|Hala already loves the sea|
Wow - how time and the miles fly.
We're sitting in Port McNeill, near the top of Vancouver Island, and will be home in less than two weeks. Our final guests, Susie and Howard (who are celebrating their 50th anniversary) will be joining us tomorrow. We'll give them the cooks tour of the Broughtons (an island archipelago near the northern end of Vancouver Island) and then Glenda and I will bring the boat home on our own.
After dropping off Jason and Jacky in Sitka, G and I stayed a few days, topping off fuel, resting and enjoying fireworks on the evening of the 3rd (it stays so light up here that they have to start late, and end up on the fourth anyway.) Then we headed out of Sitka to Juneau where we pick up Simon, Faith and our granddaughter, Hala. We headed through Peril Strait to Frederick Sound, but not until stopping one more time in our favorite anchorage, Red Bluff Bay on Baranov Island. Maybe, we thought, we'd see another bear.
And did we! How about eight brown bears. Unfortunately no pix worth sharing. They were either too far away or it was too dark. But you can imagine...:)
Arriving in Juneau we managed to score a slip near downtown rather than our usual spot in Aucke Bay 10 miles north. The kids joined us on July 12th and after a brief tour of the glacier and downtown, we were off, officially heading south. For Glenda and me, this leg was mostly about spending time with Hala (and the kids as well, of course,) but we still managed to get in some great whale and sea lion watching.
The kids left us in Petersburg. Like a horse racing for the barn, we started making more time each day. Skipping Wrangell, we made it all the way to Meyer's Chuck, then Ketchikan for two days (where we saw Molly and four of her seven kids again), then Foggy Bay and then...Canada again! We spent two nights in Prince Rupert, and then headed down through northern BC stopping in Lowe Inlet, where we watched a bear fishing at a waterfall, Khutze Bay, were we had three folks from Genesis over for dinner, peaceful Fougner Bay (any of you who have read my first novel may remember Fougner Bay), Pruth Bay, where we hiked to the ocean, Secure Anchorage near Fury Cove, and then finally, yesterday, we crossed Queen Charlotte Sound and headed on into Port McNeill. WHEW!
A word about yesterday, and then we'll get to the pictures. I had never before been in Secure Anchorage. We usually stay in Fury Cove which is right on the edge of Queen Charlotte Sound, one of the major "ocean" crossings of the trip. However, because the weather had been so snotty, Fury was filled with boats waiting for a weather window to make the crossing. Although the entrance is intricate, with rocks and two S-curves, Secure Anchorage was just that. Quiet. Calm. Beautiful. I took the time to kayak a bit. However, next morning was the thickest fog I've seen for a while. We left at 5:30am under radar and carefully following the track I had made going in on the electronic chart, but it was till a little hairy. We didn't have more than 50 yards visibility for the next five hours, and were traveling among another 6-7 fellow boaters who had exited Fury Cove about the same time. The seas were a little roll - 4-5ft swells, but overall it was an easy ride - that is until...
We had just entered Queen Charlotte Strait when a boat came on the radio saying he was having engine problems and couldn't keep up speed. We saw him on radar and volunteered to slow down so he had to shut down, we could offer assistance. Sure enough, an hour later he radioed that he could barely make 3 knots. So we turned around and found him two miles behind us in the fog. Shelly T was a 36 ft catamaran trawler, and BOTH her engines had failed. We hooked up a tow line, and pretty soon we were chugging along in 3-4 foot seas, up current, doing around 5.5 knots. Four hours later, we pulled into Port Hardy and dropped them off. We exchanged cards and kidded that probably some day we'll meet again and become best of friends. For our part, it felt good to be able to help and, frankly, it was a fun adventure.
|Mast-head eagles in Sitka. They don't normally get this close unless they're a nesting pair.|
|Oops, I guess they heard me.|
|Sea Otter in Frederick Sound. The don't usually stay asleep when we pass.|
|Coming into Juneau can be otherworldly. Thank heavens these guys only frequent a few towns.|
|Tourists were kind enough to take our picture on a walk in Juneau. To our left was the Alaska Governor's residence, once home to 'she who shall not be named.'|
|We discovered the 'secret' anchorage among the Brothers Island. It felt like we were in a National Geo documentary, with the sounds of whales outside and a big sea lion rookery near by. Thanks to Matt for telling me about it.|
|We took a dinghy tour and landed on a nearby beach, exploring forest with the thickest layer of moss I've ever seen.|
|The name of the doll is 'baby.' She and Hala are close buddies.|
|Every once in a while we really do up breakfast!|
|Athena in Frederick Sound. Owned by Jim Clark (founder of Netscape), at 295ft she is the fourth largest private sailboat in the world. But it could be yours for $100 million.|
|Simon, Faith and Hala. What a great five days we had with you!|
|Reflections in slough, Petersburg|
|Ketchikan. This is how the locals clean their boats in Alaska|
|They put the boat on a platform...|
|And let the tide do the work.|
|I just like photographing eagles, so bear with me.|
|Early morning, heading south out of Prince Rupert, Canada|
|Always keep an eye on radar.|
|We kept seeing Genesis along the way. Alan (left) single handed north, then advertised for crew. Bart (right) played a role in what, for me, was an amazing synchronicity that I'll tell at the end of this post. (See if you're paying attention.)|
|Lowe Inlet. A very special place. This shot was taken from where we were anchored.|
|I don't think the salmon was in any danger from the bear.|
|After dinner in Kutze Inlet, 'the boys' were slightly over gross weight rowing back to Genesis.|
|Early light traveling down Princess Royal Inlet|
|On the ocean beach at Pruth Bay|
|Foggy morning in Pruth Bay|
|This is the first time we've had Pacific White-sided Dolphins play on our bow (it's usually Dahl's Porpoises.) Glenda and I were leaning over the bow waving, and she would turn on her side to look at us. It was utterly awesome!|
|Shelly T under tow, finally coming out of the fog. Chris B, notice the line I'm using for towing. Worked great!|
Okay, so if you were paying attention you know that I have a synchronicity to share with you.
My dad grew up in Holland during WWI. Holland was blockaded and they had a tough time getting enough food. After coming to the States, he ultimately joined the Merchant Marines during WWII, and ended up in slow Liberty Ships doing the dangerous convoy run from Scotland to Murmansk Russia deliveries war goods. I remember vividly him telling me how frightened he was. Many ships were picked off by U-boats and you only had a few minutes to survive in the cold arctic sea.
While in Meyer's Chuck, we ran into Jeff and Wendy from Daybreak, a lovely Flemming 55. We had met them in Seattle's Belle Harbor two years ago. Great folks we look forward to getting to know better. We saw them again and had dinner in Ketchikan, where in the course of conversation I mentioned my dad's story. Jeff said he had just read an old book out of print book (published 1966) by a dutch author about the Murmansk run. The next day, he brought it to the boat for me to read. The Captain, by Jan de Hartog, was a phenomenal novel about a sea-going tug and its role, following the convoys to try and pick up survivors when ships were sunk. I loved it, and was fascinated to learn than de Hartog had grown up in Holland about the same time as my dad.
Several times this summer we ran into Genesis, a 30ft sailboat. Alan, a professional photographer, was initially by himself, but then advertised a found two guys to help him bring the boat back south. In Lowe Inlet, right after I photographed the bear at the waterfall, Alan and Tom set out in their dinghy to get closer. As we were heading back to the boat we saw them waving frantically at us. We headed over and had a good laugh. In his haste, Allan had forgotten gas for the outboard, and oars. So we towed them back. The next night we ended up again together at beautiful Khutze Inlet. It was finally time to feed those boys some dinner and brownies. As they came aboard we were introduced to Tom, who is from New York and works facilitating exchange student programs, and Bart who is from Kamloops Canada.
Turns out Bart is Dutch. One thing led to another until I mentioned I had just read an exciting sea story by a Dutch author - I was blanking on the name. Jan de Hartog? Bart asked. Yes, that was it, I said. He became animated, telling me that de Hartog is one of his favorite authors and over the years he has collected all of his books, some in Dutch and many in English, and he'd be happy to send me some to read!
Perhaps it's because of the connection to my dad, but this whole episode struck a deep chord in me. Yet another example of the invisible lines that somehow tie us all together.