Leg 6-1999 : Petersburg, Alaska to Queen Charlotte
Sept. 23, 1999
1330 56.27N 132.22W Wrangell, Alaska
Log: 29,458 Air: 50F Water: 50F Winds: gusting 35, forecast 60 kts
Rafted to a fishing boat, Wrangell Harbor
Our luck on the Indian summer weather has temporarily
stopped. A 953 mb low is just hitting the Alaskan coast with offshore winds
to 90 knots forecast so we're very happy to be in a semi-secure harbor.
Amanda is in the middle of teaching our keen crew how to splice double
braid line and after lunch we're taking a break for a hike down the road
to visit over 100 Indian 8,000 year old petroglyphs carved on beach rocks.
Here's our Leg 6 crew:
63, formerly a chemist, (she says she was a "turd herder" for
various municipalities) is now a wooden boat aficionado, sailing and navigation
instructor. She sails her 30' Buchanan sloop out of her home port of Anacortes,
53, met us in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii when we were picking up our Leg 4 crew.
She and her sailmate Richard sail their Cabot 36 ketch out of Kona and
have dreams of South Pacific cruising.
50 of Atlanta, GA belongs to a sailing club on a nearby lake. In real life
he is chief technology officer for Brokat Financial Systems.
57 is a banker and Episcopal priest from New York City. This expedition
is an important step to purchasing a boat for his future cruising.
Sept. 25, 1999 1800 54.57N 131.01W 25 mi. South
Log: 29,596 Baro: 1022 Air: 50F Water: 47F
Close reaching @ 7.7 kts in 11.5 kts S wind
The winds and rain blew out after our night in
Wrangell and we had a smooth sail and motorsail south through Eastern Passage
to Anan Creek Bear Observatory. Unfortunately the high river water had chased
the bears back into their dens but our crew did see a black bear on the
beach as Amanda and I were hiking to get the dinghy.
Ketchikan was fun, actually sunny, we hiked to
the Totem Museum and were pleased to see a new 50' pole, 20 years in the
making that had been raised two weeks ago.
New totem pole. Ketchikan, AK
We're now having a spectacular sail toward Foggy
Bay, our last stop in Alaska! Very early tomorrow morning we'll hoist anchor
and sail for Prince Rupert. We're hoping to see bears along Foggy Bay's
shoreline tonight, as a guide in Ketchikan told Amanda this was a great
spot for them.
Sept. 30 1215 53.21N 131.13W Log: 29,742 Baro:
Surfing to 9.3 kts, broadreaching in 25-37kt
NW winds, SUNNY!!!
Foggy Bay turned out to be a spectacular harbor,
with lots of islands, channels and waterfalls. We went looking for bears
that evening, didn't see any, but the next morning a ranger came by in
a Boston Whaler saying, "Did you guys see the black bear on the shore
astern of you?"
Black bear at Foggy Bay
In seconds thoughts of completing the crew sail
repair job vanished as everyone grabbed cameras and boots and piled into
The mature black bear was foraging along the foreshore
looking for berries and grubs. We watched it from a distance until the
bear trundled off into the woods. We went up another inlet, saw no more
bears and slowly drifted back sightseeing. Suddenly our friend Blacky was
right there in the bushes unconcernedly browsing in the undergrowth. Amanda
wanted to get closer so she jumped out of the dinghy and followed it. Blacky
looked at us several times but was not at all interested or concerned.
Every time it looked up, motordrives were humming as crew got some great
shots! Trouble Amanda found was that most of them were big rear end views.
Blacky's brown nose is the only non black colour on the whole bear which
makes its very hard to distinguish the rest of the bear from the forest.
Anun Creek. Unable to find grizzlies the
crew bear up well.
That afternoon we had an excellent sail across
Dixon Entrance, arriving in Brundidge Inlet before dark. The following
morning we got an early start and Amanda and Kirk were completing the sail
repair interrupted by the bear when Amanda yelled, "WOLF ON THE BEACH,
SHUT THE ENGINE OFF!" Sure enough, a lone wolf was on the shore, and
it's mournful howling echoed around the bay for 20 minutes.
The passage to Prince Rupert was calm and only
punctuated by humpback whales and a strong flood tide that sped us through
Venn Passage. We were delighted to find Darwin Sound, an Ocean 71 on which
Al & Irene Whitney have conducted naturalist sailing tours for the
past 20 years, tied at Prince Rupert Yacht Club. We had last seen them
in Fiji before our wedding a year ago. Instead of continuing around the
world again, they decided to sail home via Japan and had just completed
a grueling passage from the Aleutian Islands. Their guests had departed
and they were enjoying a couple of days off with their 12 & 14 yr old
daughters, Victoria and Charlotte before sailing to Queen Charlotte City
to pick up their next guests.
We had a great time, sharing meals and stories,
and our crew got to check out a really BIG expedition boat. As I am just
finalizing dates on our 2001 expeditions to Norway and Spitsbergen, Al
& Irene loaned me all of their notated charts from their recent Spitsbergen
expeditions which I photocopied. Irene talked us out of our Leg 8 - 2000,
from Scotland, down the east coast of England to Southampton, saying it
was a difficult coast with lots of oil rigs and sloppy seas.
Instead, Leg 8 - 2000 will now go through Scotland's
Caledonian Canal, north to the Orkney Islands, then across the North Sea
to Norway, over to Sweden's sunny west coast where we'll stop in picturesque
Ellos, visiting the Hallberg-Rassy yard where Mahina Tiare was built, and
ending in historic Gothenburg harbor, tied up in the marina between the
new opera house and a square-rigged sailing ship. This is going to be one
super expedition leg with some great ocean crossing experience (the North
Sea) and lots of gorgeous little fishing towns and villages.
Well, before I get too carried away with next
year, back to the present. We waited an extra day in Prince Rupert while
a storm with 55 knots (sounds familiar, just like Wrangell) blew through,
then left this morning to cross the notorious Hecate Strait, between Northern
B.C. and the Queen Charlotte Islands.
In 1990 & 1991 we made this passage as an
overnighter, since it is 90 miles. This year some very high tides and strong
winds have dislodged a lot of drift logs from the beach which would be
difficult to spot at night, plus MTIII is quite a bit faster than MTII,
so we decided to see if we could make it in daylight.
Bob takes his trick on the helm while Kirk
keeps log lookout.
We left our sheltered anchorage in Welcome Harbor
at 0600, a half-hour before dawn using radar and electronic charts &
GPS displayed on our cockpit computer screen, with several folks on bow
watch. Once we were in Hecate Straits, Prince Rupert Coast Guard radio
made a special announcement of gale warnings for 35 knot NW winds for this
Crew take a sail repair lesson after 1st
reef seam parted.
Our concerns for making landfall in the Charlottes
before dark have evaporated as near-gale force winds have kept us surfing
all day, never dropping below 8 knots, and often hitting high 9's! The
best part is the brilliant sunshine!
Darwin Sound slept in a little later, but called
and said they have reefed and switched from jib to staysail and are still
hitting 10 knots! Must be great having 65' of waterline!
We're looking forward to seeing some great Haida
village sites with totem poles and house remains, checking out the excellent
museums in Queen Charlotte City and greeting our Leg 7 crew at the new
Sandspit Marina at noon on Wednesday.
Just a note to Leg 7 crew: please bring waterproof
gloves, or large rubber gloves to go over your gloves. The West Marine,
Windstopper gloves we recommended aren't waterproof. The best possible
glove combination includes an Outdoor Research (OR) Goretex outer mitten
shell, then any type of gloves including OR's fleece inner mitts or WM's
Windstopper's inside the mitt shells. OR products are excellent and are
available from REI or snowboard/climbing sources.
For more details on sailing and navigation experience check out our Sailing Schedule or contact Tracy in
our Mahina Expeditions office: firstname.lastname@example.org
or tel 360-378-6131.