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Strong Currents and Snow
Sun Nov 20 11:38:45 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Buoy 8 marks a shallow ledge in Sergius Narrows. The white patch on the buoy is snow and the strands wrapped around it are kelp.

The inside route to Sitka involves passing a very narrow section with fast tidal currents called Sergius Narrows. The chart says the currents reach 8 knots. The Coast Pilot notes:
At the strength of the current it is not safe for any vessel bound either way...The channel is so narrow and the current so variable in direction that if a vessel gets a sheer she may be carried onto the ledges or shore before she can be straightened out.

The channel has a sharp 90 degree turn immediately after the narrows with another rock which needs to be avoided. While there are buoys marking the channel thru Sergius Narrows, the buoys are not lit, and unfamiliar places with rocks and fast currents are best avoided at night.

After a gale died down, we left Tenakee Springs before dawn with a good tailwind, some freezing spray and a favorable current. I wanted to go thru Sergius Narrows during daylight, so we motored until well after dark, then threaded our way thru a narrow passage between rocks and an island to anchor half a mile away, with a light wind and clear skies. I was quite concerned about getting the timing right so we'd arrive at slack water, and hopefully without so much wind as to make steering difficult. I carefully planned out when we needed to raise anchor, get out of the bay we were in and get to the narrows for slack water.

Naturally, there was a snowstorm the following day! So, instead of going thru Sergius Narrows in the dark with light wind and clear skies, we entered with gusty winds and blowing snow (there was no point in waiting for another day, as the wind was forecast to increase to a gale late in the day).

We arrived early, in case slack water arrived earlier than predicted, and held position by steering up into the current and wind (the wind was funnelling down the channel). We had current predictions for Sergius Narrows and for points nearby, so by estimating the speed of the current at a nearby point, I could tell if slack water was going to arrive at the predicted time or not. I steered from outside, in the wind and snow, where the visibility was better.

Ten minutes before predicted slack water we headed for Sergius Narrows. At full throttle, we had no problems, and quickly passed thru and into wider, deeper, slower water.

Sun Nov 27 23:50:10 EST 2011 | Victor
Buoy #8, I can swim to shore, can you see it ?. A little cold for swim and weeds are not pleasant. Will do it in July.
Mon Nov 28 10:57:25 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
I think this trip would be a lot more pleasant in July :)
The Road Into Tenakee Springs
Sat Nov 19 17:20:31 EST 2011, Tenakee Springs, Alaska

The one and only road in Tenakee Springs is a dirt path hugging the shoreline for about a mile. No cars are allowed, but you may pass a resident on his ATV towing a little trailer holding a deer he just harvested.

At the village, buildings line the path, even built on pilings over the tide line. But here, near the boat harbor, spruce trees dominate the way. It's a small part of the Tongass National Forest which covers most of Southeast Alaska, the largest temperate rainforest in North America, bountiful and beautiful.

Tenakee Springs
Sat Nov 19 13:46:09 EST 2011, Tenakee Springs, Alaska

Issuma at the end of the dock.

Fri Nov 18 11:58:07 EST 2011, Tenakee Springs, Alaska

Mon Nov 21 15:25:33 EST 2011 | will
great name!
Mon Nov 21 16:26:44 EST 2011 | John Doswell
I like it!
Saw a boat once with name MV Heisenberg...
Mon Nov 21 22:19:28 EST 2011 | Victor
Good name. I came across once called "Halt die Schnautze" which means "Shut up".
I like your observations about places and the people and Alaska is full of them. Tell us about your perils of Peril Str. on the way to Sitka, looks you both survived cheerfully.
Tue Nov 22 14:02:21 EST 2011 | Maggie
Funny boat names could be it's own blog, and in multiple languages thanks to your comments! Before this, my favorite was a sport fisher out of Freeport, NY called The Codfather.
Wed Nov 23 23:07:55 EST 2011 | George Conk
For Maggie's contest here's a post about what we call our boats - our dreams, our fears, etc.
A Day in Tenakee Springs, Part 3
Thu Nov 17 18:01:00 EST 2011, Tenakee Springs, Alaska

The Snyder Mercantile Shop has been serving basics in Tenakee since 1899, when Ed Snyder rowed over from Juneau with a boat full of groceries and set up business. The building and fixtures inside date back over a century. The old heavy wood display cases offer fresh groceries and modern pharmacy items, with lingering old time wares in their original packaging displayed like a museum on the highest shelves.

The hospitality matches the charm. When another customer discovered I¬'m from New York City, she called over the young shop clerk to introduce us, who lives in New York City too when she¬'s not staying with her uncle in Tenakee. Part time in New York and part time in Alaska, sounds great to me!

Sun Nov 20 12:44:15 EST 2011 | Amos
Wonderful stuff. I am pretty impressed at Mister Snyder. Rowing seventy-five miles is no small feat even unladen!! Very glad you are safe and hale.
Sun Nov 20 13:50:54 EST 2011 | Doug
Maggie - I would like to suggest you take over official duties as BlogMaster and not return home to NY - stay and write/blog your adventures aboard ISSUMA... so much to see and do that you really should keep Richard company - I can tell you are a GREAT influence on this gypsy captain - please stay Maggie ! It's a thousand miles south to Puget Sound Washington - a full winter time of explorations awaits you and Richard...
Tue Nov 22 14:15:03 EST 2011 | Maggie
Thanks, Doug and Amos, for the good review. I'd love to stay aboard Issuma and make the passage south, but duty calls me back to New York Harbor in a couple of weeks. You're right Doug, it's a fascinating area to explore, and the best way to do it is by sailboat!

In the meantime, I'll follow your encouragement and blog a little more from the good ship Issuma. Thanks!
A Day in Tenakee Springs, Part 2
Wed Nov 16 18:01:00 EST 2011, Tenakee Springs, Alaska

The Blue Moon Cafe is the only restaurant in Tenakee, and proprietor Rosie only cooks when she wants to. Rosie's actually happy to entertain visitors, it's just that her old cook stove takes a long time and a lot of effort to start up, so she usually just serves drinks in the off season, along with local legends and gossip.

Rosie talked of the times when bears have followed the hunters back home to town, even breaking in to porches. "One of the bears was not too big", she says holding her hand 4 feet off the ground, "and the other was old and thin with no teeth, but they shot them anyway."

Interested in the old stove, I asked about her appliances, and heard a little about daily life. Just a few of the newer Tenakee homes have clothes washer/dryers, and those people host others' washing. Rosie wonders why people need the machine and the expense, don't they know how to wash clothes? You "pack in water" (carry buckets from a stream), wash the clothes in the same tub after you wash yourself, and hang dry. Sunday is ironing day, but we both admitted to skipping ironing most of the time.

A Day in Tenakee Springs, Part 1
Wed Nov 16 18:00:00 EST 2011, Tenakee Springs, Alaska

We awaited our next weather window spending about a week in Tenakee Inlet at anchor and at the Tenakee Springs town dock. As this is my first time visiting Alaska, I didn't mind the chance to see more of the local area.

Naturally, Tenakee Springs has a natural hot mineral spring pool, which since the early 1900's has been enclosed in a bathhouse to protect bathers from harsh weather. This also serves to protect modesty, since to keep the pool pure only nude bathing is allowed, with separate hours scheduled for women and men. Leave the dressing room and step down onto the stone deck in the steamy warm air. The 104F/35C mineral water bubbles out of 8 foot deep fissure and fills the small rock pool. Rinse off before settling in on the stone cut step, and warming up from a day of work on the boat. The mineral water and the heat together are so relaxing and rejuvenating! Thanks very much to the local Tenakee Bathhouse Committee for maintaining the spring and facilities.


Sat Nov 19 13:21:01 EST 2011 | Doug
I now can see (oops wrong verb) tell that everything is going to work out A-OK. Winter over in Sitka will be fabulous. Time to start writing a book - you are going to have plenty of Alaska winter time on your hands.
Chatham Strait
Mon Nov 14 18:00:00 EST 2011, Chatham Strait, Alaska

Nice tailwind pushing us down Chatham Strait.


Thu Nov 17 0:01:47 EST 2011 | Victor
Chatham Str. , Frederick Sd. , Peterburg I hope. Looks nice sailing and calm seas.
Were reminiscing about you at the Club with
Martin. Have still good, warm sailing days at Lk. Ontario. Heavy frost is coming to NW.
Thu Nov 17 17:14:31 EST 2011 | terry
nice too see ... your going south .... i wanna see some pic's without snow ... hehehe
Thu Nov 17 21:58:47 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
We're not so far along as Frederick Sound yet--the winds are making for slow traveling. Freezing spray is now often a consideration.

It could be quite a while before I have pics without snow :).

Fri Nov 18 15:00:46 EST 2011 | Joe Berta
Ahoy Richard from Bobcaygeon Ontario!
Joe & Wendy here, aboard the M V Surveyor, currently waiting to be icebound on Pigeon Lake.
Awesome journey, thank you for sharing. I much enjoy keeping track of yous and happy to see you all safe and realizing your dream. Almost makes me want to return to BC one day following in your wake. See, you made it so confusing now; Mexico or Iceland.
You know I always go for the heat.....
BTW, I see the Lofoten worked out good!

Fair winds for now,

Sun Nov 20 10:33:32 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Hello Joe and Wendy,

Thanks very much, nice to hear from you.

The Lofoten heater has worked out well. I've used it a few times now under sail, when broad reaching or running (when not needing to use the mainsail).

Icy Strait
Sun Nov 13 18:36:17 EST 2011, Icy Strait, Southeast Alaska

Moon over the mountains, early in the morning in Icy Strait.

Mon Nov 14 16:07:10 EST 2011 | Doug
Question - why does your website on always show a location and group unrelated posts at that specific location? Icy Strait, Eagle and Indian Cove are distinct and separate locations. Is this a "user" feature or sailingblogs "bug"?
Thanks in advance for your reply.
Thu Nov 17 21:51:17 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
The map on generally shows whatever lat/long position I put in. If I don't put in a position, the map position defaults to France (I assume because I started using sailblogs in France). So if I don't have the correct lat/long handy when putting an entry up (which is common when blogging from a library/bar/school/coffee shop), I use a nearby position.
Fri Nov 11 15:11:50 EST 2011, Hoonah, Alaska

Eagles are plentiful in Southeast Alaska. Here an eagle keeps watch over the fuel dock at Hoonah.

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