We are docked in Ketchikan at last after a great deal of motoring, on Wednesday, Thursday, and today (Friday, July 15), through heavy mist, rain, and drizzle that have given me plenty of opportunities to clamber around Braesail’s cockpit (every 15 minutes or so), to sponge off the accumulated moisture from the windows and to wipe the rivulets from the cockpit benches. We have taken turns climbing out on the side decks to squeegee water droplets from the exteriors of the front windscreens so that Walt, at the helm, is able to see where we are going. Highs have been in the 50s for the past week, and we have seen peeps of sunlight for a few minutes on some days.
We left Wednesday night’s anchorage (Winstanley Cove in Shoalwater Pass) on Thursday and misted past the remarkable New Eddystone Rock, one of this area’s best-known landmarks. Does the mammoth lava tube tower in Behm Canal look to you like a 230-ft.-tall monster feline constructed out of stone, trees, and brush and seated on the sea?
As we motored, we watched carefully for floating logs and other debris and for fishing boats and their nets between bouts of moisture mop-up. In late afternoon, we anchored in Ham Island Bight, a small passage filled with strange, twirling currents and lots of little logs, sticks, and seaweed (no we did not BITE into HAM sandwiches at lunch!). After Walt had set the anchor, he discovered that the boat had drifted back into water that was too shallow to accommodate the overnight falling of the tide in the area, and so he “raised hook” and moved the boat into deeper water. All seemed well for about eight hours, but not long after we’d crawled into bed, the wind began to rise and the alarm on Walt’s phone sounded, alerting us to the boat’s movement outside the distance Walt had set as a safe one. We dressed and made our way up into the cockpit in case we needed to re-anchor, but it turned out that a change in the wind’s direction and the subsequent movements of the boat around the anchor had caused the alteration in its position and the sounding of the alarm. Nothing needed to be done, so we returned to bed, but didn’t sleep soundly until the wind had decided to go back to sleep as well.
This morning, we very carefully raised the anchor (bedecked with mud and all manner of weeds) and motored slowly out of the bight and toward Ketchikan, again watching for vessel traffic and sea debris and intermittently sopping up water from the cockpit benches and the windows. The harbor areas here are very busy with fish boats, pleasure boats, sea planes, and cruise ships, but we were able to dock safely right at the foot of the ramp leading to shore. We walked to a restaurant where we could get a nice meal AND tolerable WiFi, and then made our way through the usual afternoon light rain to a shopping mall to talk with an AT&T representative about setting up a data plan for our time in Alaska, and to grab a few items at Safeway.
Over the next two days we will do more grocery shopping, deal with a load or two of laundry, get the data plan set up, perhaps attend the Episcopal Church on Sunday, and try to see some of the sites related to the history of Ketchikan and the Indigenous populations of the area. Walt also needs to work on diagnosing and solving a problem we are having with the charging of our lithium batteries when the engine is running (there have been very few photons for our solar panels to capture and feed to the batteries)–at least the refrigerator/freezer and their thermostat are working well!