Saturday, June 8, 2019

Petersburg to Juneau

Nimue, Tango and Chantey V

Sailor bread!


A challenging stretch of water, the long, narrow, current-ridden straight of the Wrangell Narrows, had to be undertaken before we arrived at the sheltered harbour of Petersburg. Originally settled by Norwegian mariners, the town prides itself on its’ unique heritage. A replica of a Viking ship stands proudly amid Norwegian shops and posters advertising dances and festivals from the homeland. Wilkomen! The old cannery is now silent but the vast fishing fleet appears busy and prosperous. Clouds have moved in and spires of snow-topped peaks hint at the massive glaciers awaiting us around the corner.
   Chantey V will be moving on to Hobart to anchor for the night in preparation for a run up Tracy Arm to the Sawyer glacier. Nimue and Tango will be a day or two behind so we bid them adieu with G & T’s in the cockpit, and a loaf of homemade Sailor Bread. 

Viking wannabee

There everywhere!

Tracy Arm
    Tracy Arm proved to be a major highlight of our trip thus far. Our first iceberg appeared off the bow even before we entered the arm. Its’ massive, aqua-marine coloured bulk shone iridescent in the sun. The spectrum of crystal blues, turquoise, and silver glinting from the light. Two bald eagles perched sentinel atop its’ jagged peaks. We passed and hailed MV Castaway -another OCC boat - as we crossed the bar into Tracey Arm. Once within the fiord snow-encrusted mountains loomed on every side as dodged ‘bergie bits’, huge chunks that break off the ice bergs. As we neared the final curve in the channel the enormous South Sawyer Glacier appeared ahead, its’ shimmering presence indescribably beautiful! We killed the motor and drifted silently watching for calving, crags of glacier ice breaking off into the sea. Seals with their pups sunbathed on the ice flows. Daragh snagged a chunk of berg and we toasted the moment with beers and glacier ice cubes!
Icy eagle perch outside Tracey Arm

The money shot

Bergie Bits and Beer!
Ice sculptures

The ice queen herself

Ice with that beer?

 One month to the day we left Victoria we are now tied to the dock at Harris Harbour, Juneau after a nail-biting run under the Douglas-Juneau bridge with only three feet clearance above the mast at mid tide! I couldn’t bear to look! There at the dock was our old friend Nikki Germain from Mexico days to take a line - she had spotted us coming under the bridge! It was a great reunion with Nikki and John, from SV Seychelles - our buddy boat down the Pacific coast eight years ago. Lots of stories to share as we toured the town. Juneau has managed a successful mix of cruise ships and local charm with its’ majestic mountain scenery as a backdrop. At the top of the gondola ride at Mt. Roberts we enjoyed a panoramic view of snowy mountain ranges, deep valleys and yes, three cruise ships docked below with tourists streaming down the docks. You still have a sense of the old gold rush days as you ramble down the wooden boardwalks. Tomorrow we will rendezvous with old friends from the past, John and Marian, who call Auke Bay near Juneau their home. 
Juneau whale 

Gondola view from 2,000 ft AGL

Passing us out!

John & Nikki's Place, Juneau

Friday, May 31, 2019

Prince Rupert to Ketchikan

Alaska Panhandle Maze
Prince Rupert

"I'm a goin' fishin',
Yes I'm goin' fishin'
And my baby's going' fishin' too.

You can bet your life,
Your sweet little wife 
is gonna catch more fishies than you."
Taj Mahal

North Pacific Fish Cannery
 Prince Rupert, strangely enough, was named after Count Palatine of the Rhine, a German prince and nephew of King Charles the second of England. What he has to do with a fishing town in Northern BC no one will ever know! Chantey is enjoying a brief respite from the high seas here at the Prince Rupert Yacht and Rowing Club. A cruise ship was in the harbour as we strolled down the recently spiffed up boardwalk along the waterfront. Second mate John is homeward bound tomorrow on the Spirit of the North so we quaffed a pint and some fish n' chippies with our OCC cruise in company at the Breakers Pub. Back to just the two of us, we will be off on our next leg of the journey to Ketchikan. A 5am start as high winds are expected in the strait in the afternoon.
To our great delight we have had a week of glorious sunshine in Alaska! We crossed the border and check in by phone without incident thanks to our new Nexus cards.South Bar Harbour was a hive of activity between the fish boats and float planes. But the scene that awaited us in town was a sight to behold with no less than five cruise ships docked at this small town harbour! The old town is quite cute with the wooden boardwalks and colourful saloons and shops on stilts. Creek Street boasts the only historic red light district on the coast. A boardwalk trail connects the old brothel area to the ubiquitous array of silversmiths, gold jewelry and fur shops, as up to 10,000 tourists a day descend on this once sleepy village. By late afternoon everyone scurries aboard and they're off and the town is once again a peaceful haven of solitude.
Cruise ships in Ketchikan
Ketchikan Yacht Club docks
says it all
Georgie goes for a bus ride!

Creek Street Ketchikan
Described as a tiny 'salt-stained' fishing settlement on an isolated inlet halfway to Wrangell, Meyer's Chuck was an oasis of calm after bustling Ketchikan. The main street is a grassy path lined with rustic cottages and huts decorated with old farm implements and fishing paraphernalia. The dock holds half a dozen mostly fish boats, one of which side swiped us late in the night as he docked, giving us quite a jolt! A few chips off the gel coat but luckily no major damage to report.
Chantey V at Myers Chuck dock

Book nook and DVD exchange
    As dusk settled a happy hour was planned aboard SV Nimue with our OCC friends Michael and Anne, and Steve and Vicky on Tango, and later dinner at a waterfront diner nearby. Next stop...Meyers Creek.

     First light and we edged off the dock on route to Anan Bay and the bear observatory. This is one of the few places you can observe black and brown bears feeding freely on Chum salmon in the falls from behind a sheltered bear blind. 
A half mile boardwalk follows the shoreline to a covered platform where one has a birds eye view of these big teddy bears feasting on salmon. Unfortunately for us we were too early for the salmon run, and no beasts appeared, but we thoroughly enjoyed the forest trail and the stunning vista over Anan Falls. Just to be on the safe side I had my can of WD 40 handy in case wee Georgie was selected for an afternoon appetizer! This is only a day anchorage with sketchy holding so we spent the night at the lovely mountain fiord of Berg Bay nearby.

Close encounters at Anan Falls

Anan lagoon

Anan Falls

Bear aware - WD 40 to the rescue!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

North to Alaska 2019

                                                           'On the road again,
                                        They'll take me places that I've never been,
                                        I'll be happy playing music with my friends,
                                            Don't ya know I'll be on the road again'
 The Mariners Road that is.....It's day one of our Alaska Cruise, and three months exploring both new, and familiar locations with plenty of adventures in store for the crew of Chantey V. Our first leg of the journey includes Captain Daragh, first mates Cathy and sister Tes, and salty dog Georgie Porgie.
Under glorious skies we dropped the hook in scenic Montague Harbour, Galiano Island. Tomorrow we aim for Dodd Narrows and a BBQ at idyllic Newcastle Island, Nanaimo. And so it begins....

                        'I'd like to be, under the sea, in an octopus's garden in the shade.'

    May 10- Our plans for the trip were almost sabotaged when our beloved Perkins engine blew a seal and packed it in two weeks before take off! After much deliberation, and a touch of the Luck O' the Irish, we managed to install a brand new Beta 38 just in the nick of time, thanks to Ben Gartside and his boys, and were happily underway and on schedule for departure.

Newcastle to Jedidiah Island
    At Newcastle Island we met up with the mid-island chapter of the Bluewater Cruisers and happy hour get-together on Protection Island . The Ocean Cruising club was also descending on Nanaimo Harbour as a crushing company of sailors including ourselves, rendezvoused for our trip north to Alaska. Anne and Michael Hartshorn on Nimue and Steve and Vicky Austin on Tango joined in for a quick raft up before setting sail for Jedidiah Island. After a pit stop for a hearty breakfast with sister Mary we were off again to Jedidiah and Comox BC.

    A brief stop in Comox was in order surrounded by a panoramic vista of snow-capped mountains.  A tasty dinner at the local pub was followed by a good visit with old friends David and Sandy from the Mainroad days. We tucked in early ready for a quick getaway in the morning to make Seymour Narrows and sleepy little Port Neville by nightfall.

   It was an early morning start bucking strong currents in Johnstone Strait as we motored out in to a pea-souper of a day, shrouded in heavy fog and drizzle. A school of porpoises guided our way into the tiny enclave of Telegraph Cove. The red clapboard buildings of the old sawmill town appeared through the mist as we entered the harbour and docked, the sole occupant at the marina so early in the season.

           Crossing the Bar
"Sunset and Evening Star,
And one clear call for me,
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

For though from out are bourne of time and place,
The flood may bare me far,
I hope to see my pilot's face
When I have crossed the bar."
      Alfred Lord Tennyson

Telegraph Cove

Alert Bay to Sointula
   Our plan was to stop by Sointula on Malcolm Island to see sailor friends Trish and Jim Bowen. On route we docked at historic Alert Bay and viewed the impressive First Nations Museum there, including a display on Chief Dan George and his many contributions to his people.

Chief Dan George
Alert Bay

Residential School Door

The clouds lifted as we slipped in to our berth in sunny Sointula on Malcolm Island, aptly named 'Place of Harmony', and so it was. Jim and Trish, and neighbour Sarsfield Nagle, joined us for drinks in the cockpit. Later they invited us home to their delightful newly-constructed house overlooking the breathtaking vista of Rough Bay. As daylight broke we hoisted anchor in preparation for a run to Port Hardy, Tes's departure and crew change. Brother John was coming aboard from a just completed hike across Cape Scott National Park.
Jim, Tricia and Sarsfield on Sointula

"As long as we can sail away,
There'll be wind in the canyon,
Moon on the rise,
As long as we can sail away."
                                 Neil Young

Ocean Cruising Club gang at Shearwater

Port Hardy to Shearwater

   With Johnny safely stowed away in the V berth up front we met the crews of our fellow Ocean Cruising Club boats, Tango, Nimue, and Merlin for dinner at the pub and a hearty fish n' chipper. Lots of banter comparing notes for the crossing of Cape Caution next morning. As luck would have it the winds were favourable southwesters and we motor-sailed past the cape under blue skies, relieved to put the dreaded cape behind us.  Anchored snugly in Fury Cove for the evening we dinghied ashore and explored the tiny island lined with picturesque white shell beaches.

   Our cruising company of OCC boats descended on the cheery sports fishing hub of Shearwater early in the afternoon. Hot showers ensued and then a tasty halibut and burger dinner on the pub patio in the sunshine. Bald eagles circled overhead and the lapping waves at the dock lulled us to sleep. A long passage down Princess Royal Channel led us into Green Inlet. The porpoises kept us company diving in our wake and we spotted a killer whale slapping his tail playfully near the shoreline, before stern tying in Green Inlet. We have two more long passages through a menagerie of channels and fiords before we arrive at the bustling port of Prince Rupert on Thursday.
Fury Cove

Johnny on watch

'So much time to make up
everywhere you turn,
Time we have wasted on the way,
So much water moving
underneath the bridge,
Let the water come and carry us away.'
                          Crosby , Stills and Nash

Hartley Bay to Prince Rupert

  Hartley Bay is a remote First Nations fishing village with wooden boardwalks connecting the townsfolk. There are no cars but people drive small atv's so a peaceful atmosphere pervades the village. The fog and rain lifted next morning and we were off again, this time for Kumealon Inlet.

Fishing fever


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Kauai to Victoria

North Pacific weather as we left

At noon July 28th, RVYC and THSA sailors Gerry Morrison, Paul Jenkins  and myself weighed anchor, stowed it, hoisted mainsail and set out for Victoria from Hanalei Bay, Kauai. We sailed west at first to admire the famous Na Pali coastline before turning north for the long haul home.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Breakfast is served
We settled into our 3 on 6 off watch rotation in strong trade-winds and rough seas. By nightfall we had 3 reefs in the main and 50% of the Genoa rolled up and were still exceeding 8 knots at times. Pretty uncomfortable though so we eased west to improve the ride and be kinder to the boat...we had a long way to go. Three days out our batteries needed recharging so we ran the engine for one watch. This slowed us a lot as we couldn't run it with an extreme heel angle, and had to bear off.
Helga takes charge
Gerry and Paul are both excellent sailors with lots of racing experience and kept the sails trimmed optimally at all times. Initially hand steering was in vogue but after a couple of days....we deployed "Helga" our trusty Hydrovane self steering and it did well in the strong wind. "Otto" our Raymarine autopilot did an even better job when the going got really rough in big quartering seas, never missing a beat. Cooking was difficult with the heeling and constant lurching but hunger is a great motivator in the galley.
Cuisine improves with practice
That pesky Pacific Northern High likes to follow us!
The conditions improved after the first five days and the cuisine improved accordingly. Seven days out we were approaching the Pacific Northern High and we pondered our tactics to get around it. We got great shore support from Connie and Al our BCA Fleet coordinators who kept a watchful eye on us the entire trip. Thanks! We also had success downloading weather and Grib files from KL7EDK in Fairbanks, Alaska as well as Radiofaxes from Point Reyes, California on our SSB radio. At this point we noticed some stitching failures in our Genoa at the leech. We dropped the sail and the sewing bee was on. The sun had been getting through the UV cover and damaged the thread. Gerry sewed it up handily and 2 hours later it was flying again.
Downwind with the chute
Winds continued to ease and day 8 had us flying our Spinnaker. We gradually curved ENE around the high trying to stay in wind. We got too close once and had to run the engine to hunt for wind, and gave the batteries a much needed boost. We downloaded the latest weather daily and the high kept moving east with us and blocking our path. Going north over the top would add hundreds of miles without any guarantee of conditions being better when we got there; not the mention the potential encounter with a nasty low sweeping down from Alaska
So we learned to be patient and stayed on our planned route. We had 4 days worth of fuel and we needed to preserve this for crossing the center of the high when we finally got to it.  The high persisted tracking eastward and finally formed a ridge almost touching Vancouver Island. By now many of the returning Vic-Maui race boats were  getting close to us but we did not sight any. We tried our luck fishing in the calm periods without any success. Probably too far north for tuna and 7 Kts is trolling too fast for salmon. The final week had us changing sails and trim regularly. We set up our storm jib in anticipation of gale force winds off the BC coast.
Paul to the rescue
One morning Paul heard a bolt fall from our boom vang and saved it from going over the side -well done! Finally the wind dropped completely and we motored for 2 days across the center of the high. Twelve hours later we were shortening sail down to 3 reefs again along with the storm jib.
Gerry- foredecker extrordinaire
  This proved to be  too slow so up went the Genoa again.The gale took a day to transit and the wind died abruptly over the Swiftsure bank and we were motoring again. Next morning we were in thick fog at the Juan de Fuca strait entrance fighting a 2 knot adverse current. By eleven the tide had changed and soon we were motor sailing fast to get to Race Passage before it turned again.
The 3 marineros return
Flags are a flyin"
Homecoming dock party
We were delighted to encounter the RVYC Wednesday night racing fleet as we came into Cadboro Bay, where our families and friends were waiting to greet us. We had sailed 2,800 NM in 20 1/2 days which was better than our most optimistic estimate.
One, two, skip a few...2800NM
We made the cover of Compass while we sailed!

This concludes the Chantey V Pan American cruise that began on August 1st, 2011 just over 5 years ago. We have sailed over 30,000 NM, visited 30 countries and were joined by 33 friends and family along the way. It has been a wonderful experience and the best part is the realization that our home in Victoria BC is the best place of all!

"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small
But it's big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day

So I'm sailing for tomorrow my dreams are a dyin'
And my love is an anchor tied to you tied with a silver chain
I have my ship and all her flags are a' flyin'
She is all that I have left and music is her name"
Crosby, Stills and Nash

Chantey Vs Pan American Cruise