Peter’s Journals

***NEW JOURNAL PAGE for 2015-16***

Monday, October 26th, 2015

***Our journal page has changed.  For the latest  journals & photos please click below and you will be re-directed to our new S/V Logbook site:

Thank you for following us–enjoy the armchair sailing!!

March 15, 2014 Hot Tropics!

Monday, March 17th, 2014

146 NM sailing day yesterday, high mileages continue as we make our way across the well established trade winds. Screaming along at 8 knots and knocking back the miles at incredible rate. Got HOT today–boat must stay closed up below on the ocean for the spray. Down to bathing suits. Perfect GRIB scenario all the way to the equator. Tacos for dinner tonight!

0329 Zulu
17 13′ 84″ N
126 33′ 42″ W
SOG 8.2 kts

Jan 4, 2012 Wrangell to St. John Harbor

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Winter voyage to Baranof begins today!  Last night the wind blew up strong and gusty until 0500 in the morning.  I was anxious to start, watching the clock closely.  The daylight hours are so precious–about 6-7 hours for good, safe sailing.  Throw in an adverse current (almost a full moon now), any winds over 30 knots, and the desire to seek anchorages early–and the days become very narrow indeed…

The morning light broke cool and clear with brilliant rays of sunshine.  The wind left us when the sun came up.  For the past few nights the wind howls during the dark hours, and settles a bit during the daylight hours.  Our sailing day begins at 0830 and ends preferably by 1430 or 1500.  By 1530 it is dusk and 1630 it is full dark night.  I’ve decided on a route through the Rocky Pass.  That way, each leg to Baranof between safe anchorages is no more than 20-22 miles apart from each other.

**for a full account of the voyage and our time at Baranof, read Kelsey’s journals!

Jan 2, 2012 Heritage Harbor to Inner Harbor, Wrangell

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Today was a “best case scenario” day, when the good old ship’s engine fired right up on the first crank!  The day broke clear and sunny, with temps around 42.  It felt like an early spring day, and the seas all around SE Alaska are glassy and friendly.  Kelsey and I made the best of our situation and “went for a boat ride” to the inner harbor, where we can better access the town for all the trillion errands we need to run.  “Privateer” glided out of her slip as if she were steering herself, and perked up as we exited the harbor.  We are so excited for our winter adventure!

No power at the inner harbor docks so we had to burn a long fire in the wood stove–very nicely drying the boat out!  There is nothing better in the world to dry a boat with.

Jan. 1, 2012 Wrangell Prep Day

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

From the windows of the plane, SE Alaska began to reveal herself through a layer of mist and cloud.  The ocean herself is in her winter colors–a steely cobalt blue, cold and metallic.  Upon our descent into Ketchikan (the first stop on the Seattle to Anchorage “milk run’) the bays and straits from above showed whitecaps and uniform swells.  The mountains are all blasted by ice and snow.  Our world is blue, white, and hundreds of shades of gray.  On the snowy runway in Ketchikan, we picked up a sports team from the local high school, loaded the mail, and eerily unloaded a metal coffin which was forklifted to a nearby hangar.  The small bush planes that criss-cross the Ketchikan waterfront like mosquitoes in summer are all sitting in a forlorn row, covered in a thick layer of ice and snow.

From Ketchikan it was a quick 24-minute flight to Wrangell.  Again, SE Alaska in her austere winter colors, tidelines wracked in ice and booming white rings of surf around all the windward shorelines.  We were greeted by a winter wonderland in Wrangell!  Light flakes of snow fell through the low, diffuse sunbeams.  “Privateer” sits proudly just as we left her two months before–the full boat cover really did a great job protecting the boat!  We unpacked our 350 pounds of gear from the plane onto “Privateer” and I promptly fell asleep for the next 18 hours–the best sleep I’ve gotten all winter!  It’s great being back on the boat again.  And it’s great being back in Alaska,  preparing for a true winter adventure!  I woke up briefly at midnight to the bursts of fireworks glowing down through the butterfly hatch.  2012!

In the morning we cooked up a mess of bacon, eggs, and coffee.  It was an excellent way to start our new year in Alaska!  Afterward, we walked up to the trailer park to get our firewood from our friend Jerry.  He’s letting us store our wood in a murderer’s shack–in the trailer next door.  Literally.  After a second round of coffee and catching up with Jerry, we loaded a big fish tote up with wood, hoisted it all in the back of his pick-up truck, and drove down to the harbor.  Jerry and I slid the tote down the ramp and across the icy dock, like a big sleigh.  Afterward Kelsey and I got to work stowing all our wood below, got the dodger up, and organized the vessel for sea.  We got up a hot fire, and we’re comfortable and toasty on board now.  All my attention is directed toward a safe and successful voyage to Baranof.  So far, the year if off to a terrific start!

The short days in Alaska are not as bad as people make them out to be.  Today, it got light at around 0800, and dark arounf 1500.  By 1600 it was very dark.  So, we still have 7 hours of perfectly good light–even close as we are to the shortest day of the year.  No problem.

Outside, a winter gale is howling through the harbor.  We’re all snug here, and we’ll wait out any bad storms before we set out for Baranof.  We still have a few days more in Wrangell to work on the engine and supply food.  2012 is shipping up to be a good one, and we can’t wait for our winter adventure!

April 23, 2011 Tyndall Cove to Shag Cove (Glacier Bay)

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

This evening the weather cleared after a day of soft, silent rain.  Tyndall Cove was a peaceful place where we rested up for a few days with a moose.  Each night he came down to the shore and bedded down under a tree near the boat.  Kelsey and I had a lazy day for the first time in a long while.  We played a few games of Scrabble, finished our books, and luxuriated by the hot wood stove.  As soon as the sun started peeking out, I got the itch to check out the “next cove over,” Shag Cove, just a few miles to the east.  We had more of an evening boat ride than a day’s run.  That evening boat ride turned into the “fantastic Alaskan magical safari!”  We bid farewell to our moose in Tyndall Cove and steamed out into Geike Inlet, where sunlight shimmered on shaving-cream moguls, high snowfields, and craggy matterhorn-type peaks in all quadrants.  As we entered Shag Cove we saw a humpback whale, a grizzly bear, a whole herd of mountain goats, a pod of dolphins, and a flock of ptarmigans all AT THE SAME TIME.  The grizzly bear was lumbering along the beach at a pretty good clip.  When he smelled our wood smoke he looked up and hauled ass over the snow, away from the boat.  This was a big-ass bear, all muscle and fat, none-the-scrawnier after the long winter in Glacier Bay.  Our evening motor made enough hot water the Kelsey and I each got to enjoy a hot shower in the cockpit, under the last rays of the evening sun.  We can look up from our anchorage and see the mountain goats grazing the sheer cliffs a thousand feet above, on Marble Mountain.  One of them is bedded down right near the boat, too!  You really have to hand it to Alaska!

March 11, 2011 Philip Inlet to Fancy Cove

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Last night we were shaken out of bed at 1am by a wind squall.  I checked the boat’s position at anchor and tuned into the radio to get a weather report.  Suddenly, a voice crackled through the static:

“A strong earthquake has taken place in the Pacific Basin near Japan.  It is believed that a low-level tsunami has been generated… Areas along the central BC coast are affected… Begin evacuating marinas, low-lying areas, and remote inlets immediately.”

Needless to say, Kelsey and I were instantly wide awake!!!  Tsunami!  Here we were, in a remote, low-lying inlet on the central BC coast…  The entrance to Philip Inlet, I found upon entering, was way shallower than charted, and also charted incorrectly with a few rocky surprises.  I didn’t want to hazard running the boat aground in a squall in the black of night, in a tight rocky channel.  I also figured that the amount of water that could shoot through the entrance to the inlet during a tsunami would more likely give us a quick “elevator ride” in the anchorage, and not a devastating wall of water.  Ahh… the choices.  In the end, I decided to risk staying put and facing a potential surge.  A strange satisfaction came over me that if the shit really did hit the fan, a tsunami would be just about the classiest way to end my sailing career!  Nothing ever did happen to us, though, but I sure lost a lot of sleep!  We’re out of touch with the rest of the world, no FM radio signals or anything, so we’ll just have to see what really did happen when we reach civilization.

This morning was pouring rain, and after the loss of sleep during the night, we napped through the first daylight hours.  The wood stove sat cold after going out during the night, but it was nice and toasty under the covers!  Forecast: winds SE 30-40 kts, Rain.  Stoically, Kelsey and I rose up and donned our foul weather gear.  We set up the main with a double reef and sailed from Philip Inlet and out into Fitz Hugh Sound.  I found another rock in the uncharted entrance, and my heart almost came out of my mouth when the depth sounder indicated 5 feet, 4 inches deep, and I saw a big white rock slide under the boat in the murky brown water.  Our keep draws 5 feet, so we only had 4 inches to spare!  Once again, this confirmed my good decision to stay put last night.  This morning the tsunami alert was still in effect, so we called our sail the  “morning evacuation” of Philip Inlet, and we made for the 1,000 plus foot deep waters of Fitz Hugh Sound.  All day long we had a wonderful following wind and sea.  The rain even stopped, and we sailed the day under a low gray sky, filtered sunlight hitting snow-blasted mountain peaks all around.  Fitz Hugh Sound gave the aura of a polar landscape as we hissed along at 5-6 knots.  We never did get the 40 knot winds that were expected.  Are the Canadians just over-reactionary about weather events?  Tsunamis, 40 knot gales–all of this we never saw!  I was very thankful for our present conditions, and “Privateer” balanced nicely downwind with full jib and double-reefed main.  We sailed straight up the middle of the sound, and near the end of the run we could look back way off, and see where the day’s sail began, at the base of some distant mountains.  It was beautiful.  At the top end of Fitz Hugh, before turning off into Lama Passage–almost as a gift–we were joined by a dozen of dolphins for an hour or so.  It is incredible to sit on the bowsprit platform and watch them swim just 2 feet below you!  I like to think that some of these dolphins are the same ones that greeted “Silent Partner” into Fitz Hugh Sound back in 2003.

In Lama Pass we quickly doused all sail as we tucked into Fancy Cove for the night tonight.  The rain has started up again as the first blue puffs of smoke came out our stack, and we’re warming up down below after another bout of luck with perfect timing!

**note: we didn’t learn about the terrible Japan tsunami until we reached Shearwater several days later.

March 10, 2011 Walker Cove to Philip Inlet

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Today we made the dreaded “crossing” of Cape Caution, our most exposed section of seas on in Inside Passage!  Today was an “it’s as good as it gets for March” weather day.  Still a leftover slop from yesterday’s 60 knot SE storm that swept through here.  But there was enough of a window–just wide enough!–for us to sneak across in between storms.  Two huge storms are currently battering the north and south BC coast, and the central coast where we are was in a state of limbo until the evening.  We reefed the main down and made all haste for the cape!  It turned into a beautiful day and we even lost our wind for awhile, and had to motor past the cape in sort of an anti-climax.  I am extremely grateful that yesterday’s 24 foot seas out here are only 10 feet today, all swell and no wind waves.  Kelsey blasted the air horn as we gained the cape, and crossed into the wilderness of the Northern BC coast.  When we came abeam the Egg Island light station, Kelsey “cracked the egg” as we sailed by.  She cracked one of our Van Anda eggs into the sea in traditional recognition of a successful crossing.  Almost before we knew it, “Privateer” sailed into the lee of Calvert Island where the swells instantly died off.  For an hour there was a flurry of commercial shipping activity: helicopters landing on Egg Island, several close passes with big ships heaving out into the ocean swells, and one of the Alaska State Ferry “blue canoes” passed us a mile off.  We made a bee-line for Philip Inlet and tucked safely within its confines by late afternoon.

March 9, 2011 Mamalillacula to Walker Bay Cove

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

In the morning we watched the winds kick up a big ugly chop as they howled down the entrance to Knight Inlet.  Things were blowing up to 50 knots in the Queen Charlotte Strait, with 7-foot rough seas reported.  EH!  We got the wood stove going and sat by the bright bed of coals all through the morning, and waited.  By noon things were quieted down, so we slipped out into the Strait on the last of the ebb tide.  Magically, the sun broke out and cast dozens of rainbows on us the rest of the day!  “Privateer” sailed like a smooth freight train through the chop, under jib alone.  We clipped along at a steady 7 knots down the entire Queen Charlotte Strait.  I even decided to forego a stop at Port Hardy for oil and fuel, as we have hardly used any since we left and there’s another week of good south-easterlies in the forecast!  Anyone who says you’ll end up motoring most of the Inside Passage has apparently not made the trip during the favorable March-April winds!  And it’s a good thing, too, because during the dog-days of summer with its cluttered anchorages and calm winds, “Privateer” will be sailing a mellow cruise or hiding out in some paradise while the other vessels motor the whole way to Alaska!  For now, we have the entire Inside Passage to ourselves.  All the anchorages are empty, and every day we have a brisk wind at our backs!  Amen.  We reached Walker Cove just as the lat light faded from the cedar trees lining the “inner sanctuary,” where we threw down the hook and got a roaring fire going.  Preparations are now being made for tomorrow’s crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound, past Cape Caution.

March 4, 2011 Layover Day in Silva Bay

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Today the weather sucked and it blew so hard and rained so hard that we had no inclination to go anywhere or even get off the boat!  We stayed by the wood stove all day.  For the record (for those who wonder what it’s like to have a REAL stove on the boat)–it’s after 11 in the afternoon and I just though about putting on a pair of pants, but I probably won’t.  It’s sleeting outside and I’ve been going up on deck in bare feet and underwear to check the anchor and top up the deck iron.  The cold actually feels refreshing after luxuriating in the dry, evenly-warmed boat!  There is absolutely no substitute for a wood stove on this chilly Pacific Northwest day.