Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)
Thursday-Tuesday, August 21-26, 2008
There’s a good reason sailors recommend ending their Alaskan sailing in July. It’s shown up over the last few days. We had great weather for Glacier Bay – light winds and sun – and before that good a day here and there. But since then we have had rain, fog, and wind every day. Fall is coming in Alaska.
Since we left Gustavus we stopped in Hoonah for a night and did laundry and waited for the weather to clear. It rained all day and all night while we were there. We left the next morning, heading south down Chatham Strait. Motoring. Most of the time we couldn’t see any shore due to the fog and rain. We anchored the first night a Chaik Bay and the second night at Noyes Island.
Sunday we motored into Craig. Craig is the largest town on Prince of Wales Island. Fullerton packed his stuff and took off on a float plane for Ketchikan and on to Oklahoma from there. I filled up the boat with diesel and parked at the local dock.
Monday I made a quick dash south to Security Cove. It was intended to be a quick dash, but head winds of 25-35 knots and waves that got as high as 10-12 feet made my average speed little more than 4 knots. So I anchored in Security Cove and checked the weather forecast. The gap in the weather that I was hoping for didn’t materialize. In fact, the forecast had worsened.
So I stayed at anchor all day Tuesday, waiting to leave on Wednesday. It rained heavily all day. The wind came up around noon and ranged from 30-45 knots. I was concerned about the anchor dragging and stayed in foul-weather gear all afternoon. The rain was still cold.
At one point the harness holding the anchor chain broke. This caused the boat to yaw back and forth, putting a lot more strain on the anchor and the chain. It took me about 20 minutes to get another harness on. Even at anchor, it’s challenging to work outside in 40+ knots of wind and rain.
I sure was relieved to see the wind decline to 20-30 knots in the evening. Good thing I didn’t venture outside the cove today. Fall might already be here in Alaska.