Jan. 1, 2012 Wrangell Prep Day

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!

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