Jan 9, 2012 Point Baker to Keku Anchorage

The announced time of sunrise was 0834 and sunset at 1534, and we cast the lines just as it was getting light enough to navigate.  We stretched the winter day to its outer limits, surprisingly even ourselves by running from 0730 until 1700, ticking the miles away and covering double the distance than anticipated.  The nautical gods shone upon us and granted us a safe, though not entirely comfortable, crossing of Sumner Strait and a wonderful day on the water.  Not long after setting out, we encountered confused, choppy seas at the Sumner confluence and it was slow going, making 2-3 knots.  A beautiful sunrise of pinks and oranges behind us, we soon headed toward a formidable, conspicuous glowing pink wall that was surely a snow cloud.  Pete asked if I was prepared to head into the teeth of winter.”  The reference made me shiver.

We passed through a snowstorm, brief yet brutal.  Enough snow blew around to cloud the dodger, cake onto Pete’s jacket and cover the cockpit in little confetti pieces.  Pete’s navigational preoccupations triumphed any physical discomforts he was feeling from the cold and the snow that blew fierce and whipped him in the face.  I made sure to liberally dispense the chocolate and hot tea and remained sheltered on the companionway stairs, under the dodger’s protection.  I gripped my hand warmers, squeezing all the possible warmth out them.  Perhaps we were both thinking about the hot springs in our future.  It was a relief to finally be in the calm, peaceful waters and unofficial wildlife refuge of Rocky Pass.  The sun came out in full force.  Shimmering flocks of birds caught our eye, darting about gracefully like schools of fish above water, their scales catching the sunlight.  This scene couldn’t be captured on film, only with the naked eye.  The day turned out to be gorgeous, certainly better than expected in the midst of all these winter storms.  Ignoring the cold and the light snow dusting on the west shore, it could otherwise have been summer.  We spotted a number of sea otters, later hearing on the radio that they have recently made a comeback on this part of the coast, though still considered an endangered species.  Optimum timing of the tides allowed the best transit we could have hoped for.  We often end up having to pause for hours waiting for a tidal change in this waterway which requires careful navigation due to shallow depths.  The full moon nearing, it was especially important to pay heed to the tides, with greater vertical movements during this moon phase.  Hitting the tides just right, we also made good speed, around 5.5 knots.  Toward the end of the day, it became a race against dark as we made our way up the Keku Strait.  Fortunately, we were headed towards a familiar anchorage, giving some reassurance as we carefully prodded our way the last mile in the near dark.  Full moon overhead and a snowstorm to cap off the day, we laid down our sleepy heads in anticipation of an early rise.

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