturers had produced a bunch of automobile alternators and added "marine" to the box and sold them as though they were for boat usage.   He showed me what the insides are supposed to look like(nice and shiny)--mine, not so much.  Black and charred.  He then went on to ask if I had any other way of charging the batteries.  Yep, a Honda generator.  He suggested I fire it up first thing in the morning to relieve the strain on the alternator by already having the battery pretty well charged before we even start the engine.  That the alternator we had wasn't built to do what we were asking it to do.  Our demand for amps was more than it could do.  Boy, are we going to make friends in anchorages at 0400 running a generator for an hour or so!!  We're not sure how to proceed but we will do what we have to do.  He then asked if I was in a hurry--(stuck at the marina) as he had a funeral to go to tomorrow.  He asked for my phone number and seemed surprised that I didn't have one.  I've got numbers, the phones just don't work up here.  He told me to call him tomorrow morning about 0900 to see what he had found.  Maybe we'll get it back then or maybe not.  We'll see tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here we sit, nice and safe and sound in a nice town full of great helpful people.

Day 421 A long slog!

We left this morning at 0400, getting up at 0330. Yes, that's right, were living the dream. When is the last time you got out of bed at that hour?

It was raining as it had all night and it would continue for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon before finally stopping about 1300. It just sprinkled off and on after that. It did finally stop just after we put the anchor down in Meyer's Chuck(55 44.441N 132 15.499W) at 1515 hours. An eleven hour plus day of a long slog to get here.

As I said, it was raining when we left but we had the tide with us to help push us the first part of the trip to Snow Passage. We got up to 8.7 knots through that portion of the trip. After that, it was all up hill from there. The winds came barreling up Clarence Strait at speed of 42 knots that we saw on our gauge. Add in that the tide changed and was suddenly against us to the tune of 2.5 to 3 knots and Zephyr slowed to a crawl. Toss in 4 to 5 foot swells and we were just having a great time. To really understand what it was like, go to some cowboy bar and climb on the mechanized fake bull that they always have and start it up. You'll under stand the fun we were having. Add someone with a fire hose and a wind machine and there you go. At least we didn't hit any stray dead heads this time. At times, we were down to 1.2 knots and that was with the engine doing 1800 rpms. A bit faster than we normally run her just to try and make some headway. There were times we would get up to over 6 knots only to be suddenly slowed back to 4.3 for some unknown reason. Up and down all day long. As I said, it took us over eleven hours to cover the 55.9 nautical miles we went today. We were just above crawling, but we did make it. We've now covered 202.4 miles in the last four days.

It brought back some memories of our trip up from Newport back in July of last year. No where as steep a wave, but just as big a wind. The kids were not impressed. Blue was drooling and Snowshoe was just ticked. Shadow buried himself under pillows on the settees and stayed there. I spent some time in the main salon just petting poor Blue. She was not a happy camper by any means.

Myer's Chuck is quite the group of houses. It's one of the largest non-towns we have seen since we got to Alaska. There is even a dock, though we chose to anchor out again. It's much easier and we have more privacy and since we tend to leave earlier than most, we won't disturb the other boaters. An 82 foot power cruiser(Pastime) just came in(several hours after us)and dropped their anchor just off our stern. It has crowed the anchorage a bit(hope they have good insurance). A sailboat(Pipe Dream IX) came in about 20 minutes after us and took the last space at the dock. They are welcome to it. We have come to prefer staying out on the hook so to speak. The kids can't go any where.

Tomorrow, we have set our sights on making it to Foggy Bay just North of Prince Rupert, BC. It's almost a 70 mile trip so we will again be off early in the morning. We expect by 0500 to make the best tides to get us where we need to go and avoid the cruise liners that ply these water. We just saw Norwegian Sun pass Meyer's Chuck a few minutes ago.

Day 420 Part two.

OK, for those who have read the earlier blog post for today that I did as we passed through Petersburg, here is the rest of the day.

As we entered Wrangell Narrows beside Petersburg(you would have thought they would have called it Petersburg Narrows), we hit a 5.2 knot current throwing up into the narrows. Our speed jumped to 10.8 knots right off the bat. Unfortunately, it didn't stay there. We dropped to 8, then 7 then 6 as we went down the narrows. We still had tide pushing us, but as the afternoon progressed, it got smaller and smaller. The trick to getting through the narrows is to enter as it is still flooding inward. For some reason(I have no clue), the narrows flood from both ends at the same time and ebbs from its ends at the same time. It meets in the middle and really makes some interesting eddies for boats to pass through.

As you have read, I did my "war driving" or I guess it is more "war boating" as we passed through Petersburg and I got several posts posted on our blog. I picked up my emails and went to a web sight and that was all the time we had. One of the Alaskan State Ferries(Taku) had pulled into it's dock and was getting ready to leave and we wanted to avoid it if we could.

Off we went heading South though the narrows passing a lot more traffic heading North than we did eight days ago when we came North. We even ran into "Aye Aye Sir", one of our friends that we met a while ago at Codville Lagoon when we went to his birthday party on his boat. A nice couple. They are a ways behind us as are the rest of the group that transited up here with us.

As we progressed South, I checked the AIS and saw a boat doing 35 knots going across the Sumner Straits just to the South entrance of Wrangell. They were also 350 feet long!!! BIG and FAST!! It ended up being another of the Alaskan State Ferries--just one of their faster express boats I guess. A catamaran style ferry instead of one of their regular ferries. It really moves along at a fast clip for a boat that big. It passed us a while later doing a sedate 9.3 knots. Luckily, it was in a wider part of the narrows where I could get over. It has a beam of over 70 feet as I remember. That doesn't leave a lot of room in some of the more narrow parts of the channel.

If you read the part 1 of this post, I talked about hitting a large "dead head" as we transited Frederick Sound. Tracy was napping in the cockpit and I never saw it coming. We were in 24 knot winds(straight at us of course) and about a 3 foot chop and it was sitting low in the water. Crash, boom!! We rode up over the log and it split in two passing on either side of Zephyr as it went. I watched it move off behind us after the collision. I'd cut the throttle and put the engine in neutral just after we hit it. No damage that we have found. The bilge is dry and I don't see any water coming into the Anchor locker at the bow. We had planned to launch Puff and go around the boat checking the hull, but it is raining quite well, and since we have seen no direct effect from the collision, it may get put off to tomorrow when we reach our next stop. We''ll see if the rain stops later. (the rain stopped and we put Puff in the water--no damage we could see)

Once we pulled into St John Harbor(56 26.390N 132 57.680W) we joined another 6 boat already at anchor. There ended up being 15 boats in the harbor as of this morning. One other sail boat(we'd seen them at Matia over two months ago) and the rest are commercial fishing boats.

We left at Poratge Bay at 0830 to time our arrival at Petersburg to hit the right current in the Narrows. It was strange not being "on the road" by 0600 or earlier. We got in at 1620, almost 8 hours later. At 47.2 miles, we didn't break any land speed records but we fought the tide heading up Frederick Sound and it reduced our speed to 5.3 at some times plus the time "war boating" set us back a while. You can't just park a boat and get a signal. In a busy harbor, we just kept going in circles getting the signal and then loosing it. But hey, I got the posts out didn't I.

Once we got here, I had planned to change out the diesel injector oil again. We were just passing 50 hours so it was time all over again. It seems strange to me that they would design a diesel engine that requires something to be serviced at an interval of only 50 hours of operation. I pulled out one of my gallon jugs for the normal engine oil changes and got the 12 ounce I needed from it. Slick as a whistle. Each time, it gets easier.

Since it was raining as we dropped anchor, we were still surprised to see water on the cabin sole in the walkway to the stern cabin. Not a lot of water but still some water. The furr people hadn't had an accident so we mopped it up and chalked it up to a rain water leak. I typically take off the doors to the engine compartment to allow the heat from the engine to flow into the main cabin on Zephyr to heat up the room. As I took off the doors, there was water along the bottom jam of the door. OK, I guess the water on the floor wasn't from rain after all if there was some on the door frame. I looked farther with a flashlight and found that one of the hoses that takes the sea water cooling system in the engine and mixes it with the engine exhaust(cools it down) had a hole in it. Not a big hole, but it was spraying salt water around as the engine ran. I took off the clamp and cut off about two inches off hose and fitted it back on the fitting. It is a metal reinforced hose so I'm a bit surprised it split. Luckily, it split right beside the clamp so it was no problem getting it fixed.

Well, we will be listening to the weather forecasts for tomorrow for Clarence Strait to see what they have in mind for it. Last we heard, it was 20 knot winds(from the South of course) and 3 foot chop. Not too bad really. With luck, we will be in Meyer"s Chuck by some time tomorrow afternoon. I thinks it's another 56 mile day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 320 If you read this we just passed through Petersburg.

We are about to head into Petersburg and of course, there is an Alaskan State Ferry(Taku) at the dock that will probably be leaving just as we are.

It'll take just over 3 hours to get through Wrangell Narrows and out the other end. Then over to St. Johns Cove for the night. We'll be launching Puff when we get there as we hit a big dead head(big floating log) a few hours ago. It was about 2 1/2 feet in diameter so we will be checking for any damage. So far, we have found no water coming in but want to see if there is any cracks we will need to repair once back in Port Townsend. Doubtful with Zephyrs thick hull, but better safe than sorry. We split the log in half as we hit it. I dropped it into neutral and powered back as fast as I could so nothing hit the prop at least.

OK, I have to close now as we are heading into Petersburg and I have to start searching for an internet signal I can use.

Stay tuned for more to come.

Day 319 An easy day today.

Our anchor came up all covered in grass and kelp this morning as we prepared for leaving Gambier Bay. What a slimy mess to get untangled. I've run into mud, sand, shell and had the anchor come up nice and clean, but rarely covered in the green slimy stuff. It was all through the chain too. We were up and off by 0555 to catch the out going tide to help us along on our next leg South. We'd spent the night in an unnamed cove on the North side of Gambier rather than go farther into Gambier and anchor in Snug Cove on the South side. That was an extra 3-4 miles that we just didn't need to retrace this morning. That's an extra 30+ minutes of travel time and the cove we spent the night in was just fine(except for the seaweed covered anchor).

The winds blew enough last evening to help the DuoGen make lots of amps so we could watch another two episodes of "24". We'd missed an episode the night before so we got two last night. We just fire up the Apple computer and cable it over to the TV and we're set for a nice bit of entertainment. It was strange to sit at anchor in the middle of no where and see something on TV. Then again, we don't even watch it when in a big city as our new Shakespeare antenna doesn't work too well at pulling in any signals. We've found that we don't really miss the tube that much.

As we left the entrance ot Gambier Bay, we, of course, ran smack into "Rhapsody of the Sea", a Royal Caribbean liner. They were heading up the channel at the exactly the same time we were heading out. Of course, it was the only liner we saw the entire trip today and they just happened to be right where we needed to cross. At least this time, this ship had it's AIS(Automatic Identification System) working so we knew it was coming and could take the appropriate action. SLOW down and let them pass. As I've said before, it ships, bigger normally wins.

We headed down the channel seeing the occasional fishing boats. Some with people at the wheel and some on auto pilot with no one at the wheel. I guess they think that with the channel so big, there is no chance of coming across another boat. We stayed out of it's way as it just kept on coming.

We pulled into Portage Bay(57 00.150N 133 19.370W) at 1155. An easy 6 hour trip. We did 36.3 miles or just over 6 nautical miles per hour. We've come 99.2 miles of our trip South in the past two days. After we dropped the anchor, we checked tides for tonight and tomorrow morning and found that we will be at -3.5 feet at tomorrows low tide. As we were anchored in somewhat shallow water(16 feet)at mid-tide range, we decided to take the anchor back up and move to a bit deeper water just to make sure we don't have a problem tomorrow as the low tide is just before we plan on leaving here. Since low tide would have put us at about 4 feet under the keel, losing the extra 3.5 feet of the extra low tide could have made it a bit harder to get out if we hit a place where the bottom came up instead of going down. Ah, the things we have learned over the last year. We had no idea what effects tide had until we boarded Zephyr. Now we know what to watch for whenever we anchor(or pull into some remote dock some where). Bill(previous owner)left a lead line(lead weight at the end of a line that has knots tied in it at specific intervals to tell you how deep the water is)on board. I've used it several times to verify our depth in some coves.

Today was a short day as we need to go back through Wrangell Narrows(no where near Wrangell) and the proper time for todays passage was just after 1200 hours and there was no way we could make the 21 miles from Portage to Petersburg in time for the passage unless we left Gambier at about 0300 and we're not in that big a hurry(at least not yet). Tomorrow, the tide shifts(it changes times each day) to about 1230 hours so we can leave here about 0830 and make the 21 miles and be ready for the transit at the right time. I've left us some extra time so I can go "war driving" again as we go through Petersburg so I can get these posts out for you. So today is a short day and tomorrow will be a lot longer. The 21 miles to Petersburg, then 21 through the Narrows and then another 4 across Sumner Channel to St. Johns Cove for the night. We get to avoid all the fishermen in their small boats(love to stay in the middle of the channel) that clogged the passage when we came though a few weeks ago. We'd love to go a bit farther but there are no other coves past St. John for about 20 more miles.

The current weather forecast for Tuesday is for Southeast winds to 30 knots and 6 foot waves coming right at us up the Clarence Strait plus rain. We may be forced to stay an extra day if the weather turns that bad. We might not mind it so much but our furr people really hate it. The current plan is to go from St. Johns Cove to Meyer's Chuck on Tuesday(weather permitting) and then from Meyer's Chuck, past Ketchikan, to Foggy Bay in one day. That's about 68 miles so it's going to be a long day if we can pull it off. Time and weather will see.

Day 318 Heading back!

We covered 1400 miles in 10 weeks and now have started the trip back to Port Townsend.

Last night, we filled the water tanks and that was the last thing we had to do other than walk up the hill to sit outside the library and get on their internet signal to post our blogs. When I got back to Zephyr, I ran into our neighbors--Nick and Monica who have the boat in the next slip. Real nice couple. Nick's a State Trooper. When a power boat came in at full speed(in a no wake zone), the owner of a boat at the end of the pier that got thrown around got ticked and started yelling at the other boater. More verbal confrontations continued until the treat of "meet me at the top of the hill and we will settle this" came out. Ah, the joys of testosterone overflow(and alcohol)!!! Both took off for the top of the hill and Nick headed below to put on his uniform to stop the up coming fight. I guess, they are never "off duty". I never heard any ambulances so I guess he put a stop to it. As I said, a great couple of people.

We left at 0510 this morning and headed out headed South in the Gastineau Channel. Six plus miles to the end and what do we find there but the Carnival Spirit about to make the turn to head up the channel. They called us and Tracy told them we would turn to starboard and so we would pass port side to port side. That seemed fine to them and off they went. I had just booted our computer to see if there were any other big liners out there and found(much to my amazement) that their AIS wasn't running. They didn't appear any where on my screen. I called them on the VHF radio and let them know that either my computer wasn't working or their AIS was down. They seem quite surprised and about 10 minutes later, on it came. Then off a few minutes later, then back on again. On and off. I think they had a problem getting it up and running and that is not a good thing when so many other boats rely on AIS to tell them who is out there and where they are going.

We kept heading South being passed by numerous small and larger fishing boats. A new fishing season started today and everyone wanted to get out there ASAP. Of course we had wind straight at us and a bit of an opposing current but we still managed to make over 6 knots the entire way.

Since the trip back is going to be much longer everyday, we will be in the cockpit in shifts. Two hours on and two hours off. It will help the 10 hour plus days seem much better and easier to handle. I went below and took a nap during my break.

We saw the occasional group of porpoises as they passed Zephyr playing in her wake and then off they would go. Hardly any other ships other than a few fishing boats were seen. It's one of the things that has surprised us this trip is the lack of other cruisers up here. We've seen just about none since we left Ketchikan. We don't think we are that early, we think that there just aren't as many this year.

We pulled into Gambier Bay(57 29.065N 133 56.609W) and dropped the anchor at 1500 hours. Just short of a ten hour day covering 62.9 miles. Not bad. Tomorrow, we are off for Portage Bay. A short day--only about 35 miles since we can't get through Wrangell Narrows at the right time till Monday afternoon. The narrows are a four hour trip at best and as it is, we will be heading in about 1400 getting us out about 1800 and then we will be heading over to St. John Cove to anchor if all works out well.

WIth luck, I'll be able to go "War Driving" again going through Petersburg and find a stray internet connection so I can get this posted.

Stay tuned folks, it going to be a fast trip!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 416 & 417 Into Juneau, AK!!

We made it. We're in Juneau, Alaska!! It took 1400 miles and 10 weeks, but we're here!!

We left Tracy Arm yesterday a little after 0600 in the rain(what a surprise) and headed up Stephen Passage trying to avoid all the ice bergs that had escaped from Tracy Arm. They vanished quickly as we headed North. We were followed the entire way by a tug(Pacific Patriot) pulling a barge full of supplies for Juneau. There are no roads that come to Juneau. The only way in is by plane or boat. You can get close but not all the way. Stephens Passage was "lumpy" with 3-4 foot swells tossing us back and forth. We hoisted the Genoa sail at the bow to give us a bit more speed and stability. With winds of 8 to 12 knots, it helped a bit, but not much. We did gain some speed so that helped.

As we looked up the channel toward Juneau, there were five cruise ships sitting at the wharfs. Amazingly, none of then disembarked while we were heading up the channel. We had expected at least one to start heading South, but we got lucky. I called the Harbormaster to get a slip assignment for a couple of nights. The bridge in the middle of Juneau has a vertical clearance of only 50 feet and since our mast is 64 feet tall, we had to be assigned to a marina in Douglas, across the channel from Juneau. There is no office to pay for our slip(you have to go into town or call their office), nor any kind of facilities(showers, restrooms, laundry)at this "marina". It's just a place for people to keep their boats but don't expect anything other than that for your money.

Before we went to the "marina", we went to the fuel dock and filled our tanks. The first time since Shearwater, BC. We took 116 gallons and had run the engine for just over 111 hours or about a gallon per hour. For a boat this size, that's pretty good milage. Normally, you don't get that good a milage.

We were helped into the dock in Dougles by a nice couple in the next slip. They are working on aluminum boat they had for a few years. It look like it's built for just about anything that could get thrown at it. They're in the process of making new cabinets for the stern section. He's a state trooper and she is from Aurora, our home town. A nice couple. They gave us a lift to Costco later in the afternoon.

As we got settled in, a nice young woman stopped by to give us information about the city, but she couldn't take any kind of payment. I don't quite understand that but that is the way they do it here. We walked up the street and found a nice cafe for lunch(now 1400 hours) and passed the Post Office. They had a pay phone so I went back later to call in our payment information for our slip. The pay phone couldn't complete the call. It kept saying the number was not a good number. The nice people in the Post Office used their phone and got right through to the Harbormasters office so I could pay.

Once I got back to Zephyr, we took off for Costco. We scored big time there. A case of oil for future oil changes on Zephyr. I'd used my last two gallons at Tracy Arm. Now we will be good for several more changes. We also found the new season of "24". We'd seen about half if it. Now we will find out what happened after we lost TV weeks ago. We took a taxi back and got settled in for the night.

We arose this morning and did the "tourist" thing in Juneau. We took the city bus over to Juneau and wandered through stores and shops. There were only two cruise ships in town. Not the 8,000 people that descend on the town on a normal day. In the afternoon, we took a "tour" bus to Mendenhall Glacier. Man, what a chunk of snow and ice. It's receding every year and has lost a good bit of it's length since Tracy was here 10 years ago. We bought some more provisions at the local grocery store and took the bus back to Zephyr. Now, all we have to do is fill our water tanks and we will be set to leave here tomorrow for the long trip South. We'll be up and out by 0500 at the latest to make the tides work for us. We expect to be at Snug Harbor by tomorrow night.

We will be out doing long distance trips for the for seeable future to get us back to Port Townsend, we are plotting a course averaging 60 miles a day instead of the 30 to 35 we did on the way up here. I'm not sure when I will be able to post again until we get back near Vancouver Island so I can use their internet system through Verizon's network. Stay tuned, I'll get out posts as often as I can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 415 Up Tracy Arm

We were up early again this morning and set out at 0520 for the top of Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier. All I can say is WOW, what a trip. It had rained through the night and the day started out overcast but changed to partly cloudy and partly sunny through the morning.

We saw waterfall after waterfall all the way up and marveled at the marks on the sheer rock face walls where the glaciers had cut the stone so many centuries ago. Lots of green landscape as well as snow dotted the valleys. If you ever have the chance to see it, don't pass it by. It's an incredible trip. We were passed by the Star Princess cruise ship shortly after we set out as well as a smaller tour boat, Northern Discovery, taking lots of tourists up the Arm. We were later passed by the Golden Princess liner. We pulled over to the side and let each pass as they came by. They sent out VHF calls to let other boaters know that they were coming. The Star Princess made a direct call to us to let us know they were coming up our stern. I bundled up and stood at the bow the entire way up watching for small chunks of ice as we went. The last thing we needed was damage to the hull. Some of the "bergie bits" are just chunks of ice that sit so low in the water it is hard to see them unless you keep a watch out. That was my job for the trip. We almost made it to the end but were stopped by pack ice. A large flow of nothing but bergs blocking our way. If we had had a steel hull, we might have made it but with fiberglass, there was too much chance of damage to not only the hull but the prop also. We made it as far is 57 53.061N 133 15.042W, about three miles from Sawyer Glacier. We called the Star Princess as she was leaving the pack ice to see what it was like farther up. Lots of ice was the reply. They had stopped at Sawyer Island just around the corner from where we had stopped. Not much farther than us and they are a big ship prepared for the channel and ice.

Sadly, we turned around and beat a hasty retreat back the way we came knowing that the Golden Princess would catch up later in the trip. As it turns out, we almost made it back to Tracy Arm Cove by the time they caught us. We made the 41.6 mile trip in just about 7 hours exactly. About 6 knots per hour including stops to just look and listen and of course wait for the big boys to pass us by. Once we get internet, I will be posting some amazing photos of what we have seen. It's like seeing Yosemite Park while on water. Absolutely amazing!!

I changed the oil in the engine this afternoon after our return. It took the last of our oil supplies so I will be buying more in Juneau as I know I will be having to change it again before we get back to PT. Since it has to be changed about every 100 engine hours, that time comes quickly when you are forced to motor every day since the winds are against us. Luckily, we will have some good winds for the trip South next week.

Tomorrow, off for Juneau to restock and refuel before we head back South for Port Townsend. We are going to see if there are any tour boats that could take us to Glacier Bay to see a glacier there since we missed Sawyer Glacier. It took us 10 weeks to get this far and we have about 4 to get back, so we will have to double our normal days milage and make lots fewer stops along the way to get back when we plan. We have more equipment to install and we are not about to miss the "weather window" to head South along the Pacific coast this year like we did last year.

Tomorrow into Juneau.

Day 414 Mother Nature gives in.

As we left Cleveland Passage on the way to Tracy Arm, I was bundled in my foul weather gear all over again. It had rained most of the night and looked to continue through today. Not what we wanted when we saw our first ice bergs.

We left at 0620 and headed North, well sort of at least. Up Stephens Passage. A long wide body of water that leads to Juneau. As we went, the weather started to break and we started to have some sunshine!! Boy, it sure felt good after several days of rain and gloom. We saw several groups of whales playing way off in the distance as we headed North. I'd fired up the computer and our AIS and saw several cruise ships headed our way. Norwegian Pearl, Rhapsody Of The Sea, and later even more. Norwegian Pearl was headed for Juneau in the late morning but was back and heading up Tracy Arm about 1630 hours. Man, these guys cover a lot of water in a day. A few hours here and a few hours there and that's all you get. They couldn't have been in Juneau for more than four hours. Oh well, not my problem.

Having left so early, we took advantage of the flood tide and made it to Tracy Arm(57 48.61N 133 37.980W) by 1220 hours. Just 6 hours to cover 37.3 miles. Not too bad. I stood at the bow all the way into the bay and guided Tracy in as there were bergs of all sizes in the water surrounding us. Some big(easy to see) and some that just barely broke the water(hard to see)but could really mess up your boat and propeller if you hit them. We were shadowed by another big cruising power boat, "My Suzy". A 72 foot biggy. They zipped into Tracy Arm or as he called it over the VHF, "Tracy's Arm" and pulled into the cove right beside where we had just dropped our anchor to see if it had held as they were coming back to the cove in about a week after they had seen what they wanted to see farther North. As we had just dropped our anchor, it was hard to tell him how well we were holding. As the day progress and the winds came out of the South, she held just fine as it turns out.

We had a quick lunch(fighting off LOTS of BIG horse flies) and launched Puff and took Dragon(Mercury 8HP out board motor) along as the winds were more than I wanted to row in. Dragon started up after about 4 pulls of the cord. Not too bad for a motor that hasn't been used since May 29 at Codville Lagoon. We wanted to go see all the ice bergs that we had passed as we came into Tracy Arm. There were dozens of them in all shapes and sizes and all an iridescent blue. They almost seemed as that they could glow in the dark. I'll post lots of pictures once I can get on the internet again.

Just as we were about to head out, a berg just outside the cove where we stopped rolled over and Tracy saw it all. She was not impressed(scared and rightfully so) and wanted to make sure we didn't get too close to any of them. The last place you want to be is beside a berg when it rolls. It can swamp the boat you are in very quickly. We worked our way through the maze of bergs and picked up some ice from the one that rolled. It was perfectly clear. I've never seen ice so clear. It was like an abstract piece of glass it was so clear. I had some later in a drink. It stays frozen much longer in drinks than regular cubes, at least that is what it looked like to us. It appears to be a much denser ice. My drink had ice in it from literally thousands of years ago. What a kick!!!

It stayed beautifully sunny for the rest of the afternoon and may be the same tomorrow when we take off for the big glaciers at the head of the bay. We saw several tour boats as well as two other cruisers coming back from their tours. The two cruisers are anchored in the cove with us tonight. We even saw a sea plane buzz us over head heading back to Juneau.

Once back at Zephyr, we put Dragon back on her rack and hoisted Puff back on board so we will be ready for tomorrow as we plan on heading up to the glaciers at 0500 to take advantage of the flood tide as the lack of tour boats at that time. The sun now rises at 0352(yeah, that's right 3:52AM!) and sets at 2158 hours(9:58PM). That's a lot of day light!! The days just keep on getting longer each day. It is still twilight we I go to bed at 2100 hours. Really strange to see it light so late at night.

Well, it's off to bed as 0430 will be here soon.

Day 413 At anchor in Cleveland Passage.(rain)

The rains of yesterday have continued into today and are present in every days forecast for as long out as the goes. Oh joy! We have traveled well over 1200 miles to see the glaciers in Tracy Arm in all their splendor just to have the weather be cloudy and full of rain. Perhaps it will be better after we visit Juneau. Only time and Mother Nature know for sure.

We upped anchor at Ruth Island in Thomas Bay about 0820 and headed out. Tracy was at the wheel while I went out and used the windlass to get our CQR anchor up and stowed. At 66 pounds, it does a great job of holding Zephyr in place. We have a second one stowed below just incase. It's 8 miles just to exit Thomas Bay to get to Frederick Sound. With it being quite overcast and still raining, we fired up the AIS as well as the radar to see what was out there. The clouds had just about settled 500 feet above the water line. We saw plenty of small fishing boats and later the Kennecott Ferry making it's way to Petersburg and beyond. Other than that, no traffic in big boats at all(that's just fine with us).

We had the tide behind us and we flew along at between 7 and 8 knots most of the way. We covered the 36.4 miles in 4 hours 50 minutes. Great speed for such a heavy boat. I had to go out and clear the windows of rain from time to time as rain covered windows tends to restrict our view of what is out there. We saw a few whales in the distance but nothing any where near us.

We plan on being in Tracy Arm tomorrow and will make plans then to either go up the passage to the glaciers or continue on to Taku Harbor and then Juneau as it's over 60 miles to Juneau from Tracy Arm. By the time you read this, we will be in Juneau and will know what our decision was. We're surprised how few cruisers boats we have seen since leaving Ketchikan 5 days ago. Hardly a single one other than the two big power boat cruisers South of Wrangell Narrows.

Let's hope for better weather than what is forecast for the future. We've had some gorgeous weather up till now and would love some more, especially when we see the glaciers.

Day 413 At anchor in Cleveland Passage.(rain)

The rains of yesterday have continued into today and are present in every days forecast for as long out as the goes. Oh joy! We have traveled well over 1200 miles to see the glaciers in Tracy Arm in all their splendor just to have the weather be cloudy and full of rain. Perhaps it will be better after we visit Juneau. Only time and Mother Nature know for sure.

We upped anchor at Ruth Island in Thomas Bay about 0820 and headed out. Tracy was at the wheel while I went out and used the windlass to get our CQR anchor up and stowed. At 66 pounds, it does a great job of holding Zephyr in place. We have a second one stowed below just incase. It's 8 miles just to exit Thomas Bay to get to Frederick Sound. With it being quite overcast and still raining, we fired up the AIS as well as the radar to see what was out there. The clouds had just about settled 500 feet above the water line. We saw plenty of small fishing boats and later the Kennecott Ferry making it's way to Petersburg and beyond. Other than that, no traffic in big boats at all(that's just fine with us).

We had the tide behind us and we flew along at between 7 and 8 knots most of the way. We covered the 36.4 miles in 4 hours 50 minutes. Great speed for such a heavy boat. I had to go out and clear the windows of rain from time to time as rain covered windows tends to restrict our view of what is out there. We saw a few whales in the distance but nothing any where near us.

We plan on being in Tracy Arm tomorrow and will make plans then to either go up the passage to the glaciers or continue on to Taku Harbor and then Juneau as it's over 60 miles to Juneau from Tracy Arm. By the time you read this, we will be in Juneau and will know what our decision was. We're surprised how few cruisers boats we have seen since leaving Ketchikan 5 days ago. Hardly a single one other than the two big power boat cruisers South of Wrangell Narrows.

Let's hope for better weather than what is forecast for the future. We've had some gorgeous weather up till now and would love some more, especially when we see the glaciers.

Days 411 & 412 Two for the price of one again!

That's right, that same great special you had a short while ago is back!!! Two for the price of one!!

We didn't leave for Deception Point Cove in Wrangell Narrows till 0900 so that our arrival would coincide with the change in tides and currents. While we were only going up the Narrows about 2 miles before we turned left into the cove, we didn't want to get blasted by out coming tide and current that can reach 3 knots or more. While we have plans to go tomorrow, we just wanted to be ready for the jump off early since we would be entering the Narrows at about 0400. Yeah, that's right--4:00AM! The "recommended" plan by the "experts" in the "know" is that you time your entrance to start at the last of the flood tide to propel the boat well up into the narrows so that once the flood stops, you get an additional push from the ebb as the narrows is a strange place that floods from both ends and ebbs both ways. Weird, huh?

On our way over to Deception Point Cove, we saw two big power cruising boats heading up into the Narrows at exactly the wrong time. They were going in as the flood tide was already over and the ebb had started so they would face fast nasty currents(at least for our boat) along the entire trek--21 miles. I though perhaps I was confused as to when to enter and what the currents were so I pulled up my program that shows the currents and the times and double checked. Yeah, I was right. They were going in at exactly the wrong time. At least they have the power to over come the pressure of the currents. It would kill us to face a 2 or 3 knot current. It would double or more our time of travel.

So into Deception Point Cove(56 32.536N 132 59.155W) by 1130 and dropped the hook. We got a bit concerned as there were two log booms anchored in the cove. They are logs about 4 times the diameter of a telephone pole that are chained to the bottom to hold "log booms"(big rafted up collections of logs ready for transit to the mill) for transit. Luckily, none appeared. Actually, no other boats joined us in the anchorage for the night. It blew most of the afternoon so the DuoGen was spinning nicely making lots of nice amps for our batteries. The day started out cloudy but turned nice and sunny by the time we anchored. It was a quick trip of 16.6 miles in just 2.5 hours. We caught the out going tides and got to over 7 knots most of the way. We were both really surprised at all the "muddy" water that surrounds us. It may be run off from the glaciers but it sure looks muddy to us.

Wrangell Narrows is supposed to be the "freeway" of the passage with lots of boats coming and going at all times. We saw the two power boat cruisers, several small fishing boats and the Alaskan state ferry about 2200 hours as it went South. That's about it. Not that much traffic that we could see.

I hooked up my IPod to our TV so we could watch a movie last night while at anchor. The batteries inverter(makes DC power into AC power) made the AC power for the TV and the IPod took care of the rest. We saw "The Mummy"(thanks Pat). A fun flick. The first movie we have seen in quite a while.

Day 412--Into the Narrows!!

Up at 0320 to be out in the Narrows by 0400. Amazingly, it was light at that hour of the day. It was like twilight. It keeps getting weirder up here as to the day light each day. As we left the cove, we heard a broadcast from a ship called Pacific Titan that they were about to enter the Narrows at the South end like us. I pulled up the computer to get information on our AIS system as to who and what was out there. Up comes this big tug boat that is coming up the Narrows at 10.5 knots hauling a barge behind them full of containers and machinery. Well our top speed, with the current assist, might get to 8 if we were lucky. I picked up the VHF radio and gave him a call. I think he was amazed that someone wanted to talk to him, especially since I had us switch to a "working" channel and off the emergency hailing channel(Coast Guard Auxiliary training pays off some times). I advised him who we were and where we were and that we were heading the same way. He advised us to pull over at the next cove and wait for him to pass. He even thanked me for the call!! I don't think anyone would want a setup like his coming up behind them on a tight narrows like Wrangell. Bigger always wins!!

We pulled over and waited for him to pass. As he was only about a mile behind us, it didn't take long for him to be gone. We cranked up the RPMs to 1750 and took off with the incoming current. It pushed us along nicely. We maxed out at 9.3 knots!!

The biggest problem we had as we transited the Narrows was the fishermen in their small boats. Dozens of them--all over the place. Mostly in the middle of the channel. Sitting, standing or lying down in their boats. They were everywhere and they didn't want to move. We just kept on coming and eventually, they got out of our way glaring at us the entire time. We dared to interrupt their fishing! Hey, like I said earlier--Bigger always wins!! I was amazed how many houses dot the shore line along the channel. There were houses all along the shore. The East side of the Narrows has a road beside it but not the West side. Their only way in is by boat. I have always imagined Alaska as being relatively deserted once you leave the cities. No so from what we have seen. Their have been houses and people in just about every place we have anchored since we got to Alaska.

As we approached Petersburg at the North end of the Narrows, I called the Harbormaster to see if there was any place to anchor so we could come ashore to play tourist. He told me I could anchor beside the old fuel dock(not the new one) just past the fish processing plant near the barge but not where the sea planes land and take off. Now if I lived in the area, that might make sense. All I had were some maps that don't say anything about old or new(fuel docks), nothing about fish processing plants let alone sea planes. We saw no boats at anchor so I went below and tried to get on the internet as we motored through town. I think it's called "war driving"(don't know why). I found a connection and Tracy took poor Zephyr back and forth in front of town, over and over till I could get everything done. We had a signal and then it was gone, Back and forth, on then off, over and over. I checked the emails and responded to some that needed it. Contacted our insurance company about the big hail storm so an adjuster can come out(the things you miss while boating). We just couldn't find a place to anchor from his directions so we didn't. We just hooked up to the internet and kept on traveling. Heck, it was only 0730 on a Sunday. Who the heck would be open anyway.

We took off into the Frederick Sound and headed North again. It was another 13 miles to Thomas Bay, our next port of call. As we entered, this time it was commercial fishing people that were all along the Sound and in front of us as we entered Thomas Bay and behind us too. As we headed in, we took a left turn and headed back to Baird Glacier at the North end of the bay, about 5 miles in. While it has receded from the water edge, there was still a lot of ice and snow to be seen. We couldn't get that close as there was a shoal coming our from the glacier made from the dirt from its run off. An amazing sight. It started to sprinkle so we took off for Ruth Island Cove(56 58.818N 132 48.982W)on the East side of the island. I put on my foul weather gear and dropped the hook. If we are heading into a dock, I take the wheel and Tracy does the fenders and dock line. If we are anchoring, she takes the wheel and I take the anchor. Works just fine for us.

Down went the anchor in 38 feet of water and I let out 120 feet of chain and Tracy powered Zephyr backwards to set the hook and we were all set. Nice and secure for tonight. It is still sprinkling and will continue for the rest of the afternoon if the forecasters are right(the Sun should be here any minute). It would be a lovely place if the the Sun would just come out.

I'd planned to change the engine oil this afternoon as it now had just over 100 hours on it and that is when the "professionals" recommend it be changed(original owners manual says 200). Unfortunately, the oil pump for sucking out the oil is in the storage area at the bow and since it is raining, it will just have to wait till tomorrow. I did change the oil in the diesel injector pump. It produced only 13 ounces again when it was drained so it's not getting too diluted by the diesel fuel as it passed through it. It's set for another 50 hours. I did it at 62 and it was just fine. Again, the "professionals" say to change it every 100 hours but my owners manual says 50. I'll err on the side of caution and do it as close to 50 as I can.

Well, Tracy is back taking a nap to catch up on the sleep she lost last night having to get up so early this morning. We left at 0400 and were in by 1230. We chalked off another 48.1 miles on the expedition North. At this rate, we expect to be in Tracy Arm in two days. We hope it is sunny so we can see the glaciers at their best. If not, we will probably just go on the Juneau and fill the tanks(water and diesel) and hit Costco for some more essentials. We still have plenty of food, but there are just some things that Costco has that we still need. I sure hope they are close to the docks. It could be a long hike with a cart to drag behind us. We'll then hit Tracy Arm on the way back and hope for the best. That's the reason we have traveled so far and we aren't going to miss it. We still plan on being back in Port Townsend by July 15 and that means few stops on the way to rest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 410 Off North again.

We took off this morning at 0700 after pulling up an anchor full of kelp. Nice green slimy stuff. We headed out into Clarence Strait and took a left. Well, sort of. We headed across to the East side of the strait. Last night I had finally managed to get the computer fully functional so we had not only AIS but also our GPS so all was well in the cockpit.

Shortly after leaving, we "saw" the Holland America Veendam heading South through Snow Passage at the North end of Clarence on our AIS. Our Automatic Identification System(just got it to work again) showed us the Veendam over 25 miles away. Much farther than our radar could have and it told us where she was and how fast she was heading South for Ketchikan. It also told us how close she would come to us and how soon. A great help to those of us that are in waters used by the big cruise lines. About 30 minutes later--Veendam hadn't even gotten to us we saw Celebrity Mercury headed the same direction. It was great having that kind of information right in front of us.

As we headed across Clarence Strait towards Lincoln Rock, we suddenly saw a lot of water flying up into the air. WHALES!!! At least two from what we could see. Tails splashing over and over. Flying into the air and crashing back into the water. It went on for over half an hour before they took off South. With luck, the Veendam got to see the same sight we saw, just no where near as close as we were. We were right at sea level and they are way up high. Veendam passed us about 30 minutes later. What an incredible sight to see the whales.

We pressed on into Stikine Strait and ran into current that wasn't supposed to be there. We had calculated our trip to run into a flood tide just as we entered the Strait. Instead, we got knocked down to 4.3 knots just as we had expected a 2.3 knot flood tide to kick us up to well over 7 knots. It was not to be. Apparently, the current from the Stikine River at the North side of the strait has such force that it over powers the effects of the flood tide.

As we continued Northeast up the strait, dolphins came by for a visit to play in the bow wake. Up and down in the water jumping right in front of Zephyr and over to the other side. Three or four of them. A short visit and they were off.

It pays to keep a close watch on the water in front of the boat. As we neared the end of todays trip, there was what looked from a distance a small island. There was no island on our charts--paper or electronic. As we got closer, we saw through binoculars that it was an entire floating tree heading South toward us. If we hadn't been keeping such a close watch, there was every chance we would have run into it. We try never to play chicken with "deadheads". Typically, they win and you sink if they're big enough.

At 1300 hours, we pulled into Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Islands East side(56 23.718N 132 38.271W). Last nights anchorage had people on shore in trailers. There were roads on Prince Of Wales Island right to our anchorage at Ratz Bay and the same thing tonight. A forestry dock and several small local fishing boats coming in and out all afternoon as well as a crab fisherman coming in to check his "catch". How can you call it "catching" when all the poor crab has to do is wander into a trap? No skill, just luck of where you place your traps. We saw him pull up one trap and keep only one crab and throw back a good half dozen. You can only keep the males(sexist pigs) and must throw back the females so they can make more baby crabs. Here is one time it doesn't pay to be a guy I guess. We went another 34.7 miles today and keep making our way farther North.

Tomorrow, over to the entrance to Wrangell Narrows. Strange that Wrangell Narrows doesn't take you to Wrangell. It takes you to Petersburg. Wrangell is on the mainland many miles East of us. We will be heading up the narrows on Sunday early morning. A departure of 0400 is planned so we make the last of the flood tide and will be where we need to be as the tide changes. Here is another reason to study the charts. Half way up the narrows, the tide and current changes. The narrows floods and ebbs both ways. It will flood in from the North and South end at the same time and then ebb the opposite when the tide changes. We have to be at a particular spot as the tide changes so we can "ride" the ebb tide North to complete the trip. The Narrows are 21 miles long and the tide switches 12 miles from the South end. WIth proper planning, we should be in Petersburg by 0700. Drop the hook and tour the town for an hour or so and then set off again. With luck, I'll find a wifi spot so I can get this and other posts posted.

Just 12 miles North of Petersburg is Ruth Island in Thomas Bay. My mother was named Ruth and my father was Thomas so where better to spend the night. It is supposed to have some great places to drop the hook. Well, another fisherman just came in to the harbor and tied up to the dock for the night. Busy place out here in the boonies.

Day 409 Ratz!

We were up early this morning to prepare for our trip Northwest from Ketchikan. We pulled in the dock lines and were on our way by 0555 this morning. The Sun now comes up at 0405--yeah, that's right--405AM!!! It doesn't set till after 2130!! That's over 17 hours of sunshine, or at least daylight every day and it's still getting longer. Soon, it will be light 24 hours a day up here.

As we left Ketchikan, we were greeted by Holland America Amsterdam as she came South in the channel. We of course were heading North. We just slowed down and let her pass(like there was a choice). We continued motoring(wind the wrong way again) out the Tongass Narrows into the Clarence Strait and continuing Northwest.

As I said last post, I got our AIS(Automatic Identification System) up and running finally yesterday so we fired up the computer and there were lots of ships on the screen, each sending out a signal as to who they were and where they were going. It also tells me their radio call sign if I need to contact them. It's a handy piece of equipment if you are cruising in waters with lots of big boats. You can see them 20+ miles away, long before they show up visually. Once in the Clarence Straits, we "saw" two more cruise liners coming South for Ketchikan on our AIS long before we could actually see them. We stayed well away from them giving them a wide berth. The Crystal Princess and another whose name I have forgotten. The radio stations in town make announcements as to who is coming in each day and how many people to expect. Today was five ships and over 8600 people!! The town swells for a few hours and then returns to its normal size of a nice sleepy town. It would have been interesting to see Ketchikan before the ships started coming in here. I'll bet she was a much different town.

A few hours out, the winds shifted and allowed us to hoist the sails and sail for a few hours. They only amounted to between 8 to 10 knots of wind but they were behind us and that was just fine. Up went the main and out came the Genoa. With the wind behind us, we tried to "wing and wing" the sails. This is when you have the main sail out one side and the genoa out the opposite side. This way, all the wind will hit the backs of both sails and drive your down the channel. The wind that hits the mainsail flows off and over onto the Genoa. Even in only 6 knots of wind, we were doing 4.5 up the channel. I lowered the DuoGen (makes electricity) into the water and let her rip. The winds got a bit flooky, so I finally pulled out the new spinnaker pole and hooked it to the end of the Genoa sheets(lines that control the sail)and the sail was set so it could no longer collapse if the winds shifted or lessened. It works just great. We had one made for us out of carbon fiber to keep the weight down. At 22 feet long, an aluminum pole would weigh in at well over 45 pounds. Ours comes in at just over 20 and while long, is much easier to handle. The pole fits in a fitting on the mast and then attaches to the sail. With the sails set, we pressed on--really quietly for a change.

We kept going downwind until the winds finally died to less than 2 knots and that is when we took it all down and restarted the engine for the rest of the trip. We'd planned on staying the night at Tolstoi Bay on Prince of Wales Island, but we were there before noon and it didn't feel right to stop so early so we pressed on. About an hour later, we saw what looked(through binoculars at least) to be a boat that had floundered. We changed course and headed over. It ended up being a refrigerator with its door open just floating down the channel. We recorded the longitude and latitude and I called it into the Coast Guard so they could send out a warning to mariners and perhaps send someone out to get it our of the shipping channels. It was a full size refrigerator. Probably fell(or was pushed) off some fishing boat. With all the foam insulation in it, there was no way it was going to sink.

At 1500, we dropped anchor in Ratz Harbor(55 53.230N 132 36.030W) on Prince of Wales Island.
A nice bay but with little protection from the North winds and that's exactly what we ended up having after we got the anchor down. They have been blowing anywhere from 8 to 15 knots. With the tide up, there is little protection from the winds. Once it goes out, we were finally enjoying a much less rolly anchorage.

I turned on the computer to see what the tides and currents will be doing tomorrow morning so we can plan our departure. The smartest time to leave is about 0900 but we we will probaly leave before then to get a jump on the next leg. We will face some current--1.5 knots-- for a while but then gain a flood tide later in the trip to help push us along. Hopefully, the wind will not be against us. The forecast is for a 40% chance of rain but not much wind. I guess we will see tomorrow.

We covered 48.6 miles today in 9 hours so we made pretty good time considering we sailed for 3 hours of it. Each day, we get closer to Juneau. At this rate, we should be there in just over a week.

Time for some shuteye. Morning comes early here anymore.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

out of order

The last post I posted is out of order so look below the day 407 for 408.  Oops!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 407 In to Ketckikan.

We now in Bar Harbor Marina(55 21.061N 131 41.065W)in Ketchikan.

We left Foggy Bay at 0830 this morning to make the in coming flood tide. The rest of the boats in our group left at 0630. Being power boats, they as affected by the currents as we are. They faced a 2.4 knot ebb tide as they headed out. By the time we left, the tide had gone to zero. Not coming in and not going out. It was about to turn in our favor and push us up the strait and that is exactly what it did. Instead of going just over 6 knots, we got up into the low 7's. Every little bit helps us move along. When we left, there was one boat left in the bay and he zipped past us a few hours later.

The ride up was pleasant with little wind. Of course what there was was straight at us. Heaven forbid us getting a wind that allows us to actually sail some where and save diesel. The waters were calm for most of the trip. There was little wind until we entered the Tongass Narrows where Ketchikan is located. Then it piped up to 20 knots. As we neared the entrance, White Sided Dolphins came by our boat and played with the bow wake for several minutes this afternoon. We've seen dolphins before in our trip, but never this close of for so long. Now that is one of the perks of cruising! One of the other boats that came in before us saw a whale this afternoon as they headed North.

We heard the Coast Guard calling different boats as we came nearer to Ketchikan. They were calling boats and sending one of their inflatables over to inspect different vessels. He asked one fishing boat for registration numbers and if he had his commercial fishing decal. He sort of hemmed and hawed and wasn't sure. He was then asked if he had ever been boarded by the Coast Guard for an inspection. "No, not in the last 20 years I've been out here" was his response. Today, he got boarded. As we neared the start of the narrows, we saw the ship and as we neared her, she passed our bow and circled around our stern and was coming right up behind us. We could see their inflatable talking to another boat off our bow. They eventually reversed course and when the inflatable caught up to them, they headed South.

I called the Harbor Master as we neared Bar Harbor for a slip assignment. He gave me good direction on how to come in and where to tie up. He controls all the ships in the harbor. As we passed down the Narrows, there were four cruise ships tied up to their dock. Princess, Norwegian, Holland-American, Silver Sea were all tied up. As we neared, the Norwegian Sun started coming out into the narrows right in front of us. Now how's that for great timing? The Holland American ship left just a few minutes after we got into the harbor. We squeezed right in between their departures.

Once tied up, I went up to use the pay phone to call US Customs. I put in my money and dialed. Once they picked up, they couldn't hear me. I added more money and they still couldn't hear me. They talked and I talked and eventually they hung up. I, of course, did not get my money back. As I left the booth, the Harbor Master was just coming out and let me use his cell phone. I gave customs all of our information and an agent was going to come and see us shortly to "officially" check up in. He showed us about 15 minutes later. A nice guy. Asked a few questions. Looked at our passports and that was that. We had been told by other boaters that you need to check in with customs at each port you entered along the Alaskan coast. Not so he told us unless you are a foreign flagged vessel. We were officially back in the USA.

Once that was done, we took off for the marina office to get checked in and find out the scoop about Ketchikan. Local restaurants, bus schedules, chandleries, grocery stores, etc we all on our list. We hiked dow the street a few blocks to Safeway for food and I looked for more corks to cram into the Webasto Heater exhaust port. If we took a big wave over the starboard side, water could flood down the port and destroy the heater. Not a piece of equipment I would want to replace. They aren't cheap.

Back to Zephyr with the food and then down to "Oceanview Restaurant for dinner. Great food and all we saw were locals eating there so we knew it was good. The marina manager had told us about it and said it was one of the best places in town. After dinner, we walked down to the where the cruise ships come in to see their docks. As we passed the local wharfs, there were a dozen bald eagles flying over the water like a flock of seagulls. Swooping and splashing in to the water trying to grab fish as the passed. We've never seen so many at one time. What fun!!

We've settled in for the night but made arrangements to go on a tour with the folks from Astarte. We ran into them as we were returning from dinner. I'll be making a side trip to the local Walmart for a few things and to several hardware stores and what ever chandleries I can find. We bought some more charts this afternoon while on the way to Safeway, but they didn't have them all. We also bought another cruising guide books as we only had one for South Alaska and that one doesn't tell us all the information we need as we head North. We already have another boater that will buy all the charts we have used after we return to Port Townsend. He gets a great deal and we get some of our money back for charts we will most likely never use again.

I'm still trying to work out my internet situation with Verizon. As of this afternoon, Ketchikan is the last place they have wifi and telephone service. I know I can get on line at McDonalds down the street so I'll probably go there to up load this post. As to the future of our blog, it could be several days between posting as internet is available only in the bigger cites like Petersburg, Juneau and Sitka. Have patience and I will get them posted as soon as I can. If I can find a place(this marina charges $3.95 hook up fee and $15.95 per day for service!!! Yeow!!) that has wifi, I will get this message out.

As always, there is more to come.

Day 408 The last for a while.

This will probably be the last post for a few days.  We don't expect to be able to connect again till we reach Petersburg in a few days.  We will be back in boonies again after we take off tomorrow for points North.

We took off this morning with our friends on Astarte to visit one of Ketchikans brothels.  It had closed many years ago but they have preserved it for the tourists(us).  In order to preserve it in it's original state, they have let the place go the a very sorry state.  Interesting to see but in very bad condition.

We located a replacement serial to USB device to help get my AIS(automatically identifies ships in our area)program back on line.  After a bunch of tinkering, I got it back up and running but lost the use of my GPS in the same program.  I've sent a message to Jeppesen that makes the program so I should hear back from them in a few days as to how to correct the problem.  They have been a big help getting everything configured in my computer.

The drill we use to make our winches electric broke a screw a while ago that holds the "chuck"in the drill.  I managed to find a dealer that carried the screw I needed so I bought two.  I've already had two break on us since we bought the drill back in 2008.  Now at least I will have a spare.  The drill we use is a Milwaukee 90 degree drill so we stick a special bit in it that will fit in the winches sos as the drill rotates, it makes the winch take in the line.  Lots less work for us and we can pull in line very fast using the drill.  Works great till the battery dies. 

Tracy did the laundry while I was running all over Ketchikan getting these errands done.  I'm sitting in McDonalds typing this post as my internet device doesn't work here.  

As to the picture of Blue, one of our furr people, she was just resting on top of the dodger under the mainsail enjoying the breeze.  She goes where the other kids won't.  NO fear!!  Thank goodness we have nets around the edge of the boat.  It's the only thing keeping her on board some times.

Well, I have to get back to Zephyr and get ready to take off tomorrow for points North.  I'll try and post more as soon as we get back to civilization.  Stay tuned.  There's more to come as we head North towards the glaciers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 406/66 Back in the good old USA!!!

Well, this is day 406 and day 66 since we left Port Townsend and we are back in the USA!!!

We've gone 1058 miles to get here in 66 days so that works out to just 16 miles per day. You could walk faster. Doesn't seem like much does it? It may not be, but it sure has been a lot of fun to do it. Yeah, a cruise ship would have been cheaper and easier, but there is no way we would have learned what we have learned on this trip without taking it. We are far more in tune with Zephyr and all her sounds and needs. We know more about what is important while cruising. OK, yeah I hit the dock coming in yesterday--not bad but the worst so far. I got nailed by a sudden change in wind and current and it just up and threw us against the dock. I almost swept the starboard side of our outboard, crane and barbecue trying to get past another boat as we came in, but I knew that if I had engaged the reverse gears to slow us down, the starboard prop walk would have taken us right into him. So we make the best of it and just hit the dock with a glancing blow. There was help on the dock, but you don't stop Zephyr with just a hand. She's a heavy boat and doesn't stop easily. Well, no harm, no foul.

We left Prince Rupert at 0455 this morning since the weather forecast was as perfect as one can hope for. Just about dead calm--both with wind and seas. There was the hint in the forecast of 10-15 knot winds so we took the sail cover off in hopes of hoisting the main, but the winds never materialized. That's what they make diesel engines for.

All told, there were four of us in this crossing. Astarte, Nightfall, Aye Aye Sir, and us. These are the four boats that were all in Codville Lagoon back on May 29 that all went to Aye Aye Sir to celebrate Russ's birthday. We keep running into each other every so often. When we put into Prince Rupert yesterday, Astarte came in with us and Nightfall and Aye Aye Sir were already there. WIth the weather so close to perfect, we all ended up making the crossing of Dixon Entrance together. Dixon Entrance has a reputation of being a bear to cross so we got lucky. Not only in weather but also in getting someone to replace our lost zinc on a Sunday.

The seas were flat and the winds were just about calm so we averaged over 6.5 knots and did our 53.6 miles and dropped anchor by 1300 hours. We thought it would take much longer, but with the correct tides and current flows, we made great time. Aye Aye Sir(the biggest) got here first, followed by Astarte and Nightfall. We weren't that far behind.

Since we have already started the check in procedures with US Customs(called them yesterday in Ketchikan from Prince Rupert)to come back into the USA, I took down the Canadian courtesy flag that all foreign boats must fly while in another country. We'll need it again for the return trip. Having made the call to US Customs, we can stay the night in Foggy Bay(54 56.969N 130 56.364W)and then MUST go to Ketchikan tomorrow to complete the checkin procedure. If you don't, apparently they(US Customs) get a bit huffy and make it much harder to check in. The only reason they allow boats to spend a night in Foggy Bay is that it is to far to travel from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan in one day. From what we have heard from other boaters as we go up the coast, we have to check in with US Customs at every larger town we stop in. Once is apparently not enough. It will be interesting to see what they take off the boat as not being allowed back in the US even if you have receipts showing you bought it in the US and just had it on board for the trip through Canada. We know fresh veggies are on the hit list so we bought sparingly while in Prince Rupert at the local Safeway store.

When I called US Customs from a pay phone at the Visitors Bureau in Prince Rupert, I followed the instructions on the pay phone to dial 0 then 1 and then the number. I was advised by an automated voice that I could not complete the call since it was made to a "non-approved area" or some such jargon. I was forwarded to an operator that asked where I was calling. After I said the US, she told me I had dialed in the area code for Turkey!! That will teach me to follow instructions on a pay phone. No wonder it wouldn't go through.

We filled our water tanks late yesterday as one of the final things to do before we left. We were down about 5 inches in the tanks. That's about 1/3 of our supply. We made sure to take our showers before we filled them. At a $1.00 for two minutes at the marina's showers, taking them on board made a lot more sense to us. Our diesel supply is just fine and will probably hold till Juneau at the rate we are using it.

I checked the "raw water" strainer this evening. It filters the water that is sucked in through a through hull that passes through the engine and keeps it cool. It's the same water that then shoots out the stern exhaust pipe. We have been going through a good bit of flotsam(crud in the water) as we pass through the water and it needs to be checked regularly. If it gets clogged, the engine could over heat and that could cause other problems. Always safer to do the routine maintenance than to have to do the bigger jobs later.

I hope everyone enjoyed the photos I posted last night. Being on line on someone else's wifi access makes it much easier and faster to up load them. Plus, I'm limited in how much data I can upload and download. I only get 5 gigs per month. Tomorrow, I'll be calling Verizon to see if they have the internet data service from here North and if so, what it will take to get me back on it while in the US. I'll have to switch back to the Canadian I've been using over this past month when we get back to Prince Rupert. While there is cell phone service(new this year!!)in Prince Rupert, I could never get my phone to work. I had four bars but there was just no connection. Oh well, maybe next time.

Have a good week everyone. There's more to come!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


We start in Codville Lagoon and then take a hike to Sagar Lake.  The "trail" is more of an improved creek bed than a trail.

As you cans see, the water is a golden shade of brown from the cedar trees that surround the lake.  Then of course there is BLue taking a nap on the cockpit roof.   Boats we see come in all sizes but this one is one of the biggest we have seen.
Below the big ship is Bottleneck Inlet just North of Klemtu.
A typical BC Ferry that plies these waters.  Next, on to Bishop Bay hot springs.  A delightful place to spend a couple of days.  A small bath tub with a sock rolled up that clogs the drain so you can have fresh water to an inside pool that is nice and hot or go into the outdoor pool.  On to Verney Passage with it rock walls and dozens of water falls and mud slides.

The moon rise in East Inlet along the Grenville Channel.
Fog settling in to Kelp Passage Cove. 
And finally, an eagle sitting on top of our mast at Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club.
Remember, if you click on any photo, they get much larger for better viewing.
Tomorrow, off for Foggy Cove and back to the USA.