The 10th Voyage of S/V Capella III

This Centennial Cruise takes us back to some of our favorite festivals and haunts in SW and SC Alaska.

25 July 2016 | McMullen Cove, Aialik Bay, KFNP
22 July 2016 | Northwestern Lagoon, Northwestern Fjord, Kenai Fjords NP
08 July 2016 | Seward
01 July 2016 | Seward, Alaska
25 June 2016 | Thunder Bay, Kenai Fjords NP, Alaska
21 June 2016 | Qikutulig Bay
20 June 2016 | Seldovia, Alaska
10 June 2016 | Seldovia, Alaska
05 June 2016 | Port Chatham, Alaska
02 June 2016 | Sunday Harbor, Port Dick, Alaska
29 May 2016 | Home Cove, Nuka Island, Kenai Fjords NP, Alaska
24 May 2016 | Seward AK
18 May 2016 | Thunder Bay, Kenai Fjords NP, Alaska
07 May 2016 | Seward AK
31 July 2015 | Gulf of Alaska
26 July 2015 | Midnight Cove/McCarty Cove, Kenai Fjords, Alaska
22 July 2015 | Tonsina, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
21 July 2015 | Kitoi Bay, Afognak Is., Alaska
19 July 2015 | Kitoi Bay, Kodiak IS, Alaska

Those Hardy Glacier Kayakers of Alaska

25 July 2016 | McMullen Cove, Aialik Bay, KFNP
This special edition posting is inspired by and dedicated to a group of water vessel enthusiasts, generally from the Lower 48, who travel long distances to experience paddling around in a kayak amid "calving" glaciers (sloughing ice off its' face) in remote Alaska. We (S/V Capella III) are currently holed up in McMullen Cove, just 10nm from the face of Holgate Glacier (site of kayakers' venue), in some of the most unstable weather we'€™ve encountered all summer. SouthEast (but swirling) winds are blowing 25kts. and erratic torrents of rain and yes, fog are present. The glacier habitually calves, depositing icebergs, growlers and bergy bits into the water, producing a significant wave depending on the size of the ice sloughed. Avoiding the ice and staying upright riding over the waves are the challenges the kayakers face. This is the perfect recipe for these (fool)hardy souls who seek this unique Alaskan adventure. Here is their story:
All day the radio has been alive with chatter from chartered tour boats of all sizes and varied missions, stating their intentions as they enter the inner sanctuary of the glaciers€: "€SECURITE, SECURITE! This is Callisto Explorer/Glacier Express/Spirit of Adventure (etc.) on 16 entering the Holgate Moraine from the SE of Schwab Island. Anyone traveling in the area are asked to contact us on Channel 16 to voice any concerns. Oh, and by the way, there are breaching whales everywhere out here, so be careful!" What this means to the convoy of kayakers fighting the inevitable headwinds in this inclement weather as they try to cross the moraine with these deep-keeled tour boats nearby is: HOLD ON TO EVERYTHING YOU HAVE and THINK ESKIMO ROLL! The ¼-mile visibility, the torrential downpour, the frigid headwinds coming off the glacier, calving ice, the tour boat€™s' wakes and now the breaching whale activity are all the unexpected joys of kayaking in Alaska.
As we sat cozily in our cockpit having a late lunch, we observed 2 kayakers entering McMullen Cove after their day at Holgate Glacier. We knew we were in for some exciting viewing as they fought their way to their pre-arranged campsite on the top of a nearby knoll for the night. The couple is drenched to the bone and they don'€™t appear to be interested in making our acquaintance before beaching their kayaks. Within 20 minutes the kayaks were secured, the 6'€™ orange dome tent was pitched and not a soul was seen outside the kayakers'€™ new residence for the rest of the day. I wonder why they didn'€™t pitch their tent back in bushes to be out of the rain? Oh yeah...the no-see '€˜ems. It was 3pm. Sleep well and dry and bug-free, dear kayakers. Tomorrow will surely be a better day!
The weather only worsened overnight and by morning we realized our anchor had dragged. After taking Skipper to shore for his morning ablution at 8:30am and eating breakfast at 9, we packed up and repositioned Capella III in deeper water, farther from the rocks on the beach. Our Neighbors on the Knoll were still encapsulated in their Orange Dome Home and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. About 10:30am, we were on the brink of calling the Coast Guard after 19 hours of seclusion when they emerged from their soggy tent. They broke camp, loaded their kayaks and were back on the water by 11am in the rain, the wind and the muck! On to their next venue, perhaps to another glacier to check out the hundreds of harbor seals perched on growlers or they may seek a calm cove of scenic rocky islets to photograph seabirds, black bears or mountain the rain. Ah, such is the life of those special folks known as "Those Hardy Glacier Kayakers of Alaska."€
We still couldn't help wondering what they did inside that tiny tent for 19 consecutive hours. The all-night inclement weather surely held them captive inside (without a lantern or a generator), so cooking, using the bathroom, playing games and watching movies were not options. So we surmised that they must have had ALL the fun they could stand with the strenuous glacier kayaking, so we just needed to our own business while they slept!
PHOTO:Humpback Fin (15'!) near McMullen Cove

Whale Olympian

22 July 2016 | Northwestern Lagoon, Northwestern Fjord, Kenai Fjords NP
It was about 11am on Thursday when we left the Seward Harbor headed for Northwestern Lagoon to start a 10-12 day sail within Kenai Fjords National Park. We left behind the good news that Matt'€™s thyroid surgery had gone well and he was safely at home being well-cared for by Shea (girlfriend), Miles (new lab puppy) and his second new lab puppy in 2 months, Jaxson. We were assured that he was in good hands. The Tale of the Whale began about 2pm just outside of No Name Island where we began seeing random whale spoutings, sending us below to fetch our cameras to be armed and ready for any whale-like eventualities. We had the immediate area to ourselves, a sunny day and light winds expecting potential photo ops galore. But what we weren'€™t expecting was what happened next. 30 yards off our port bow a very large humpback mysteriously appeared and began a 5-minute exhibition of his athleticism...high tail-lobbing, vigorous finning, fluke slapping. He then performed a series of half-breaches with twisted half gainers, rolling and tumbling within 20 yards of Capella III, eventually disappearing into the depths leaving behind a mountainous wall of water. He scored the perfect 10 in the Whale Olympics! Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by two Kenai Fjords Tour Boats and 2 small fishing boats. They had obviously heard the raucous activity and rushed in to enjoy the spectacle as well. It was a pity that the WO (Whale Olympian) had apparently worn himself out and retreated into the depths just as they arrived on the scene. And you ask if we were scared? Surely the experience elicited a profound emotion, but we'€™ve decided that it wasn't fear initially, but rather one of sheer amazement of the wondrous electricity, strength and grace being photographed right before our very eyes! The fear shows up later with heart palpitations and shaky knees€ with the realization of how lucky we were to have experienced such a Close Encounter of the BEST kind!
PHOTO: Whale Olympian doing Half Gainer

A Quick Getaway

08 July 2016 | Seward
We've been hanging out in Seward for the past 8 days, enjoying the 4th of July's infamous Mt. Marathon Race where 880 runners "race up its 3022' flank in bright colors and descend in the mountain's gritty brown badge of honor...then run, walk, stumble or crawl to the finish line" (as described in the Race Brochure). Many associated events (always including eating, of course) were also enjoyed with our friends Ray and Mary Couvillion aboard Capella III and Sonny and Carole Miller camped out in our front yard in their motorhome. The cooperative weather made for a fun sail to Thumb Cove for a lovely overnight. The next plan was to begin Part 2 of our summer sailing season by immediately setting sail for Prince William Sound, but "flexibility" must always be the operative word when planning so far ahead. Our Son, Matt will undergo thyroid surgery on July 18th so we've opted to be "not at sea" during this time to be within dependable communication with him. We'll leave tomorrow for a quick 4-day fishing trip just out of Resurrection Bay to take advantage of the perfect weather forecast (we hope), then reschedule our trip to PWS when we know Matt is home and well. Meanwhile, let us entertain you with one more picture of our Skipper having fun.
PHOTO: Skipper, Shakemeister returning from the Sea

Reprieve from the Sea

01 July 2016 | Seward, Alaska
The last 52nm leg from Thunder Bay back to Seward was a delight but I must admit it's good to be on land for awhile to readjust to a stable terra firma. It doesn't happen immediately and the rocking is most evident in the shower, but it does finally settle down. And then the urge to get back aboard returns...! We have a few days to visit with the Couvillions over the 4th of July both on and off the boat before heading out to Prince William Sound for the rest of the month. Keep in touch. We love hearing from you.
PHOTO: Skipper Doing What He Loves Most

Holed up...Again!

25 June 2016 | Thunder Bay, Kenai Fjords NP, Alaska
An astute blog-viewer just might have recognized our current '€œThunder Bay'€ location mentioned in a posting nearly a month ago. When we started out from Seward for the first time in mid-May, we made it as far as Thunder Bay before the screeching sound of the wobbly cutlass bearing drove us back to Seward for repairs. Now we find ourselves returning to Thunder Bay after 31 days to wait out small craft warnings to complete the first loop of our summer voyage back to Seward. Since leaving Seldovia 6 days ago, the weather has been less than pleasant, filled with "€˜nautical events"€™ as our friend, Josh (Skipper of M/V Samba) puts it, so we finally decided to sit it out for a few days in our old faithful Thunder Bay. TB has frequently provided us with some sort of unique form of entertainment and this time was no exception. As if dealing with swirling 20+kt. winds, steep, choppy, 3-4 sec. period waves, an unfavorable current in torrential rain entering the anchorage wasn'€™t enough, we were engaged in negotiating a very tricky anchoring procedure (among rocks). Simultaneously we caught sight of a Black Bear meandering along the nearby beach off our stern. Incredibly, somehow through all the chaos, we were both able to gain our composure long enough to get some pretty good, close-up photos of this BIG, beautiful guy. I believe they call it "€˜coincidental/miraculous photography"€™ or "€˜shooting ugly!"€™ What one must do to get the picture! S/V Nammu from Seward was already at anchor and must have gotten quite a show watching Capella III in their extreme multi-tasking mode. It isn'€™t our first, best or last picture of a black bear we'€™ve ever taken, but it makes us smile when we think back on the circumstances surrounding THIS special "€˜nautical event!"™ Unfortunately, we will be unable to post the BLACK BEAR photo until we get internet service back in Seward, so please check and re-check all our postings for text editing and photo updates when we reach Seward in a few days. Incidentally, turns out we remained in TB for 7 days awaiting weather that was fit to sail in...and as Vic sez..."it's supposed to be fun!" And as is regularly the case among sailors, we're now very fond of Jeanne, Fred and Eli Ickes (S/V Nammu) after sharing a week's worth of good times, good meals and an abundance of conversation related (and not related to) sailing as we 'endured' the inclement wx together. Thanks, was fun!
PHOTO (finally): Black Bear of Thunder Bay

The First Day of Summer

21 June 2016 | Qikutulig Bay
Our passage from Port Graham to Port Chatham turned out to be EPIC in many ways. To make the 22nm passage even possible, coordinating the waves, the winds and the extreme currents had to be collectively considered. This meant leaving PG at 5:30am and then hoping that the wx forecast was accurate on all accounts, reaching our destination (Port Chatham) well before lunch time. An hour and a half into this leg, all hell broke loose and we found ourselves in the middle of the "€œTOILET BOWL" is the best we can describe it! The waves built to 8-10'€™ and were of the short, steep, chaotic type, winds swirled around us at 20-30kts., and the 3kt currents were running in our favorable direction, but unfortunately contrary to the waves, sometimes doubling their height! This simultaneous interaction of sea conditions some might relate to the flushing of a toilet, hence the moniker. On deck all crewmembers had on lifelines, Skipper was on the cockpit deck wedged in by my feet against his lifejacket, as the boat lurched and rolled uncomfortably under diesel power and the ¾-reefed mainsail. No autopilot was used during this event. Vic was very busy manually steering through this minefield of waves, trying his best to avoid green water over the bow. Below deck, dishes, cups, silverware, canisters and bottles rattled in the cupboards menacingly, but all were battened down safely, no damage was incurred. We had filled our fuel tanks in Homer and the rocking and sloshing had separated out 2 cups of water and contained it in the fuel filter. More water in the fuel could possibly have shut down the engine, but luckily Vic discovered it early enough, crisis averted. This first critical scene lasted only one, seemingly endless hour, and nobody threw up, miraculously, so guess we can consider it a successful passage. This Toilet Bowl repeated itself at about 11a.m. for another yet another terrifying half an hour! We were so excited to be out of these messy situations, we pulled into the next safe haven, Chugach Bay, had lunch and a much-needed nap, then continued on to our newly-decided-upon destination, Qikutulig [Kick-you-too-lig] Bay, arriving at 5pm. It was a long, arduous 40nm day, but the rewards were great. Q-Bay is a lovely safe anchorage riddled with quaint islets and abundant wildlife. The weather has calmed into a beautiful evening, dinner of spaghetti and meatballs was delicious and the best dessert was watching a lone gray wolf traverse the entire length of the nearby beach before our very eyes, providing wonderful photo ops. All in all, yes, this was an EPIC First Day of Summer!
PHOTO: Lone Gray Wolf
Vessel Name: Capella III
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet/IP 420
Hailing Port: Seward, Alaska
Crew: Vic and Kathy Martin, Skipper (the Boat Dog)
About: Sixty-Something cruising couple from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, sailing with sea-loving Golden Retriever (Skipper) to remote areas throughout the Last Frontier. This Centennial Cruise takes us back to some of our favorite festivals and haunts in SW and SC Alaska.
Home Page: Kathleen Martin
Capella III's Photos - Freyers at Sea
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pretty pup
morning snuggle buddies
Freyers at the helm
dall porpoise
captainess june
captain gus
Cruising to the Aleutians