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Thursday, July 8, 2010

6/24 Uh Oh! The Coat Guard is looking for us.

We spent the last two days being lazy at the warm springs. When we got here the place was packed so we anchored in a nearby cove and lazed around for the evening. The next morning after getting some bread started we took the dingy in and made the our way to the springs. They are small and primitive but wonderfully relaxing and the setting was stunning. There is a huge falls tumbling into the cove at the tiny town of Baronof . The springs themselves are right next to the falls high up on a ridge. They are easy to find just a half mile through the forest mostly over a cedar boardwalk (wear your boots for the muddy spots). There is no bath house just two lovely pools in the woods. Mud, dirt, rocks, boulders, mosquitos and two terraced pools of hot spring water at the end of a path. Ahhhhhh, very relaxing and it felt wonderful on my back.

Late in the afternoon we sat reading and relaxing from our soak when there was a "hello Island Bound" from outside the boat. That usually means there is someone we know who's just showed up in an anchorage or someones just come round to visit. Instead what I found when I went I popped my head out was the captain of a large power boat calling our name. They told us they recognized us from previous anchorages and that they had heard calls on Channel 16 USCG Sector Juneau announcing Island Bound as having been "reported overdue."

After thanking them Bill immediately called VHF CH 16 to the USCG to find out why in the world anyone would be looking for us. We gave them our location and explained we were in no distress. The officer on the radio was helpful, professional and reassuring. When we asked who had been looking for us he replied, "Stand by...." "um.....your mom. Over." We looked at each other still not understanding so asked "There are two of us on board.....who's mom called us in? over"........."please stand by....then " A Mary, over."

It is was Thursday and we hadn't left Sitka until Monday afternoon. How could my mom possibly be worried enough to call the USCG? I was emailing people back and forth through Sunday so we have only been away from communication for four days...less than that when the call would have had to originally gone out. I am confused and worried that there is something going on at home that I need to know about but from here there is no phone and no internet in Baronof.

It is now late afternoon and the nearest large town is more than a day away, maybe two. After going over the charts to see what our choices are we decide Kake is our closest option. We still don't know if they will have internet and we don't have a cell phone. Amazingly AK has next to no pay phones. Seems that it was no longer commercially viable for the local phone company to maintain the pay phones in this era of cell phones. In fact over the last year or so they have removed nearly every pay phone in southeast. I just try and reassure myself that some nice coast guard officer will be calling my mom to assure her we are fine and knowing that if it had actually been an emergency big enough to track us down then surely there would have been some kind of message! I of course will worry till I hear her voice.

The next morning we were off to Kake a Tlingit village of about 400. We will try and find a phone or possibly use the internet at the tribal center or a library. It takes us all day to get there and when we do it is late on a Friday afternoon. The Harbor Master offers up the phone but we are unable to make a long distance call and are also unable to reach an operator to try for a credit card call. Not giving up we ride our bikes into town to have some dinner and I decide to ask the woman who owns the (only) restaurant in town if she knows the secret of contacting the long distance operator. Warmly and openly she explains that she is a mom herself and has lots of roll over minutes...as long as i am not going to gab for an hour i am free to use her phone. She even tells me the best place for coverage...the end of the deck over looking the water or across the street near those trees."

So what happened? Now it makes sense but at the time I was surprised, confused, worried and a tiny little bit embarrassed. It seems that we had established a routine as we moved along. Our pattern had been to reach somewhere with internet and then send out a flurry of emails, blog updates and face book posts. Sometimes we would make phone calls and then before we left we would send off an quick note saying where we were headed and when we thought we would get there. In Sitka we broke the pattern! We left earlier than we had anticipated, I hadn't updated the blog and we didn't make any telephone calls or post where we were headed next. We didn't know we had a routine and again, we new exactly where we were! But moms have visions of boats floating empty in isolated anchorages and of over turned kayaks on lonely beaches. Plus with an ex-coastie son-in-law and a old friend nearby who is retired CG ..well the rest is history. The momentary embarrassment didn't matter a bit and the USCG was wonderful about the whole thing. It was great to hear moms voice and to find out that once she heard back from the USCG she was able to get some sleep.

Love, kat

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