Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Alaska Cruise by the Numbers

We arrived back to our winter moorage on Bainbridge Island on Thursday, September 12.  With luck, we’ll fill in the blank weeks since the last log posting sometime this fall.  In the meantime, I’ll provide a summary of the trip by the numbers.

151 Total days on the cruise
99 Nights at anchor (66%).
51 Nights at a dock (34%).
3667 Nautical miles traveled
630 Engine hours
23 Days in which the generator operated
53.3 Generator hours

In terms of fuel consumption, we fueled up on the way north in Anacortes our first first port of call and again at Anacortes near the end of the trip (day 143). We tried to top off the tanks on both occasions.

1185 Gallons of fuel
600.6 Engine hours
3485 Nautical miles traveled
48.4 Generator hours
??? Hours of furnace operation

With regards to engine hours, this is from the time the engine is started (before lines are untied or the anchor is pulled) and the time the engine is shut off (after the lines are secured or the anchor is set and snubbed).  The miles traveled are from the chart plotting software I run (Coastal Explorer 2011) on my navigation computer. 

Our total trip average speed (distance traveled divided by engine hours) is “slower” this year than in previous years mostly because we did more fishing from the “big” boat rather than from the dinghy. I have not tried to back out of the data the time spent trolling at a slow speed or drifting while mooching.

Below is a map showing all of the places we stayed overnight at.  If you select one of the place markers, it will show its name and some data on our visit to it.

View Cruise 2013 in a larger map

Friday, September 6, 2013

Week 19 - Guests and more time in the Broughton Islands

On Monday, August 19 we headed for Port McNeill early (to beat any afternoon wind, which is always strong there). Indeed the wind picked up, but we were secure and started to do chores, including laundry, getting the forward cabin ready. On Tuesday, I provisioned with freshies, and our friends Ginny and Ken arrived around 4:30. We had dinner that night at Gus's Pub where they have nice prawns items on the menu. The following morning was final provisioning at 8 when the grocery store opened and then we're off.

First stop Cullen Harbor, and we saw several whales, Humpback and Orca on the way to Cullen. As soon as we arrived we launched the dinghy and Kurt went into Booker Lagooon and dropped the prawn traps. In the evening a few hours later, he and Ken went in to harvest and rebait. They were gone a long time, well the currents were stronger and they waited 15 minutes for the whirlpools to calm down in the narrow entrance. They brought back a good haul. It being Ginny and Ken's anniversary, we had a nice steak dinner. We even brought up a good bottle of wine (from the bilge wine cellar) to celebrate. We had a fabulous sunset. This has become a favorite anchorage for me, in no small part due to the very nice supply of prawns nearby!

After retrieving the prawn traps the next morning, with another nice haul, we headed to Turnbull Cove, via the outside of the Broughtons, in Queen Charlotte Strait, and we saw more whales. Shortly after arriving, we took the dinghy to shore and the others went on a short hike to a lake while I tended the dinghy (due to an injured knee I didn't go on hike). That evening we were the only boat in Turnbull and it was quite lovely. Dinner featured the prawns harvested from Booker Lagoon just that morning! They were really good.

From Turnbull we headed to Echo Bay, where we had reservations for moorage and the pig roast on Saturday night. This gave the opportunity for Ginny and Ken to do a hike to visit Billy Proctor's museum/collection. He is quite the interesting fellow, who has lived in the Broughtons for over 60 years, and done a variety of jobs, fishing, logging etc. And he has written a few books on the area and his life that are quite interesting. On Saturday we made two potluck dishes and went to the pig roast. It was lots of fun and we had a nice chat with another couple at our table who have a Nordhavn 62.

On Sunday we headed to the Monday Anchorage area, which we thought would be nice for our last night out with the Crowders. Well, we didn't like our first anchor drop location (we drifted too close to an island), we then secured in a slightly different location but concluded that though it was a good "stick" and plenty secure, the anchorage was exposed to the anticipated wind direction. Up comes the anchor again and we head to another nearby location, Joe's Cove, which was quite lovely. While there, we saw a Krogen 42 we had seen in 2007 (I recalled they had a cat)! I got their boat card and Kurt paddled over in a kayak and said "hi". Later the fellow came over in his dinghy after dropping crab pots and we asked if he still had his cat, yes he still had the cat, but then added his wife had passed away 2-1/2 years earlier. We expressed our condolences.

The next morning, Monday August 26 , after downloading the latest weather, Kurt rouses me while still dark around 6 AM (Yikes, the days are really getting shorter) because the forecast talks about SE winds from 30-35 in Queen Charlotte Straits. We've docked at Port McNeill in 25 knot winds before and don't want to repeat that experience. The trip across QC Strait is fine (see more humpback and orca whales) and the winds stay benign until right before the harbor when they rise to the upper teens. Fortunately, the Port McNeill Harbor Master gives us an easy side tie to use and is right there on the dock to catch our line as we come in. We dock without incident. Since it is just late morning when we arrive, the Crowders take a BC Ferry over to Sointula on Malcolm Island in the afternoon while Marcia and I do chores and provision.

Week 18 - A Few Days in the Broughtons

The weather reports were indicating a 2 day window for favorable conditions so Monday August 12 we headed to Fury Cove to position to do Cape Caution. On Tuesday we rounded Cape Caution and the seas were the best we had ever experienced for Cape Caution. We had our poles out, but never dropped our stabilizers into the water. We made our way to Carriden Bay in the Broughtons, the place we had departed from when we headed north around Cape Caution on April 30. The grounded log we had moved anchor to get away from back in April was still in there in Carriden in August.

We had decided to leave Alaska the end of July/first week of August and spend time in the Broughtons. And we had planned to visit most of the small marinas in the area. So we headed to Echo Bay, hoping to tie up and partake of the prime rib night there. Well we could get a place to tie up, but they were completely booked for prime rib night. So we passed on the moorage and instead went to Shoal Bay. It was windy getting to Echo Bay and windy in Shoal Bay, around 10-15 kts for a lot of the evening. The next morning it was calm and we headed to Cullen Harbor. We dropped the dinghy and tried fishing outside the Cullen entrance. No luck. Early the next morning, Kurt and I reconnoitered the entrance to Booker Lagoon and dropped prawn pots in the big hole in this large lagoon. At slack we took the big boat in and anchored. Kurt went in the afternoon to check the pots and we had prawns galore! As he said when he got back: lots! We had a quiet night and next morning pulled the pots and had more prawns, but not as nice as the haul the day before.

We departed Booker and headed to Shawl Bay, hoping to enjoy their famous pancake breakfast the next morning. They were full, so we wandered around awhile looking for a good place to anchor and finally decided to head to Turnbull Cove, as it is very large, with great depths, plenty of swing room and a good mud bottom. We saw a vessel from our yacht club anchored inside, we anchored near them and they invited us over for cocktails. We had a very nice visit.

Sunday morning we had a slow start as we were waiting for favorable current in Wells Passage, then left and found anchorage in "Let Her Rip Cove" in Monday Anchorage. The weather forecast was for settled weather and it was a fine place to spend the night so we didn't have to see if the anchorage would live up to its name.

Week 16 & 17- Getting out of SE Alaska

After departing on Saturday, July 27, I spent a few days in Virginia helping my sister with issues regarding my brother's estate. Kurt and the cats remained in Ketchikan doing boat chores (the cats supervise). Upon my return on August 1, we prepped to depart Ketchikan, though we had dinner out in celebration of my birthday. We also did the usual prederture laundry and provisioning.

On Saturday, August 3, we headed out with quite favorable conditions and anchored in Port Tongass. This is within spitting distance of the Canadian Border and allows the next day for a very short stretch of exposed waters, though the conditions the next day were benign. So we got to Prince Rupert Sunday afternoon, fairly early. Upon inspecting a document I had signed, had notarized and left with my sister and receiving her email regarding a legal document for selling Mark's property, I realized a page had not been completed. I needed to find the Canadian equivalent of a notary and notarize and fill out the incomplete page plus the new document. Unfortunately for our original schedule, it turned out that the next day, Monday August 5 was BC day, and a holiday.

While waiting out this unplanned day in Prince Rupert, I provisioned for Canada with the prerequisite forbidden-to-bring-in produce, "eyes, ears and pits" (e.g., no potato, corn or any fruit with pits such as cherries), and a few other items. I also got a Canadian salt water fishing license. Tuesday morning I tracked down a notary on the third try, first to a bank, then government offices, and finally a solicitor (attorney). The next stop was to the Post Office to express mail the documents to Cindee in Colorado. As an aside, it took longer to get from Prince Rupert, a major seaport, to Colorado Springs than when our boat builder express mailed documents from Doumen China to Seattle! We were able to depart around 11 a.m. and were glad to be heading out.

We went the inside—outside route, which avoids Grenville Channel. We had two anchorages to ourselves (the second was a total blank for prawns but sure had lots of jellyfish!) and the third anchorage, was selected because it routed us back inside, because the weather was kicking up.

When entering Cameron Cove, around 2 p.m. August 8, I couldn't help but notice that the fish (read salmon) were jumping as the song goes. Lots, in fact constant splashing sounds of fish jumping, right in our anchorage and the bay outside. So I got my gear, and we started trolling shallow. I got a bite and got a fairly large fish near the boat, but it got away, the barbless hooks you are required to use in Canada when fishing for salmon give the fish a real sporting chance! Though it started to rain, I was a little excited and so we continued. It started to rain harder. We were at a good turn around spot and I was about to say, "let's head in" when, I got another bite. I told Kurt, troll faster, I want to tire this guy out some. And so we did a lap, and I brought the fish in closer and it was fair sized and I worked really hard not to lose it, and I was able to get it into the boat, using the gaf, then bleeding it and putting it on a stringer. I did not mind the rain at all on the way back as I was fairly positive I had a king and when we got to the big boat, confirmed this and recorded the catch. A 28" king! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I gutted the fish, put it on blue ice and shortly thereafter filleted it.

The next day was a long one and we did Princess Royal Channel and then anchored in Bottleneck Inlet, a favorite, and one we have stayed at every trip north, either going or coming back. The next morning we timed our crossing of Milbanke Sound, which is open to the Pacific, to be at slack water to reduce the sea state due to swell and wind opposing the outgoing tide. It was very foggy and we watched with concern as two opposing radar targets, not far from us, came very very close to one another. And the fast boat had not slowed down much if any. We were all three converging, but we knew we were out of the way, and saw them pass, close—to close. But they did not collide. We headed into Seaforth Channel and found the fog had cleared and tried fishing where everyone else was fishing. And I caught a nice sized silver! We were able to hail our friends on Passages and arranged to meet at an anchorage, Wigham Cove, where we had a lovely potluck dinner, each bringing our own dinner, as they mostly eat vegan and we don't. Our dinner was leftover king salmon with a nice salad. Yum.

On Sunday we headed out and went to Ocean Falls. It was windy and we had to dock in the 15 kt wind. Oh joy. It was blowing us off the dock and it took two tries. There were a couple of folks on the dock that helped us and we secured ourselves OK. It continued to blow and calmed down ~ 9 p.m. We were sound asleep when around 12:30 a.m. we were awakend by a rushing noise. I thought it was the dam releasing lots of water above us, in my sleepy state. It turned out to be a BC ferry that was a very short distance behind us, with engines rumbling. Nothing to worry about, but sure noisy.