Monday, August 31, 2015

Heading South for Mexico (Baranof Warm Springs to Bellingham) August 2015

Our travels with Antipodes have come to an end as we parted ways at Baranof Warm Springs. WORKNOT is hiding ahead of Antipodes behind another Nordhavn who was visiting the hot springs as well.   Traveling with Randy, Nancy and Adam added a lot to our northern experience and we will miss the daily interaction and fishing tips.   For more on Randy's "fish whisperer" reputation see his Facebook page-Randy Sysol.

 Magical little spot with natural hot springs and a few community tubs overlooking the waterfall.   Relaxing is an understatement.

   The community as a couple of hot tubs located near the falls. The picture above was taken from the hot tub.  There is a continuous flow of hot water into the tub and it overflows to the water below.  Simple but soothing.

We made our way back the way we came, Petersberg, Wrangell, Meyers Chuck (another load of cinnamon buns), Ketchikan, Foggy Bay, Prince Rupert (re-entering BC).  The trip back to British Columbia, was just as much fun as the trip north but since we had been to most places much less stressful.  This bodes well for returning next year.  

Weather was very good, light winds, sunny and favorable currents for the most part.  Caught a few more salmon and lost a few more as we still struggle getting them onto the deck.

Anchored at Sea Otter anchorage just outside of Queen Charlotte Sound.  Shared the anchorage with a GB 42 and had a peaceful evening. 

 We needed it as we moved to the sound it was mid afternoon and winds were picking up.  

This barge was headed upwind (North) and having a rough go in Queen Charlotte Strait.

The tug and its tow..

There are other ways to get back south, these fishing boats were riding high on a southbound barge-

This was the first time we had been in rough water for weeks and a reminder that all boats are small.  5'-8' steep wind waves on the beam put WORKNOT to work.  Wind picked up to 25 kt gusts and a Gale warning for tomorrows destination in Johnstone Strait.  (This is the passage we waited a week to make going north).   

Blunden Harbor was a welcome relief and once again the crabbing paid off.  With an overnight soak we had 8 crabs to choose from for lunch and dinner.  

Johnstone Strait was forecast to have Gale warnings for the next 3 days while we were sitting just 16 miles north in calm conditions.  We picked the best window to time our entrance to Johnstone Strait with a favorable current running with the wind.  Our reward was a fast but breezy trip to Turn Island.  We made it behind the island just as the current tuned into the wind and found a good anchorage just about an hour north of Seymour Narrows.   This was our fist passage thru the famous narrows where currents can reach 10 kts or better (that exceeds our top speed).  Timing worked well and we enjoyed about a 2 kt push toward Comox.  

We skipped Comox going north so we wanted to visit.  Worthwhile stop with very friendly harbor and nice downtown area within an easy walk from the transient dock.  This upscale town is a favorite of folks from Vancouver and a retirement community served by ferry.  Weather was warm and sunny but the snow plow markers on the fire hydrants are a reminder that its not always that way.    We will keep moving south and follow the sun.

Out trip took us to Nanaimo where we berthed with the big boys at the main harbor.  Celebrated Mary's birthday with dinner on the docks and enjoyed our last days in BC.  From the "its a small world" bucket, one of the larger boats (100'+ Benetti) was towing a 36' Intrepid as a fish boat.  We saw the Intrepid being painted at Baja Naval while WORKNOT was being painted this spring.

Clearing Customs at Roche Harbor on a Sunday was interesting, the customs dock is at least 200' long and staffed to make entry easy.  We arrived just as another Nordhavn, Mary Pearl N43 was checking in.  Got to meet Dave the owner in person after sharing information on the Nordhavn Owners website.  The Customs agent had worked in San Diego and has family in Las Vegas.  Glad I could answer her questions on both cities as we cleared into the US in record time.  

Made our way to Bellingham to visit our friends Julie and Dennis (Seafox N55) from the last FUBAR trip to Mexico.  Great hospitality with them and scored a slip at the Bellingham Yacht Club.  It was tight but workable.   Glad we were able to enter and exit with no wind.  Yes, the boats in front and astern were there when we arrived.  

Our trip to the PNW is about to end as we wait for a weather window to head back to Mexico in time for the CUBAR 2015 Rally to La Paz.   Mary and I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to explore, discover and take in all the water has to offer.  Knowing we are just getting started makes everyday a new adventure.   We met so many friendly, happy and knowledgeable people along the way.  Planning is never wise when cruising but we do PLAN to return next year to see a little more of what we missed.   

Have not added up all the miles and fuel used.  Its nearly a thousand miles of waterway to get from Sitka to Bellingham.  We burned about 550 gallons of fuel running with the current and slowly. (1400 rpm/7.5 kts most of the way)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Glacier Bay and Sitka Alaska 8/3/15

Glacier Bay has been the highlight of an incredible trip.  Tom caught a video as we were trying to transfer Adam from Antipodes (discussed in previous blog).   It sets the mood as we watched Mother Nature perform with sunshine, icebergs, calving glaciers and stunning colors.  Working on getting it so I can post on my next blog.

On our way out of the park the currents were against us and the trip took longer than expected.  WORKNOT got slowed to 1.4 kts and Antipodes got stalled out.  They are almost as fast as WORKNOT, have the same engine but were about half an hour behind us, meaning they got more exposure to peak flood current.  Randy gave up and returned to Bergie Bay to wait out slack water. 

  We continued to the Glacier Bay Park Lodge for lunch with the Kramer family.  Our server was from West Virginia, a student working for the summer for the Park Service.  She was right at home in the Alaskan rain forest.  Much better job than my summer work as a wrench while in college.

This is “Snow” a whale sadly struck by a cruise ship and killed in Glacier Bay.  The size of the skeleton is just awe inspiring.  These magnificent creatures move so gracefully it hard to believe.


We enjoyed a peaceful anchorage at Inian and Kimshaw coves.  Rain and then showers.  Getting to understand the difference.   The channels were narrow and plenty of rocks but worth the effort.   Fresh salmon and halibut for dinner and plenty of new scenery.    It just keeps impressing the whole crew.

Sitka was our next stop.  Berthed at the municipal marina there was a mixture of fishing boats, charter boats and few yachts.  This beauty will be joining us on CUBAR trip to Mexico in November.  Tango is Nordhavn 76 that has been on both US coasts and South America.  Maybe I quit work too soon???

Sitka has a very small town feel to it, even with a cruise ship or two in port it was different than the other towns they dominate.  Highlights include the Raptor Sanctuary, the culture center and marine touch pool.   

A few of the birds being saved/rehabilitated by the center.   

Tom, Fiona and the boys boarded a ferry for the trip home to Vancouver leaving WORKNOT quiet and a bit lonely after a great week of travel.  We retraced our route back north to the Lisianski canal and then headed east.  The weather was warm and sunny so fishing became the plan for the day. 
Salmon were jumping everywhere but we had a hard time getting them to the boat.  After a few adjustments we started catching smaller fish and Mary caught two fish on a single bait.  The “mooch” rig has two hooks and she had a fish on each at the same time.   

Next up the whale show and it was another great performance.  We were watching them bubble feed
 from a safe distance when then dove and surfaced close by.  They all started toward us at the same time.   They moved so quickly there was no time to escape.   We sat motionless as they dove under us and moved on paying little to no attention to WORKNOT

Six whales in total got very close to us without a care in the world (for them)

Randy got this shot from Antipodes....

Our last few days have been a variety of fishing, whale watching and enjoying the sunshine of Alaska.  Quiet anchorages along with the hospitality of Sitka have made this a special week to share with friends.

Our journey back to Mexico begins here as we will soon part company with Antipodes and move along quickly to reach the Washington coast by the end of the month.

Keela wondering what is so special about a whale?????? 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hoonah and Glacier Bay…..7-28-15

Moving closer to Glacier Bay we stopped in Hoonah, a small 900 person town and home to the largest Tlingit settlement in Southeast Alaska.  It is now on the cruise ship circuit and construction of large dock and shore facility is underway.  We docked at the municipal harbor and found the harbor master friendly and gracious.  Mostly a commercial fishing port, they made room for us and treated us very well.   She took time to explain the map of her city and hand write her favorite spots for us.  The harbormaster dog and Keela got along fine in the office.  

 The town is carving the interior columns and display wall for a new community Tlingit house in Glacier Bay.  All of the work is being done by hand with no power tools touching the wood.  This is a todem about 25 feet long and well over 2 feet in diameter.   The wall behind him is all carved from a single tree.  

We got the “Cruise Ship Special” treatment at a small local restaurant, sausage-eggs-toast $19.95.   I’m sure the locals have another menu as just can’t see a fisherman paying $20 bucks for breakfast and $2.50 for coffee.  

Time had come to change the oil in our genset and get a sample sent off for analysis.  Also took time to change our 24V alternator that takes care of engine start, bow thruster and windlass batteries.  Carry a spare and even though it has the same part number on the box it was a bit different.  After borrowing a torque wrench from a fishboat to remove the pulley nut had to go the library to download enough tech data to apply the replacement alternator.  For the gear heads the new alt was isolated ground and the old one was frame grounded.   Very small difference in the appearance. 
Back underway we headed for Glacier Bay to rendezvous with the Kramer family.  Friends of ours for years we visited them in Vancouver on the way north.  Tom, Fiona and their two kids Aiden and Tiege (10 & 8) joined us for the trip to the glaciers.  WORKNOT has not been that noisy for a long time.  

The kids found a kindred soul in Adam of Antipodes and they played video games and hung out for the next week. 

After an orientation at the ranger station we were cleared to head up into the Glacier Bay National Park.  Passing the narrows at slack tide by luck rather than planning we were greeted by dozens of whales spouting in all directions.   The kids had a blast counting whales and trying to identify the type. 

Our first glacier viewing was at Reid Inlet where we were able to beach a dinghy and walk ashore to tour the area where the glacier melt runs into the water.   Randy took and extended hike and found his dinghy high and dry on return.  He managed to drag it about 50’ back into the water with the help of his crew.  All this occurred in less than 2 hours of shore time.   Notice WORKNOT dinghy FLOATING in the background.

Next morning both boats headed to Johns Hopkins glacier.   This is a true tidal glacier which is calving into the bay at 10-15’ per day.  About every 5-10 minutes you can hear the glacier creaking and growling as stress are relieved and new ones compressed.  

We pushed thru the ice and got to within about ¼ mile of the face.  It took about half an hour to go a few miles but it was worth the effort. 

Things were pretty calm and we decided to transfer Adam to our boat for some kid time.   Twice we had the boats lined up in calm water for the transfer and the glacier calved aggressively.   The first one sent a 3-4 foot wave across the bay and we had to move the boats apart to prevent damage.   Second calving happened just as we got lined up again.   We need Adam to keep going from boat to boat.

This arm of the park does not allow cruise ships to enter the inlet and they “see” the glacier face from about 4 miles away.  Our view was much better!  Only 25 boats a day are allowed in the park and cruise ships count as a boat.   We are very fortunate indeed to get the opportunity. 

Our glacier viewing was not over as we went to Tarr Inlet and viewed the Margerie glacier and the Grand Pacific glacier.

Have many more pics of the Glacier Bay trip but the connection here in Sitka is slow.   No box score as we messed around in Glacier Bay for 4 days with lots of idle time and return trips.   

If you get the chance to come up to this amazing place do it!!!