Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Petersburg to Ketchikan

I've made it to Ketchikan, with nice weather pushing us along ahead of it. When its sunny out, the wind comes from the northwest, which is delightful and behind us, so we can fly the spinnaker oftenly. But sometimes it breeds trouble. After leaving Petersburg I came to terms with my animal cruelty inside feelings, and I hit a whale. We were sailing along this narrow passage west of Zarembo Island (snow passage) where there were a few scattered individual Humpback Whales feeding, and I guess the boat is quiet enough when sailing that they don't hear us. Anyways, one came up ahead of the boat, and Claire saw it, but I didn't, so I didn't know where it would come up a second time. Claire said it was right in front of the boat, so I got a little worried and told her to hold on to something, in case we hit it. (in which case we would stop abruptly) After about 30 seconds, it came up again, heading strait for us almost, about 20 feet in front of the boat. Just after breating, I think it saw us, now 10 feet away, and made a sudden dive, turning away. It stuck its tail in the air to dive quicker, but in flipping its tail, it slapped the bowsprit a little bit and might have cut itself a little on one of the cables supporting the bowsprit.
I didn't feel anything in the boat, so we didn't hit hard, but I've never been so close to a whale before. I think it was a juvenile, because the tail wasn't wider than about 5 feet, probably more like 4 feet wide.
So I have a stealth boat. Watch out.
Ketchikan is a town that opens for tourists and closes after them, so it doesn't really cater to us at all. Both times I've been here, everything has been closed. But its very warm.
Tomorrow we'll head further south, and in a few days we'll cross Dixon Entrance, the big gash in the coastline that you can see on any map. It lies at the border between US and Canada, so that's how you spot it. There we will have to be on our guard, of course. I had the worst weather of the trip (potentially of my sailing experience) crossing it the first time, so I can only pray for better treatment this time.
And here are some pictures I wanted to upload on the last post, but had crappy internet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Juneau to Petersburg

Claire arrived on Monday the 13th of July, and we set out from Juneau to head southbound. We had nice weather for the first day, but then the wind turned from the south, and against us. The first day of turning a corner to head down Chatham Strait turned out to be a failure, it was blowing too hard against us and the waves were too high to make for a comfortable passage, so we turned and hid to wait it out. But the next day was no better. So we made slow miles, and some days we didn't go anywhere. So, what took me two days to do from Petersburg to Juneau in May ended up taking 13 days to do this time around. We caught some salmon (Chinook) and other fish, and built lots of fires along the way, but with the weather against us, and it being cloudy all the time, I didn't take a lot of pictures.
I'm a lot more wary than I was earlier, as a result of the crash, but it's not good for me. I find myself worrying about the trip rather than enjoying the moment, and that doesn't do me any good, because then I don't have a clear reason for being out here. The weather turned to our favor (or at least became not bad anymore) two days ago, so we will be enjoying that a lot. The next stop is Ketchikan, in (hopefully) about 5 days or less, and then on into Canada.
I think the repairs are holding up just fine, but I seem to have a lot of water in the bilge all the time, every time I run the engine. I think the shaft seal is leaking more than it used to, so I am unhappy about that. Other than that, the boat is treating me fine.
I'm also reading Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein, and I am really liking it. It's all about war and fighting and life in the military (in the future) but it's also about morality and structure of government and power. So it's interesting. Not at all like the movie of the same name.