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Thursday, June 17, 2010

You do know its a rain forest, don't you?

6/15 Pelican

Sitting here at the tiny cafe in Pelican looking up at the cloud shrouded mountains and watching the constant drip running off everything in sight I can only laugh as the memory of the voice of a local in Ketchikanian echoes through my mind. While in Ketchikan we spent a couple of evenings at the local AA hall. The rooms were filled with men. Alaskan, tough guy, good ol boy, hunting and fishing and working hard kind of men. As in all AA meetings I have ever been to out of town they were warm and welcoming and full of questions about our planned trip as well as freely and warmly giving thoughts and suggestions about the local area. This one fellow looked at us and in a sort of Alaskan drawl asked us if we knew what it was we were in for as we traveled through "Southeast." "You do know its a rain forest, don't you?"

It has turned into a bit of a mantra for us as we move though the beauty of the area. Nearly everyday we find ourselves returning to that thought. Sometimes literally and sometimes in a laughing "well duh!" kind of reverence. Ketchikan receives 160 inches a year (read that as 13 + feet a year,) Juneau also receives a like amount except there more of it falls as snow because of their proximity to the great Juneau ice fields. We are now on the coast near Sitka just off the infamous Gulf of Alaska. As we got closer and closer to the coast the NOAA weather radio day after day consistently announced the current weather "Sitka, rain."

Coming from Seattle we are well set for the rain and we have a great dodger/bimini that closes us in pretty good even at the wheel. We have hot water and a working heater again. But, it gets a little tiring and the constant cold wears you out. Plus as I gaze out at the mountains and the sea looking for wildlife and vistas I find myself a bit irked that so much is cloaked from sight in the mist and waves. Nothing can beat a clear blue near windless day to spot bears and whales or even an occasional moose. ~sigh~

A couple of years ago as we made our way north towards the Queen Charlotte Islands we spoke with a man who told us in early July he had turned south out of Alaska in search of warm weather. Now I understand. We definitely want to make it Sitka but our chosen route takes us down the seldom traveled outer passage. There are spots to tuck in but at places there is nothing between you and the Gulf other than your rain gear.

A year or so ago Bill and I went to a movie, the plot had Sandra Bullock going to Sitka with her secretary whose family home was there. When they arrived they were ferried from the airport in a beautifully restored and highly varnished wood runabout. The scenery was stupendous, blue skies and flat water as they whisked to his parents estate worthy home.

Now, I have not been there yet but from what I have seen of southeast it is much more realistic to imagine them being picked up by an old friend garbed in rain gear and knee high rubber boots (Juneau tennis shoes?") They would be loaded in along with a large portion of the immediate family a neighbor or two and a dog into a big aluminum boat perhaps with a homemade pilot house precariously affixed as some protection from the elements that was loaded to the gunwhales with the monthly haul from costco. As they untied from the dock they would lift the kicker motor up (they fished on their way over) kicking in the dual Evanrude 250's and roaring out of the harbor towards home.

Instead of the "estate" the fictional family lived in they would pull up to 1/4 mile long dock winding across the mudflats that accommodates the huge tidal swings here. The home they pour into would be made up of loosely designed and seemingly randomly connected boxes and eaves and they would file through the open door to the mud room where they would dutifully hang up all their dripping rain gear and kick off all the rubber boots into a pile. To allude to the status and wealth of the family there would be bench seat available to slip into to help kick off those boots. I joke here, I love Alaska but it sure isn't Ballard and this isn't the movies.

I look forward to Sitka as I have to each new and unique Alaska destination but, Mexico is looking better and better all the time. Of course in Mexico I will rewrite the whole scenario featuring a panga, pseudo breezes so stifling hot they make you swoon and a language barrier that confuses every conversation and leaves you pantomiming every thought even to your husband.

Talk to you soon, Kat


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

6/15 Elfin Cove. AKA Shilshole North.

Yesterday we made our way from Glacier Bay to an enchanted little town called Elfin Bay. Elfin Bay can only be reached by sea plane or boat. There are no roads or cars in E.B. and all the "roads" are boardwalks winding through the woods and from islet to islet. The boardwalks in fact were paid for at least in part by Alaska highway funds. The houses and out building's placement is dictated by the natural topography built up over and around tree's, huge roots, boulders and bits of beach.

The year round population ranges from 9 to 22 depending on who you talk to. In summer the place fills with summer home owners, guests at the handful of fishing lodges and cruising boaters like us.

After a walk around town we had a quick lunch at Coho's Bar and Grill where we met the chef at one of the lodges. His name is Collin and he lives in Mount Lake Terrace. There is only one restaurant in E.B but Collin extended an invitation to the lodge for dinner as their latest charter group had left that morning and so he had room for dinner. Afterwards Bill and I were tucking in for a deserved nap when we heard a boat coming in. Looking out the window we recognised Ponderosa from E dock at Shilshole. We have been doggedly trying to catch up with Ponderosa and Panta Rei (F dock friends) since we left home 10days after their two boats departed. Both boats are also headed south to Mexico and on to the South Pacific as are we (Sherry and Bob on Ponderosa and Karen and Larry on Panta Rhei.)

We had a walk through the towns boardwalk with all of them and met an interesting local who regaled us with a one hour+ at times hysterical near monologue/tour of the town. Then thinking fast we tracked down Collin and asked if he had room for 6 instead of 2 for dinner! He happily he opened the doors wider coming up on the fly with a wonderful meal of fresh seafood chowder, a choice of Rib Eye or King Salmon, string beans with blue cheese and red onion, fresh shrimp rice pilaf and warm rolls. We were all in heaven catching up on our travels and travails in the warm dinning room of the big lodge-complete with a stunning view of the cove and the mouth of South Inian Strait. Hopefully the first of many meals together in the miles and months to come.

We knew Karen and Larry pretty well before from F dock but it was really our first chance to sit down with Sherry and Bob. Plus Panta Rhei and Ponderosa have taken an opposite path through Southeast so everyone was able to offer up tidbits on where they had been for those still on their way there. Navigational tips and where the best laundry is and other important cruisers trivia are always priceless commodities.

This morning we crept away from the dock while they were still sleeping (we needed to catch a tide) poked our nose out into the Gulf of Alaska for the first time and headed to Pelican. Pelican is a tiny town trying desperately not to die. Like many cannery towns of BC and Southeast the loss of the main employer has had a huge impact on Pelican. We have visited several of the coastal ghost towns as we moved north.

In Pelican when the fish processing plant closed it left a three distinct groups of people: 1)the locals who are devastated by unemployment, alcoholism and a struggle to build a new economic base, 2) the local natives who are devastated by the loss of employment, the loss of their historical fishery and rampant alcoholism and 3) the new locals with money enough to build their dream home and retire in the beauty of the place. As we walked through town pasted on the front screen door of a native home was a bumper sticker that read "I would rather my daughter be a whore than my son be a fishing guide." The as we walked the boardwalk through town we came upon a couple fighting loudly in the street. The interesting thing was not that they were arguing loudly in the middle of the day in the middle of the boardwalk in the middle of town about things "illegal" and one having "saved the other from a certain prison stay" or the expletive filled references to each others heritage, education and lack of reasoning and intention but, that they referered to each other as A)being a sorry excuse for a mayor and B) not any better for someone who is superintendent of schools." Welcome to Pelican!
Not to make light of it. The town is struggling and in a place where everyone lives along a 3/4 mile boardwalk who's front doors open facing each other in a town with only a post office, a marina, a cafe open till 3pm one fishing lodge/bar/restaurant and one roadhouse bar I suspect personalities rub regularly. We payed our morage at City Hall, were warmly welcomed at the diner and nearly everyone says hi and waves as we passed by.

Monday, June 14, 2010

6/13 Hoonah and Glacier Bay

We arrived today back in Hoonah from our weeks stay in Glacier Bay. The weather cooperated for the first few days while we checked in at the Park and saw our first glaciers.

Our trip from Hoonah to Glacier Bay was filled with wildlife. There were whales off in the distance all across Icy Strait and several puffins. Then we began to see the sea otters. They were everywhere on our crossing and throughout the lower part of the park. They are a little shy and hard to get too close to. But they do a funny little head stretch up out of the water when they want to take a look at you, sort of like a prairie dog coming up out of his hole.

The views were amazing in the bright sunlight. Mountains farther than the eye can see. We spent one night anchored right at the base of Reid Glacier. The winds at a glacier are interesting. They come rolling down off the glacier faces with gusto. The wind blew a steady strong blow with little variation on strentgth or direction. No flutter or winding just a straight down your throat blow. It was steady thru the aftenoon all through the night. In the wee hours of the morning there was a lull but by the time we pulled anchor at 630am it was blowing straight off the face the same strong steady ~cold~ blow.

The next morning we headed farther "up bay" to John Hopkins Glacier in John Hopkins Inet and further north into Tarr Inlet where it terminates at both Grand Pacific Glacier and Margorie Glacier. We couldnt get very close to John Hopkins because of a seasonal closure for seal pupping but at Marjorie we were able to get up quite close to the glacier face.
It isnt wise to get too close though as the face is constantly calcing off pieces into Tarr Inlet. We spent quiet a while working our way up and drifting with the current down along the face while listening to the cracking and booming of the face. Sometimes it sounds like a gun shot or an explosion and though we were seemingly close to the face in reality we were at such a distance that by the time the sound could reach our ears the ice was in or nearly into the bay.
We has met another sailing couple back in Prince Rupert on "High Maintanance Too" who took a expedition cruise to the face of Marjorie and saw us there (we had no idea they were there) they took some photos as we were setting sale away fromthe face from the deck of the expedition boat. They ran into us again at Hoonah and brought over two pictures of Island Bound undersail in front of the glacier!

After the glaciers we took a break and spent two night at Blue Mouse Cove. The weather began to change but I wanted to get some more kayaking in and was hoping to see some wildlife. From Blue Mouse Cove it is possible to go thru a cut into a wilderness area that is closed to all motorized vehicles. We set off in the afternoon and the weather was holding so (at my suggestion) we decided once we were out of the cut to make a loop around and back in the second cut that we had been able to see from our boat earlier. Unfortunatly neither of us had taken a close look at the chart before setting out on this expedition. What looked like a short loop out and back in turned into a three hour haul. The tide changed, from slack to against us, the wind came up, the no see ums followed us in clouds and the boat was no where in site. When we finally rounded yet another point and using the binoculars were finally able to see Island Bound off in the distance I am not sure which of us was more relieved. I suspect Bill was getting more worried than he let on and my tennis elbow had been shrieking at me for a long time. Next time we will make a better plan. It was actually quite stupid but seemed so simple at the time. It is exactly how people end up in dire straits in the wilderness. We were never really in any danger but I was begining to get seriously worried.
The weather continued to turn nastier and nastier. After Blue Mouse Cove we headed up the east arm of Glacier Bay towards Muir Glacier but the weather turned us back. We spent two night in the rain and wind at North Sandy Cove then our park pass was up and it was time to go. Again through the lower part of the park we saw whales and pufins and otters. I saw my first sleeping whale in the park...they are just there, barely moving at the surface. Slow breaths and no diving....we came quite close to one before we could see well enough to realize it was a whale. Then as we were leaving the park three big whales surfaced quite near our boat.....all three abreast close enough to see the barnicles. I could clearly see the closest ones tail fins and they slipped below on a shallow breath right under the starboard side of the boat. I was surprised that we took them by surprise assuming they would know right where we were but it sure seemed like we were a surprise.
Back in Hoonah now to do some laundry and get a few groceried then off to Sitka and hopefully to the hotsprings. kat

Friday, June 4, 2010

Yeah we have heat!!!!!

Oh Happy Day!

Bill is the King of mechanics and a world class figurer-outer. We now have heat and hot water and the little outboard works too.

We pulled into Juneau Tuesday after a bit of re-planning. It turns out there is a fixed bridge across Gasteneau Channel from Juneau to Douglas. The bridge is 50ft tall per the book and 68ft tall per the harbor master (at a zero tide.) We are 63 feet tall and it wasn't low tide. So we are in a slip in Douglas on the south side of the bridge. it is actually quite lovely and not the cruise ship hell that Juneau can be this time of year. Douglas is quiet and rural and there are no amenities really. There is water and power at the docks but no shower, no grocery, no laundry. Juneau is 3 miles away.

We were her no more than 10 minutes when a fellow on the dock came and introduced himself. His name is Jack and he lives aboard here in Douglas. (Great town.) He has been a wealth of information and also immediately offered the use of the washer and dryer at his daughter Shannons' house a few blocks away. So our first night here I took my little cart full of laundry to Shannons' while Bill fixed the outboard.

As i walked out of the marina parking lot a woman stopped and asked if I needed a ride. (Great town.) After telling her I only had a few blocks to go she insisted so off we went. She helped me find the house....907 was all I knew and dropped me there. I knocked on the door and a sort of bleary eyed man answered. I told him that "Jack sent me to do laundry at his daughters house. (I didn't yet have her name.) He looked at me oddly and then said with a note of bewilderment "my dryer doesn't even work." Turns out I was at the wrong 907. Then I stumbled and knocked over my cart and spilled liquid laundry detergent all over the grass at the bottom of his steps. I stuttered and fumbled and tried to insist on cleaning it up. After protest he went into the house and came out with one paper towel (this is about 2 cups of goo) still insisting that I needn't bother. I kept protesting that rain was coming and that he would soon have three feet of suds in his driveway but he didn't seem worried so off I went. (Great town)

I soon found the right place and was introduced to Shannon who was in the process of moving out of her house with her son Jack. She told me I was welcome and set about finishing her packing and left me there with the laundry in the dryer and the remote control to her big TV. She also gave me her number and said we were welcome to use the place all we wanted...laundry, showers whatever. (Great town.)

Wednesday we set off early by bus into down town Juneau to find the shipping office where our heater parts had been sent to. After working our way around we found the address but there was no shipping office there The shop next door said it had gone out of business more than a year ago. OK, so now we were on foot in down town with no idea where our package was. We first looked for the alternative shop that had taken over some of their business but they weren't open for another 1 1/2 hours. So we hit the pay phone to try and track the package down. Amazingly it only took one call to find out where they had shipped it. It had been sent to UPS as an alternate but when we called them they are only open for business from 9 to 10 am and they are 12 miles out of town in the "valley." The UPS guy said he would be there at 5pm if we wanted to come and pick it up OK. We had some time to wander old town and buy a few t-shirts and I was able to hit a noon AA meeting (Great Town) and then grocery shop before working our way by bus back to the boat and then out to the "Valley."

We didn't know how long it would take by bus or how far we would have to walk from the bus line so off we went. Riding the bus in a strange place is a great way to get to know a town and an even better way to talk with the locals. The problem is that about the time you figure it all out it is time to head to another place. SO, we missed our stop and arrived more than an hour early and were left to sit in the cold wind in the concrete doorway of the local UPS center. But as I write this in our warm and snug cabin, squeaky clean after a hot shower it was worth every mile.

After we were done installing the parts this morning we went into Juneau and attended "Celebration." Its a once every two year gathering of all most of the separate native groups from around Alaska. They come form all around state in their regalia and have 4 days have singing and dancing (the little kids were soooo cute.) There was was Indian fry bread and a juried art show and an exhibition hall with native crafts people. The best part was all the native costumes. I missed a great photo op later while we were waiting for the bus. A couple of native women came by...all dressed in their finery -button blankets sweeping the ground, seal skin boots.....carrying a paper holder full of coffee drinks from local coffee stand back to "Celebration." Old meets new! Wish I had captured the shot.

Tomorrow we leave Juneau and head to Glacier Bay. We were very lucky to score a park pass by phone. We weren't sure we could go because you have to have a permit and we knew we couldn't arrange one until we got close. They only give out 25 permits. 25 boats total not per day. Staggering them as they come and go over their allotted 7 days. They pre-book 15 and then give out 10 on short notice. We were able to slide in on a 6 day pass - if we can check in by 6/7 at 1000am. Its a two day trip, then we have to find an anchorage just outside of the park in order to be there for an orientation at 1000am. If we miss orientation they give our spot away to someone on the standby list. Happily it should be a simple two days there basking in the glory of our warm cabin!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

5/31 Sawyer Glacier

One full month off the dock today. We passed the 57th parallel as we moved up Tracy Arm to North and South Sawyer Glaciers. It was a 21km one way trip and we knew if the ice was too thick we might not make it to the glacier face. The high cliffs all around us were wonderful. Waterfalls crashing towards the sea from what seemed like miles above. The powers that had passed by millions of years ago slowly grinding and pushing and growing huge chasms and fissures in solid rock is mind boggling.

North Sawyer Glacier has retreated well onto land but we passed it on our port side as we slowly made our way towards the face of South Sawyer Glacier. It was weird really. Being on your own boat working your way slowly through cliffs and ice bergs. The bergs getting thicker and thicker.

Bright white bergs, glowing blue bergs and thousands of small bergie bits. It took us 6 hours to go 21 km. We were passed by two cruise ships and one expedition boat all likely coming from Juneau. As we got within sight of the glacier it seemed that we couldn't make it further. The pieces were bigger and closer together...we could hear them banging against the hull. The guide book suggested you post a look out on the bow with a boat hook to push away the bergs but the ones that were small enough to push didnt really matter and the ones that needed pushing wouldnt budge. The expedition boat passed us at about 8k off to our starboard side, hugging close to the cliff as we were reaching the end of our ability to move through the ice. It looked like there was a path along the cliff and he made it wider so we slipped in behind him and worked farther up.

The huge cruise ship that had passed us earlier just slowed down to almost nothing and pushed through. But the ice filled in so fast behind it that following it was not really an option plus following it close would mean we would only have a birds eye view of the ass end of a cruise ship. So we worked our way over behind the smaller excursion boat and slipped into the empty spaces he left in his wake.

By this time we had worked close enough we could see the glacier face pretty well. There was one large piece that calved off as we approached but we were still at a safe distance. Many of the pieces floating by had a seal pup or two that mom had stashed while she fished. They just stared at us as we passed by. The ice is startlingly beautiful. The shapes and sizes are endless. There was an odd familiarity to them. At a glance they reminded me of a thousand origami animals floating in the current. Large and small peace cranes and dragons and birds of every design. And every piece slowly changing into something new as the vantage point shifted. And the noise! I never imagined that the ice bergs would make so much noise. A constant rush of clicking and sloshing and splashing and dripping as they all swirled and ebbed along the currents and with the motion of the passing boats.

Eventually the ice got too thick (and Kat got more worried) so we turned around and headed back towards our anchorage. It was an awesome experince, the sun stayed with us all day inspite of the forcast and we even spotted a couple of humbacks on our way to and again home from the glacier. We are both tired.....all that work keeping Island Bound safe...tomorrow we head to Juneau.

5/30 Ice Bergs!

We left Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay early this morning after taking a day off to just relax. The crabbing didn't pan out but the kayaking was good. We went in on low tide and dug clams and mussels for dinner. Were a little concerned about PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) so Bill had a bite or two first....then waited a few hours. He didn't die so sauted them up!

It has been absolutley glorious weather for several days. A little foggy early but cleared off to t-shirt weather. Which is good since we still have no heater. Dug out the solar shower bag and had lovely warm showers. Wasnt expecting to use it until we headed south so it was way down deep in the v-birth but worth the unpacking.

Oh and we saw whales today! They were some bit away but always worth the time to ogle. Now we sit at Tracy Arm Cove at the opening of Tracy Arm from Holkam Bay and from the cockpit asIi write this I can see icebergs floating by! We spotted them as we were closing in on the entrance. Not sure at first if we were really seeing them or not. They are beautiful and we suspect they are just the beginning. We even heard one crack and tumble a bit off into the bay. Even the small ones are loud. There is something rather weird in being in your own boat in waters with ice bergs. Like maybe this isn't quite right. (Think Titanic.) But we will be cautious and see how close we can get to Sawyer Glaciers tomorrow. Sometimes the ice is too thick to make it to the glaciers themselves. Will let you know how it goes.

5/27 Finally! We are really in Alaska

Finally! We really are in Alaska. We stopped early at McHenry anchorage to enjoy the afternoon of good weather but discovered that our little dingy outboard wasnt working - at all. So instead we spent the afternoon in vain tearing it apart. But after that headache we were rewarded with our first whale. A great big humpback just off our starboard side. He was feeding with long slow rolls in the current leading up to Snow Passage.

Later in the day we navigated our way through the infamous Wrangell narrows. The narrows is 21 miles long and has more than 60 navigational aids to lead you through. The big cruise ships don't go through Wrangell Narrows but the smaller ones do and working tugs and cargo boats do as well. The guide books painted it as a very intricate and sometimes harrowing route and warn of keeping a lookout behind as the cruise ships sneak up on you and speed passed extremely close. The route really wasn't that tough. Long and intricate but really just a series of bouys and range marks leading you along without difficulty. At the end of the pass we spent the night right off the narrows in a little indentation called Scow bay. Nothing much to write about it was like being anchored off a loading dock but was out of the traffic and well staged for entering Fredrick Sound.

We left early in the morning to stay out of potential high winds. We were slowly chugging along north of Petersburg when I casually said to Bill. What kind of a bird is that. Its sure a big bird. A really big bird...Ii could see the odd little wake it was leaving and something just didn't look right. It wasn't, it was a deer. A little guy still wearing his spots. There was a small island off our starboard side and it looked like he was heading across to a larger island. As we slowed to take pictures he turned to avoid us and passed right behind the boat. As we were still staring open mouthed in wonder we saw a scrimmage line of small boats speeding towards us. There was a big salmon derby for the Memorial Day weekend and the starting clock must have just chimed because there was a whole pack of them racing to their favorite hole. We were too far off to see but wondered just how much of a gauntlet the little fellow had to run.

After, as we headed to the top of Frederick Sound we saw our first glacier in the distance. The waters open up from Frederick Sound into the bottom of Stephens passage. and along Admiralty Island. It is a large deep body of water that is ringed by mountains in every direction. It was a gloriously sunny day. Blue sky, warmth, mountains glowing in the sun light or seeming to float in a shimmer of cold hazy air in the far distance. As we crossed the widest part to the anchorage we were headed to we found the Humpbacks. Lots. Not sure how many where there but at one point we could hear them breathing there loud exclamations of air all around us. There was at least one calf with mom who was gargantuan. We slowed the boat to a crawl watching them rise and roll and dive. Turning ourselves in circles on the deck again and again as the sound of their breath spun us around and around and back again.

After that there wasn't much that could make a better day - until we chugged into Cannery Cove for the night. The cove is large and very protected. With a large drying flat at the head opening up into a bowl that spills from a huge snowy mountainside. The sounds of the water falls came floating across the cove as the sun moved over the highest snow covered hill. The drying flat was full of birds and looked like prime bear country.

After anchoring we broke out the new kayaks for the first time on the trip and soon were paddling off to investigate. The kayaks were a treat and great to finally get them out of their bags. It was an interesting prospect though. Trying to figure out how to get off the boat into an inflatable kayak that was new to us. We weren't sure of the mechanics of it or how steady they would be. The boat of course is quite a ways off the water. We use a fender step tied low to get in and out of the dingy but stepping down into a kayak that might fold in two? Well they didn't fold and in fact are pretty stable. We lowered the dingy into the water so we could climb in it first but i decided to try wedging my kayak between the boat and the dinghy and neither one of us ended up in the drink and I can already tell they are going to be great fun.

Tomorrow morning early we are going to try and slip quietly into them and head into the cove for some wild life viewing then if the tide is out far enough there looked to be some good sandy ground so we will try our hands at digging a pail of manila clams. This is the Alaska I was hoping for.

5/22 Prince Rupert to Ketchikan

  • We motored in to Ketchikan the afternoon of the 22nd after spending 4 nights in Prince Rupert. The stay in PR was longer than we would have chosen but first we had to trouble shoot the heater problem then make arrangements for the heater parts to be sent on to Ketchikan. By that time a storm front had rolled in and we were stuck there until it passed. So we wandered around PR, took in the museum, did a few odd jobs and projects and celebrated my birthday early. For my birthday I got a lovely pair of rubber ankle boots, lime green with blue and pink flowers. They are so ugly they are almost cute. But not quite. But they will keep my feet dry for the rest of the trip without causing me to stumble up and down the companion way stairs as my big rubber boots seemed to do. Something about the extra size of boots makes me all stumbly. Or perhaps it is just my normal clumsiness. Bill also managed to sneak in some birthday shopping and presented me with a baseball hat that says "spank me I've been nautical." It goes well with my new boots.

    We made arrangements with customs to stop at Foggy Bay on our way from PR to Ketchikan. It is unlawful to stop anywhere inside of AK without first clearing customs in Ketchikan unless you prearrange a stop over in Foggy Bay. It made for two relatively short days for us instead of one long one. Foggy Bay was quiet. We were alone when we arrived but were joined by two other boats later in the day. Then off to AK!

    AK is different. Big. Very big. BC has a lot of wild territory and empty anchorages when you are not in the popular areas like Desolation Sound but as soon as we were in AK it was as if someone just enlarged the horizon. The hills are taller, the mountains off in the distance in every direction and there are rocks and small islands everywhere. It made me thankful we have done all the sailing we have prior to this to know our navigational skills are up to par. There is lots see and do in AK and lots of things to run onto if one isn't careful. We still have not seen any marine mammals to speak of. It is a bit disappointing to me but I am ever hopeful that today will be the day!

    We lucked out on arrival in Ketchikan as a customs official was on the dock we pulled into looking for another boat. He saw our bright red Hydro vane wind vane from afar and thought we were a foreign flagged vessel so came over to investigate. So we had cleared through Customs almost before we had the lines tied. He was even able to give us directions to the freight company we needed to find to pick up our heater parts. Unfortunately the parts had not arrived and it is Saturday so we are here at least until Monday when hopefully we can install the parts and make sure they are the fix we are hoping for.

    It is wonderfully sunny here and the long underwear and sweaters are in the laundry to be done before we leave. The weather still has been quite nice for us, barely any rain underway. But I did give some thought to my next birthday which should either be French Polynesia or Central America. Both would be much warmer environs. It was a happy thought. I will turn 50 some where warm and likely we will have made some cruising friends by then too. Kat