Summer has arrived in Southeast Alaska, just as we are leaving. Wouldn’t you know it?
We pulled out of Bar Harbor North in Ketchikan at about 0930 with the sun up, and gentle breezes. How do you define “gentle”? That’s when you can feel it but there isn’t enough to set the sails, much less make any progress (about 4 knots or so). Our hope was to explore (even newer) Metlakatla, a community of Tsimshian people who moved up to Alaska because the missionary who evangelized them (William Duncan) couldn’t get along with his bishop. So they moved up to Annette Island in the 1890s. Duncan asked the president of the US to grant his community Annette Island as an Indian Reservation (never mind that this was traditional Tlingit territory).
Unfortunately, Metlakatla isn’t the easiest place in which to get ashore. They’ve got a great harbor–for big commercial fishing boats and for little sport fishing boats. But it didn’t come with a place to tie up Braesail. So we cruised around Port Chester, looking at the town, and noticing that they was a landing dock for at least a half dozen float planes, manned with a couple of eight-passenger vans to take people around, but no place for visiting boats. Sigh!
We went out into Clarence Strait heading south toward Felice Strait, and found a 15+ knot wind, almost on our stern. With that kind of wind, you have to roll out the genoa (big head sail), and we proceeded to sail dead downwind until we got to Felice Strait. There we had to turn east, but that meant that the wind moved from astern to a nice broad reach (wind coming over the boat’s side just past the stern). Out came the mainsail. Then the wind moved back astern, so out came whisker pole (a big heavy tube that holds corner of the genoa out). I rigged a preventer (a jybe–having the heavy “boom” to which the mainsail is attached swing suddenly and hard across the boat’s cockpit–on Braesail is something you don’t want to have happen), and we spent the next two hours or so sailing through Felice Strait at 5-8 kts.–an altogether wonderful experience.
Just as we were about to go around Dog Island to transit Cat Passage (no lie–those are their real names!) the wind dropped, so we rolled everything in for the last hour of the trip into Morse Cove (that coVe, not coDe), made it through the (supposedly scary) passage into the cove, and dropped the hook.
Now I know that you probably won’t believe it, but Alaska has skies, and mountains, and fantastic vistas. Today was almost enough to make us stay in “Southeast” for another couple of weeks, but it’s a long way back to Anacortes, and we want to explore the Great Bear Rainforest. So tomorrow, we head out at Oh-dark-thirty (actually 0630, and it will be quite light at that time of the morning) for Prince Rupert. Should be about 10 hours, and according to PredictWind, we may be sailing a good bit of it (didn’t happen . . . ).
See you on the other side of the big red line in the ocean!
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