July 16-July 29, 2004
Sitka to Seward; 726 nautical miles
(1756 miles from
by Ray R. Collins, Master
Previoius logbook: Ketchikan
Friday, July 16. Sunny-partly cloudy. Sitka to
Bay. Winds SE to SW at ~10. 25 miles.
It was a busy morning, getting ready to leave. Since this
was our last stocking port before crossing the gulf, we needed to
replenish our fresh food, change the oil, pay the harbormaster and
On our way up the dock we passed the Freya. They were working
their boat, and we stopped by for a chat. We borrowed a
lifejacket for Richie (he had been in the stroller) and turned him
loose to play with their daughter and some other kids.
Over an hour later we continued on our way up to the hill. We
planned breakfast at McDonald's, but they were serving lunch by the
time we got there so we had lunch instead. After eatting we
bought the few groceries we needed and stopped by the harbormaster's
office to settle our bill.
I'd started the oil change before we left the boat, and finished it
soon as we got back (the drain system is very
slow, so it takes quite awhile to drain all the oil out).
we were ready to leave out slip and get fuel, and then, at last, we
motored out of the harbor.
We knew we weren't going to make it very far, so we picked a nice
about 25 miles out of Sitka as a destination for the day.
was tired, so she lay down while I headed across Sitka Sound.
Then we went down the narrow and rock-filled (but well marked--this
a popular route) Olga Strait, then down Neva Strait and out into
We got to our destination, Kalinin Bay, a little early, but the next
reasonable place to stop was quite aways and we didn't think we
make it by dark. Besides, Kalinin Bay is an extremely well
protected anchorage, with tall mountains all the way around
It was already occupied by several other boats and by bedtime there
were 7 including us.
Saturday, July 17. Misting showers-mostly cloudy.
Kalinin Bay to Pelican. Winds SSE at 8. 56
miles. Barometer 29.75
I was up a little after 7 and by 0730 the anchor was in and we were
under way. The exposed rockes at low tide showed just how bad
eastern half of the passage was--glad the Coastal Pilot and charts
showed the rocks so I could avoid them! Even so I kept my
down until well clear of the Bay; didn't want to be the one to
There were frequent rain-er, mist-showers, which often reduced
visibility to less than 1/4 mile, so shortly after getting out in
ocean I got out the GPS and programmed it to keep us well off the
extremely rocky coast.
The waves were 3' rollers coming from the SW. The wind was a
tailwind and the tides were against us. All in all we averaged
6.5-7 knots up the coast.
Frankie felt a little queasy and Richie threw up, but by early
afternoon they were both fine.
The chart showed nasty rocks off the entrance to Lisianski Strait,
was nervous about approaching it. I programmmed the GPS with a
course that would keep us barely free, but only if it was 100%
accurate. Turned out I needn't have worried; the rocks shown
the chart were all well exposed to the SE of my course, and fairly
exposed (though perhaps they wouldn't be at very high tides) to the
NW. Once in the Strait it was easy--wide and deep except for a
couple well marked places.
Pelican is just a few miles down Lisianski Inlet from where
Strait intersects it so we were there by 1630. We tried to
the harbormaster, but got no reply. Fortunately a friendly
fisherman directed us to a vacant dock we could tie up at.
Our primary reason for stopping was to make phone calls.
called her folks and then I called mine. After we were done we
walked the length of downtown Pelican. Main street was just a
boardwalk on pilings--too narrow for all but the smallest car!
Indeed, we didn't see any cars, just golf carts!
After dinner we spent the rest of the evening reading, going to
at 2200 when it started to get dark.
Sunday, July 18. Pelican into the Gulf of AK. 112nm
One of the reasons we stopped was to activat the satellite phone,
but I realized shortly after getting up at 7am that it was Sunday
don't have much reason to keep track of the days, cruising around
this). so I went up to the harbormaster office and dropped off a
for $12 harbor fee, returned to the boat and untied. After getting
underway I prepared the boat for sea, though we planned to spend the
night in Lituya Boay we would be out in the Gulf of AK most of the
So I checked to hatches, stuffed the anchor rope in its hole, stowed
the fenders and dock lines, and made sure there wasn't anything left
loose on the deck.
By 10 we were exiting Cross Sound. there was a little bit of wind so
had the sails up, though by the time we were out in the Gulf of AK
had died completely.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, no wind and 3 foot rollers from the SW.
Frankie looked at me and said, "Let's go straight across!" So we
verified the weather forecast was still good, called mom on the cell
phone (luckily it was within range) and headed west into the wide,
We set up a watch shift: Frankie 10am-2pm, Ray 2-6pm, Frankie
Ray 10pm-4am, Frankie 4-7am, Ray 7-10am. This worked extremely
well for us. Whoever was on watch usually kept an eye on Rishie as
so the person who was off could sleep or rest.
The day passed uneventfully, with no wind and glassy 2-4 foot
from SE & SW. I didn't manage to get much sleep during my off
but I got a fair amount of rest so I'd be able to stay up to 4am.
Richie was really wired at bedtime and since I was up anyhow he
out with me until nearly 2am! We sat on the seat together with a
blanket over us and watched the sunset fade and the stars come out.
are now far enough north so the sunset never really vanished; there
always light on the horizon.
Monday, July 19. Gulf of AK. Partly sunny. Barometer
As the night wore on I got sleepier and sleepier. Fortunately, the
steering could take care of itself pretty well, allowing me to take
minute catnaps. At 4am I got Frankie up and went ot bed, sleeping
a log until 7am.
The day was a peaceful one, excluding the drone of the engine.
the afternoon there was a 5-7 kt crosswind for a couple of hours,
allowing us to motor-sail for awhile. Not enough wind to do a lot of
good, but added 1-2 kts to our speed.
We were navigating primarily by GPS which was powered by rechargable
batteries, the Weather was good enough so we really didn't need it-
were parralleling the coast about 30-50 miles out and the snowy
were clearly visible. But the GPS kept us from wandering too much so
used it. At the end of my shift at 6pm Frankie got up and piloted
I made tuna casserole for dinner, before taking a good nap so I'd be
fresh for my 10pm-4am shift.
Wee were about 20 miles short of Kayak Island when I took over at
By 11 I could see the flashing light (8sec) of the lighthouse, but
couldn't see the bouy marking the rocks south of the end of
Someday I'd like to come back and spend some time poking around the
island. Great cliffs adorn the south end, and it is such an off long
narrow sliver of land sticking out into the Fulf of AK, I'm sure it
must be a slice of accreted terraine. But why such a long, thin
Where did it come from? Is the geology related at all the the main
land? How recently did it run into AK, and is it firmly stuck or is
still slipping up the coast?
Again Richie wanted to stay up, so we sat together and watched the
stars come out and made comments on the lighthouse, airplanes that
over, etc. It wasn't quite as late (0030) when he was finally tired
enough to go to bed.
Tuesday, July 20. Gulf of AK (Kayak Is.) to Cordova. Partly
rain showers. Barometer 29.8. 87 nm
As I continued my shift on into the early morning hours we passed
south of Kayak Island and headed across the Copper River mouth. The
clouds moved in but it remained calm with 2-3 foot gentle rollers
the south. I never did see the bouy; probably I was too far south
it was over the horizon from me.
By 4am I was pretty sleepy in spots of multiple tiny naps at the
so I was glad to get Frankie up and tumble into bed. She got me up
again at 7. Shortly thereafter the engine sputtered-I shut it down
quickly; didn't want to get an airlock for we were out of fuel.
I had a 30 gallon drum of fuel we'd bought in Seattle and now was
time to use it. I put the shammy cloth I'd bought in Petersburg on
funnel, pumped 5 gallons into a 5 gallon can and filled the funnel.
drained slowly. Diesel is thicken than gas and so it flowed through
shammy very, very slowly. After a few gallons, poured 3 cups at a
I got out the fishing pole. Two casts, fill 3 cups, 2 casts, etc...
Over an hour later I'd transfered 15 gallons- and had 3 fish.
I had no idea what kind of fish they were, but they looked nice so I
cleaned them and Frankie baked them for brunch. They had tender
meat and were about a foot long. Turned out to be less than
We each managed to eat about half a fish. Wonder what kind they
Have to get a book and find out.
It was early afternoon when we got to Strawberry Channel. Even
the wavers weren't very big (2-3ft) they were breaking in the
The Coast Pilot doesn't remomend using th echannel without local
knowledge. I've been through it two other times, the most recent was
last summer. But this was the first time going in from the Gulf- and
was very hard to see where the channel (which shifts every year) was
looking down the breakers. So I got the depth finder set up and
followed a fishing boat. Local knowledge- just not on our boat!
He followed a course paralled Egg Island until he was very close to
Hinchenbrook Island then turned parallel to the shore. It get very
shallow- 6ft but we managed to follow him. By the time we got to the
area he had turned right he was long gone but another fishing boat
comming up behing us, so we slowed to let him pass then sped up to
maximum cruise (2700rpm) to follow him. He went down behind Egg
and then we were in the marked channel and could slow down and
A little over an hour later we were in Cordova. We walked up to the
harbormaster office to check in, stopped by the grocery store to get
some muffins that Frankie had been craving and then went back to the
boat and took a nap.
Wednesday, July 21. Cordova. Rain showers. Barometer
We slept in but still didn't feel like doing much. "Jet lag" from
odd sleeping pattern at sea. So we spent the day reading, with a
of brief trips from the boat the eat out. Lunch was only fair, but
dinner we went to a pizza joint and had a really great pizza. It was
sprinkling when we ate dinner and turned to rain at bedtime.
Thursday, July 22. Cordova. Rain & wind. Barometer 29.74.
When we got up it was raining and by early afternoon the wind was
howling. We took the opportunity to goof off for a second day. It
letting up by early evening so we went for a walk and made some
calls. We called Laura and Tamer, finding out they were going to be
Anchorage on Friday. We invited them to go sailing on Saturday,
they enthusiastically agreed.
We struck up a conversation with a woman whod been phoning and wound
inviting her down to see the boat (she'd been living on a sailboat
a few years). We talked for several hours over hot cocoa.
Friday, July 23, Cordove to Whittier: 92nm. Showers/sunny.
I got up a little before 8 and went up to the harbormaster to pay
bill. then I stopped at the grocery store to pick up 3 loaves of
By 830 we were motoring out of the harbor.
Whittier is at the far western side of Prince William Sound.
there were a few light showers in the morning by mid-afternoon it
turned into a terrific sunny day. The forecast had been for some
up to a small craft advisory (25mph) in Valdez Arm but we saw
During the day there was only once when we had enough wind to put up
the sails, and even then it wasn't worth shutting off the engine.
We went through the Naked Island group- a very pretty group of
and into Passage Canal. As we were getting close to Whittier we
started looking for a place to stay. It was dead calm so we thought
we'd anchor off a delta a couple miles from Whittier. It didn't
150 feet from the delta it was still 100 feet deep. Ah-ha! Emerald
Cove. The Coastal Pilot said you could anchor there in 2-3 fathoms.
was a narrow little crack int eh rocks, about 70 feet wide with rock
walls 15 feet high. But the water was only 10 feet deep with no room
swing and not enough water to float us at low tide anyhow. So we
carefully turned around and went to look for another anchoring area
mentioned in the Coastal Pilot. It was for anchoring big ships, and
proved to be too deep- with 300 feet on anchor rode the most water
can anchor in with the recommended 7:1 scope is about 45 feet. So we
went on into Whittier to see if there was a place to tie up in their
usually very crowded harbor. The fuel dock had a spot and we needed
fuel so we tied up there for the night.
Saturday, July 24. Whittier local 45 nm. Partly sunny. N
variable to 8. Barometer 29.72
The fuel dock opened at 8 am, and we fueled up and then moved the
over to the floating sea wall, which had a spot for us. Then
took the dingy over to the dock and walked up to the harbormaster's
office. They said it would be ok to wait on the sea wall until
the Smyths arrived. We walked uptown and got breakfast, and
walked to the end of the road. There was a plack talking about
the railroad extension built during World War II to make Whittier
the "secret port" for the war effort.
We got back to the boat about noon, and an hour or so later Laura
called us, saying they were at the harbormaster's office. I
jumped in the dingy and rowed over to the dock. I walked up
met Tamer & Laura, their 3 kids and a friend of theirs
(Rachael). I took Tamer, Rachael and one of the kids over to
boat and then Tamer went back for Laura.
As soon as everyone was on the boat we untied and motored off.
Half an hour later the wind came up and we hoisted the sails and
off the engine for a very pleasant 45 minutes of sailing. The
wind died away and left us becalmed, so we decided to motor up
We got far enough up College Fiord to find a couple of ice bergs
we had to turn around and go back to Whittier. By the time we
back it was 10:30, and the tunnel shut at 11 so we walked them back
the van and said goodby.
We were parked at the fuel dock again, and decided to stay there and
then leave early the next morning before it opened.
Sunday, July 25. Whittier to Jackpot Bay 92 nm. Showers/
partly sunny. N-NE wind to 15. Barometer 29.7
I got up at 7:30 to be sure and be clear of the fuel dock before it
opened. There were a few showers around as I motored down
Canal. The wind kind of came and went, and by the time Frankie
got up I'd already had the jib and mizzen sails up and down 3
times. Shortly after she got up the wind settled down to a
nice steady 12-15 mph from the NE so we hoisted all three sails and
turned off the motor. We managed to get a good 2 hours of very
nice sailing before the wind abruptly quit, leaving us
We averaged 8 knots, so we covered a good bit of the way under sail.
Shortly after the wind quit we turned down Dangerous Passage.
Frankie went foreward and watched for rocks in a couple of the worst
places; the passage looked ok on the chart, but there were several
ledges extending out and I wanted to make sure we missed them.
When we turned into Jackpot Bay Frankie watched for rocks again, and
got all the way back into the small, very well protected cove in the
corner of the bay without any problem.
I had planned to anchor in the middle of the almost lake-like cove,
the water in the center of the cove was nearly 200 feet deep!
wandered around looking for a place that was shallow enough to
and finally decided on the NW corner of the cove. After
the anchor and 200 feet of line we backed up to set the
It didn't set. So we left it like that, with the alarm set on
depth finder so it would warn us if we drifted. Which we did;
dragging the anchor parrallel to the shore until we had gone from
NW corner to the NE corner by late evening. We finally
so we decided to try leaving it like that for the night.
Monday, July 26. Jackpot Bay. Rain & wind.
We survived the night with our un-set anchor, but we got up the next
morning to wind and rain. We had planned on staying here and
exploring with the dingy, but instead we just spent the day working
the computer (getting this logbook updated, among other things),
reading and listening to the rain on the roof.
The wind came up and the anchor started dragging again in the mid
afternoon. So I pulled it in and motored across the cove to
other side, where the wind wasn't getting to the water very
I anchored in 75 feet of water, which was a little too deep for my
feet of anchor line, but I couldn't get any closer to shore without
being within 300 feet so that was what I had to do. Again we
the depth finder on with the anchor alarm set. Fortunately the
anchor held against the occasional gust that got down to us.
We spent the evening watching a Babylon 5 (SF) video.
Tuesday, July 27. Jackpot Bay. Rain. Barometer
Another rainy day. We spent most of the day reading. I
tried a little fishing, but no luck. We ran the engine a
bit (an hour) to warm up the boat and recharge the battery. In
the afternoon we caught up on the logbook, getting it all typed into
the computer. We also counted our food and figured out what
need to buy to stock the boat for Hawaii. We are doing very
on food; at least 1/3 of what we'd bought in Seattle was left.
only need a few perishables and things we didn't origionally stock.
While counting our food we found a few (5) potatoes that had gone
they had been cut before being bagged. Pretty good for nearly
months old! Nothing like having a nice cool place to store
Wednesday, July 28. Jackpot Bay-Seward. Rain-sunny
spots. 67 nm. Barometer 29.6
We hoisted anchor about 8:30. With some difficulty; the rope
wound around some boulders or something on the bottom and I had to
the engine to pull it free. And then, of course, it was 75
deep so it took awhile to hoist the 110 pounds of anchor and chain
I took it very slow going out, for the depth finder was just
on a pole and when the speed exceeded 2 knots it twisted so it
working. (Frankie was still asleep, so she couldn't watch for
rocks like we'd done on the way in.) But there wasn't any
problem, and once clear of the "secret" cove I pulled it in and we
There was pretty steady rain when we left, but it tapered off slowly
we left Jackpot Bay behind. Chenenga glacier had been calving,
for there was a lot of ice I had to pick my way through.
over toward the glacier the water looked white, with lots and lots
ice. Fortunately there was very little across my path, so it
easy to avoid.
We turned down Bainbridge Passage, careful to avoid the rocky areas
the chart. We didn't see any of the rocks except the one at
far southern end of the passage, for it was high tide. There
a few rollers once out in Port Bainbridge, but they weren't too bad
(3-5 feet). The rain showers picked back up, some of them
heavy, as we headed west down the coast. The visibility was
pretty limited, but for the most part I managed to keep headed in
right direction, for we were never out of sight of land--just not
the right direction to see where we were going.
The weather lifted about halfway across Day Harbor, and it turned
a very nice day. We rounded the very spectacular Cape
Resurrection and headed down into Resurrection Bay, arriving in
around 7 pm. We had no luck finding a free dock, so we wound
tied to a 36' sailboat. (We'd called the harbormaster, but
no answer). We walked up the hill, made some phone calls and
had dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate arriving at the end of
this leg of our trip.
Thursday, July 29. Seward (and off to Fairbanks).
We were up at 6, Matt and his uncle showed up at 7:30 and by 9:30 I
the car fetched from Matt's house. It took us another 2.5
to get the car loaded, register with the harbormaster, and eat
breakfast. Then we headed to Fairbanks, with a stop in
to buy some boat hardware and in Wasilla for dinner. It was 1
by the time we pulled into the driveway in Fairbanks...a long
trip! Hopefully we'll be able to leave earlier when we
return...and we won't spend 2 hours in Anchorage shopping!
Next logbook: Seward to
© by Ray R. Collins
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