Cruising on Just Lucky

The travels of the sailboat Just Lucky and the able crew

18 December 2017 | Sitka, AK
12 December 2017 | Sitka
12 December 2017 | Peril Strait / Appleton Cove
11 December 2017 | Warm Springs, Baranof Island
10 October 2017 | Portage Bay - Kake Village
10 October 2017 | Petersburg, AK
31 August 2017 | Wrangell Narrows to Petersburg
31 August 2017 | Wrangell, Ak - Low tide boat work
30 August 2017 | Anan Bear Observatory
30 August 2017 | Meyers Chuck - Frosty Bay
15 August 2017 | Ketchikan, AK
29 July 2017 | Dixon Entrance / Foggy Bay
29 July 2017 | Prince Rupert
29 July 2017 | Hartley Bay
22 July 2017 | Khutze Inlet
22 July 2017 | Rescue Bay / Kynoch Inlet
22 July 2017 | Shearwater
22 July 2017 | Cape Caution / Hakai (Pruth Bay)
22 July 2017 | The broughtons

Sitka II 8/24/ - 9/25/2017

18 December 2017 | Sitka, AK
Ron
Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
https://share.garmin.com/RonRisden
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.


Sitka has five different harbors in town; we were in the largest one that had the transient docks and served as a large fuel and supply stop for most of the fishing fleet. There were many fishing boats from small 25 footers to large 150 foot tenders that buy fish and supply fuel to the smaller boats while they are out fishing. Use of the tenders allows the fishing boats to stay out longer if the run is good, without having to return to Sitka to unload the catch and fuel up. The transient docks see a large turnaround of commercial fishing boats and that is what Sitka harbor is set up for. We had inquired earlier while we were in Petersburg about staying in Sitka for the winter and were told that it was not a problem. The harbor did find a place for us to stay on the transient dock while we made repairs, but when we followed up our earlier inquiry we had made from Petersburg, there was no place for us to stay for the winter other than a dock with no power or water. That simply would not do - so we opted to leave as soon as we had the new parts in. We would be returning to Petersburg, where we had a winter spot on a nice dock confirmed by the harbor master, Glo.

Sitka was not just about finally getting in after a mechanical breakdown. It is a very interesting town, and we managed to do quite a bit while we were waiting for the new alternator and regulator. One of the first things we did was to take a walk around the town. It is one of the larger towns in SE Alaska with a population of @ 3,000. It actually has two high schools and one of the larger hospitals in the area. The town itself extends about a mile NW from the harbor we were in to about two miles in the East direction. There are many grocery stores, marine supply stores, as well as general hardware stores, restaurants and bars. It does get quite a few cruise liners in during the summer season, but not nearly as many as Ketchikan.

We made a couple of day trips that were very interesting. There is a teaching salmon hatchery in Sitka with an associated science center and that we made one of our day trips. It was very interesting to see and finally learn about all the different types of salmon as well as other marine fisheries that were actively being harvested in SE Alaska and the different fishing boats that are used. The return salmon run for the hatchery was also going on, so we got to watch while the hatchery staff would net the fish and capture the milt and eggs to use for spawning new fry. They produce thousands of eggs which they then fertilize immediately and store to allow the hatchlings to be released in a timely manner. Only a small percentage of the fry make it back to hatchery to reproduce.

Another good side trip that we took was to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka. The Raptor Center takes injured birds of prey and provides housing for them. The Raptor Center rehabilitates the birds that they are able to, so that they can be released back into the wild. The ones that cannot be rehabilitated well enough, are placed into other spots, like wildlife centers or zoos. While there were mostly eagles at the Center, we also saw several hawks, owls, and a few other birds.

One of the last things we did before the new alternator and regulator came in the mail, was to take a hike on the very nice trail system that is in Sitka. They go up into the mountains behind the town and are very well marked; consisting of both gravel trails and well built wooden stairs and ramps where applicable. We hiked up to Harbor Mountain starting on the Gavan Hill trail behind the high school, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of Sitka and the surrounding area. It was a beautiful day, and we made a long traverse on the trail hiking to the outlet at Harbor Mountain road. We capped off a great day be getting lucky enough to hitch a ride from some folks back to the marina just as it started to rain!

The alternator/regulator finally arrived and I had them installed by a local marine electrician. We have been learning quite lot on the boat maintenance side of things, but having electrical work done correctly on a boat is critical to the safety of the vessel. I was content to be the 'helper' on this occasion and learn from the pro on the job. :>)

Sitka 8/24/ - 9/25/2017

12 December 2017 | Sitka
Ron
Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
https://share.garmin.com/RonRisden
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.


We left Appleton Cove early in the morning in order to be ready for the current change in Surgius Channel. We did not want to be late, nor have to wait in a large queue to make sure we got through unscathed. Like most of the other days since we left Petersburg, the wind stayed mostly in the main channels and did not extend into the narrow passes that joined them together. This made the passage a little less nerve wracking than two days previous when we had been going to Warm Springs. We were running on just charged battery for things like radio, radar, chartplotter, etc., but the house bank was holding up pretty well.

We, on the other hand were a little frayed. We waited in Deep Bay for the right time to transit Surgis Channel. It went off without any problems, and we only encountered one other boat, a small speed boat, while we were in the Channel. When we came through it was midday and the place we had thought to stay was very close; we opted to continue on to Sitka, which was still 25 miles or so away. We motored over to Neva Strait and then to Olga Strait, going through both without any incident. Both Straits are narrow, but not so narrow as to restrict ships passing while in them. Still, after Olga Strait, we were dog tired and more than a little snippy as we pulled into Sitka and tied up at the transient dock. It was good to be plugged into the power, but it had been a very long 12 hour day.

Peril Strait / Appleton Cove 8/23/ - 8/24/2017

12 December 2017 | Peril Strait / Appleton Cove
Ron
Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
https://share.garmin.com/RonRisden
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.


We made our way up Chatham Strait to Peril Strait where we turned west and headed towards Appleton Cove for the night. As we went along, we noticed many whales bubble fishing; something we had not seen a lot of during our earlier stretches. Bubble fishing is when the whales (humpback whales) make a lot of circles around a school of fish and blow bubbles out which confuses the fish. The whales are then able to dart in and feast on them quite effectively. It was very interesting to watch, as we saw a couple of whale pods as well as the 'odd whale out' not a member of any pod. The teamwork of the pods definitely made feeding easier and more efficient than feeding as a single individual.

We saw several fishing boats - trollers and purse seiners - out working towards the end of the season. It had been a pretty good season so far and the fishing fleet in SE Alaska was making the most of it. Trollers are the ones that catch fish (salmon) individually on hooks and take great care to not mar the fish so the appearance is good and the price stays up. Other types of fishing like purse seiners catch large amounts of fish at once. Generally these are destined for cut filets or steaks or canning.

We pulled into Appleton Cove fairly early and found only one other boat in the anchorage. It is a very protected anchorage in all but severe northwest blows. We still had a good amount of daylight left, but couldn't go any farther because of the very narrow Sergius Channel that lies between Appleton Cove and Sitka. Sergius is only about 400 feet wide, which seems like a lot until you understand that the current can run at up to 8 knots through this narrow passage and make transiting it very difficult for most boats. As usual in the travels we had this season, it was wait until slack in order to transit transit, so that is what we did in Appleton.

Warm Springs 8/22/ - 8/23/2017

11 December 2017 | Warm Springs, Baranof Island
Ron
Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
https://share.garmin.com/RonRisden
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.


Ooh, that smell
Can't you smell that smell?
Ooh, that smell
The smell of death surrounds you, yeah


Courtesy of Lynyrd Skynyrd

We found our way into Kake the previous evening by following the very twisty channel markers to the harbor, and anchored in the nice bay right outside the breakwater of the marina. We opted to not go into the 'town' (there really was not much of one from what we had heard) and just enjoyed the evening on the boat. In the morning we weighed anchor and left for Warm Springs Bay, looking forward to getting into the public hot tubs.
We were out for about 3 hours when the wind and waves started to pick up. We had been experiencing a little wave/wind action, but were making good time, just bouncing around a lot. We were on a track to 'cut the corner' of the junction of Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait, going between Admiralty Island and the much smaller Yasha Island. While the depth got much shallower it never went below @ 150 ft, and cutting the corner would save a lot of time, so it seemed like a good option ...

It's that shallower part that threw us for a loop. The waves got much steeper and shorter. They did not endanger the boat or us, just a lot more bounce; and there were a few that started to come in from different directions. We were still going along ok, when we took a particularly solid wave on the beam. It rocked the boat - and unfortunately broke a dish in the kitchen - but other than that I did not think any more of it than the other waves we had been having. That is, until I noticed a very bad smell coming from the engine. It was definitely electrical in nature, and it did not take long to discover that we had burned out the alternator. We put the engine into idle and then shut it down and did a quick engine check. The engine itself was fine, but the alternator had a lot of black dust from the belt and smelled very bad. I didn't find the cause right away, but we were putting out no charge to the batteries at all, so I shut down all the unnecessary electrical outputs and restarted the motor. We carried on to Warm Springs, with all the engine hatches open to get rid of the smell. We made Warm Springs in about an hour and a half and managed to find a spot at the dock and were greatly relieved to tie up.

After a quick beer or three, I found the culprit; a broken lug on the alternator ground wire. The lug was wedged under the nut on the alternator, so it appeared that it was still connected, but in fact, had broken in half and was not making sufficient connection. My summation is that it had broken previously, and the bouncing had loosened it enough to make the connection finally fail. We had traveled a ways with the failed connection, so the alternator - and concurrently the regulator for the alternator - had both been ungrounded while the alternator was putting out a fairly large current. With nowhere to go, the current burned up both units.

We are fortunate to have a large battery bank, and a good wind generator as well as a small solar panel, so after a quick pow wow between us, we elected to spend the night at Warm Springs, and then make the 3 day trip to Sitka on battery power. While we could not charge the start battery, we are able to combine the house battery bank with the start battery if we need to, so we felt pretty good about getting to Sitka in our current state.

We got off the boat to take a breather and hiked up to the lake above Warm Springs and to the rock grotto where the hot springs start. Warm Springs is a well known bay with an attractive waterfall and a natural hot springs just above the small community nested in some rocks by the top of the waterfall. The community has piped the natural hot water into a small collection of individual bathhouses (modest fee for public use) with free standing cast iron tubs with views that overlook the bay. Kirsten, being the hot tub fan, was in her element. We opted not to try the natural rock grotto, as we did not have our regulation issue 12 gage shotgun with us, and yes, there was a brown bear in the area! After our brief hike, we went back to the small community where Kirsten relaxed in a tub with a great view and I went in search of some assistance.

It really is amazing what kind of people you find while out cruising. While walking back to the boat, I happened upon a gentleman that was walking back to his. I mentioned my plight, and to my everlasting surprise, he had a lug that I needed as well as the correct tool (a set of 4 foot crimpers) to put it on my wire. With Jim's assistance, we managed to get the alternator hooked up again, but alas to my dismay, it was truly burned out and put out no power. The alternator pulley still turned fine, so the raw water pump worked ok and we could run the engine as long as the batteries held up. Kirsten and I talked it over and decided to push onto Sitka the next day and get the alternator work done there.

We felt much better after a good dinner and to top it off, we ended up having after dinner drinks with Jim and his wife Robin who live in Petersburg. They heard we were trying to go to Sitka for the winter and gave it their all to convince us that we should be in Petersburg instead. We would consider it, we said, and left soon after to be able to get out early in the morning to go onto Sitka.

Portage Bay / Kake Village 8/20/ - 8/21/2017

10 October 2017 | Portage Bay - Kake Village
Ron
Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
https://share.garmin.com/RonRisden
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.


The route from Petersburg to Warm Springs led us out into Frederick Sound. This is a very beautiful spot that can get bad weather in a flash – like a lot of Alaska. Fortunately for us the first day to Portage Bay was fairly low key with just an overcast sky, a little rain and some moderate winds - @ 20 knots. It was not a very long day as we only did @ 25 miles, but the next leg to Warm Springs was going to be something like 60 miles, so we opted to break the trip up into shorter days.

The anchorage at Portage Bay has a couple of turns that you need to pay attention to, especially at low tide, but is not real difficult. Since the tide swings up here can easily be in excess of 20 feet, many times there are mudflats under what looks like a deeper water entrance, so following the routes on the charts is very important. We came into the anchorage just fine after the obligatory 2 – 90 degree turns and anchored in @ 35 feet of water for the night.

The next morning we started out early, planning on getting to Warm Springs. It was raining hard at the start of the passage, and the wind picked up considerably over what we had listened to on the weather forecast.

As an aside, we always tried to get the latest NOAA forecast for this region we would be traveling in via the automated VHF broadcasts every morning before we left. They are broadcast throughout SE Alaska on one of ten VHF channels dedicated to weather information. It was tricky to get them sometimes, given that a good anchorage would obscure the radio signal, but we made it a priority even if we had to stop early in the passage when we would pick up a good signal.

As the wind increased, we made less progress (yes it was directly at us), and the tide started running with us. While that may sound good from the standpoint of getting a ‘push’ from the current, it starts to make larger waves when the wind opposes the current. We started to get bounced around pretty good, so we opted to put in at Kake Village instead, giving us @ 40 miles for the day. That would make next day to Warm Springs only about 30 miles; easey peasey – right? Stay tuned …

Petersburg 8/19 - 8/20

10 October 2017 | Petersburg, AK
Ron
Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
https://share.garmin.com/RonRisden
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.


Petersburg is all about fishing. With two major processors, a large fleet of commercial fishing boats, and a huge community cold storage (freezer) facility; fish, it's what's for dinner. The town is alive during the fishing season and goes to sleep - not quite hibernation - during the winter. This is similar to a lot of SE Alaska towns whose livelihood is predicated on the outdoors.

The town was founded by Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant, in the nineteenth century. He built docks and a sawmill among other structures as well as starting a cannery and saltery in town. The location was good not only because of the great fishing in the region, but also because of the close by LeConte glacier. The continual calving of this glacier provided fresh ice with which to run the fish processing business.

More Norwegian, as well as other Scandinavian, immigrants came to fish and work, and as the town grew larger it became known as "Little Norway". The Norwegian influence is still very much a part of the fabric of the local culture, with many Norwegian/Scandinavian themed festivals and events.

We stayed only two days (this time) in Petersburg as we were anxious to get onto Warm Springs and try out the natural hot springs there. We stocked up and were on our way.
Vessel Name: Just Lucky
Vessel Make/Model: Pacific Seacraft 40
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Ron & Kirsten Risden
About: Retired and seeking new places to travel to and explore. Traveling up the Inside Passage to SE Alaska and exploring the coast along the way.
Just Lucky's Photos - Main
Photos of the Powell River area and just prior to Desolation Sound proper
5 Photos
Created 29 July 2017
Shots from the trip up and back and in the Inlet
6 Photos
Created 29 July 2017
Pender Harbor photos
4 Photos
Created 29 July 2017
Shots of the Cove and the hike we took
4 Photos
Created 18 May 2017
Various photos along the way
3 Photos
Created 18 May 2017
Shots of the Strait and Bowen Island activities
4 Photos
Created 12 May 2017
Places we've eaten or had a drink along the way that we enjoyed
7 Photos
Created 12 May 2017
Things we did in Ganges
5 Photos
Created 12 May 2017
Boats and other vehicles or mechanical items I've seen along the way that I thought were cool or looked very nice
5 Photos
Created 12 May 2017
Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca
2 Photos
Created 29 April 2017
Photos of the boat and boat projects
9 Photos
Created 27 April 2017