Saturday, September 7, 2013

Leg 1: Update from Petersburg

One of the worst sailing days, one of the absolutely best sailing days, and one day with just sun and whales!

We finally left Douglas Harbor on Wednesday morning in the pouring rain. Gave kisses to my Mom, Dad, and lovely Jill, who brought us even more food to add to our growing provisions. Forecast for Stephens Passage was rain, seas 3 ft., and winds from 10-20 kts, gusts up to 25. This forecast sounds pretty identical to the weather we were sailing in on the Bay a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco (minus the spitting rain). However, this forecast was definitely not the case once we crossed Taku Inlet. The seas and wind were larger than expected, which forced us to power motor through against the waves to Slocum Inlet to wait out the wind. We anchored in Slocum, took a nap (or attempted to sleep) along with several other fishing boats who had the same idea. We did manage to motor our way up to Taku Harbor later that day, through the every wind and the sea spray, knowing that we would be able to sleep soundly there and wait for the weather to pass.

Thursday was the complete opposite!! Woke up to a glass calm Stephens Passage, sunshine, little colds, not too cold. Once we motored out an hour, the wind picked up to 10-15 knots, still calm seas, which made for perfect sailing weather! We were able to sail, without the engine, just as fast as we could have motored. We didn’t put away the sails until later in the evening when the wind died and we got close to Hobart Bay, which was out second night stop. We noticed something peculiar when we got closer to the Hobart Bay entrance--- lots of splashing, rolling and puffs of air! Tons of humpback whales! It was like they had gathered to say goodnight to each other. The perfect sailing day couldn’t have ended better. We docked up on a tiny shallow pier inside the little cove of Entrance Island, right at the mouth of Hobart Bay (several other fisherman moored there as well). Once old fisherman called to us as we slowly motored into the cove, “What kind of sailboat is that?”
            “Cal 34,” Clif replied.
            With the fisherman’s two fingers in a peace sign extended towards us, he responded, “You’re a rich man when you’re sailing a boat like that.”

Friday morning, fresh out of the gate: whale city!! There must have been 40-50 whales just moving about the mouth of Port Houghton: breathing, rolling, breaching and most definitely checking us out. Several humpbacks near the Five Fingers Lighthouse just came straight towards the bow of the boat and wound their way around us, sensing our shape and size. Yesterday (Friday), was the first time I have ever HEARD the whales sing and call above the water. It was frightening at first. I couldn’t believe the noises I was hearing, even above the thumping of the engine. Squeals, screeches, low rumbles and fog-horn-like bellows came from every direction throughout the morning. It was humpback whale over load… if that’s possible. We had entered Fredrick Sound.

The whales were everywhere the entire day. So many whales in one little corner of the ocean! The only bummer about Friday was that there was literally no wind. We attempted to put the mainsail up for fun, for some activity other than motoring, but it didn’t propel us along any faster. It just made a pretty photo opportunity for some tourists running by in a couple fancy yachts. We entered Thomas Bay (look up “The Strangest Story Ever Told—Thomas Bay”) around 4pm and had to motor in all the way to the back of the Bay to find shelter from the wind, that of course picked up late, when we wanted to sleep, not sail! We ended up anchoring right off the beach, directly in front of Cascade Creek, next to a tiny public use cabin. Beautiful spot for a yummy warm dinner of green veggie curry and red wine.

Today, Saturday, we have carefully planned out timing to get in and out of the Wrangell Narrows, which Clif has been through several times, but not before a nice little wifi/cell service/fuel stop in Petersburg. Also, quick note while I’m writing this: we are currently motor sailing over to Petersburg and there are icebergs in the water! How many sailors get to navigate icebergs?! Probably not many. I promise we are keeping our distance.

Hope you’re enjoying the GPS tracking! We are enjoying each and every little message we receive! Just a little text means quite a lot when we’re out on the water. Thank you!

Our current plan, as far as the next couple of days, is to be in St. John’s Bay tonight (if the weather is decent across Sumner Straight), Coffman Cove on Sunday night hopefully and then down to Ketchikan on Monday night. More updates from K-town before we head into Canada.

Cheers-- Giselle

Saying goodbye to Juneau (in the background)

Morning coffee time

Fleece toes are driving

Trimming more than sails...

Galley time.

yummy vino from Juneau Costco run.

Braiding my hair in the morning

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