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Sun Nov 20 12:56:00 EST 2011, Sitka, AK

As we passed Old Sitka Rocks, we began to see suburban homes lining the waterfront boulevard--the largest structures I'd seen in two months.

In this same area in 1799, the first Russian settlement on these shores, Redoubt St. Archangel Michael, was built by Alexander Baranov to support the fur trade. It was destroyed by the native Tlingit in 1802, who had a vibrant established society and were unwilling to submit to Russian control. So the Russians came back in 1804 and destroyed the Tlingit village of Sheet'ka several miles away at what is now the city center, and took over the port that is present-day Sitka. Under Russian colonization, such opulent European developments were imported that Sitka was known as the Paris of the Pacific.

After a long and frosty transit, we were happy to arrive.

Thu Dec 1 22:35:23 EST 2011 | Victor
Snow, snow and more snow coming. Lets retire till May, June.
Sitka Sound Sunset
Sun Nov 20 12:55:00 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Thu Dec 1 22:38:31 EST 2011 | Victor
Is that the gap?. Salisbury is wider.
Thu Dec 1 23:14:20 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Its not the gap, just some islands in Sitka Sound and I'll correct the title of the post.

Clearly I should finish drinking my coffee before posting :).
Along the Way
Sun Nov 20 12:54:00 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Wed Nov 30 15:35:00 EST 2011 | Doug
Beautiful pixs - so happy you are taking your time to enjoy my slice of heaven in Alaska - cannot wait to depart and bring GREY GOOSE home in 2012. Give my best to Maggie. A Keeper!
Wed Nov 30 19:41:31 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks, Doug. It is a beautiful place. I understand your wanting to hurry back here.
Along the Way
Sun Nov 20 12:53:00 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Wed Nov 30 16:36:10 EST 2011 | Terry
thanks for the marker number ... i'v been using Fugawi to follow you ..
Wed Nov 30 19:39:59 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
I've never used Fugawi, how is it?
Thu Dec 1 8:24:32 EST 2011 | Terry
i'v been using " Fugawi Global Navigator" for years .... works great ... lots of bells and whistles ... will take all charts and scanned paper charts too
Thu Dec 1 22:20:06 EST 2011 | Victor
R-20, near Columbine Rk. next South is red18 and green 17. Neva Str. Take me there.
Sun Nov 20 12:52:00 EST 2011, Chukchi Sea

Just to break up the snow pictures, here is a relatively warm-weather picture. This was taken a few months back, in the Chukchi Sea. We were pushing to get south quickly while we had a favorable wind.

I was attempting to pole out the yankee jib (the corner of which is just visible to the right of the mast). If you look closely at the pole on the foremast, you can see that it has just broken away from the mast. The end fitting on the spinnaker pole sheared off and the pole fell into the water. We brought the pole back aboard for later repairs, and continued sailing, without poling out the jib.

Tue Nov 29 21:13:52 EST 2011 | george ray
How have your cockpit winches changed since you bought the boat in France?
Wed Nov 30 12:46:30 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
I added the middle pair of sheet winches in South America. I also brought a winch that was on the foredeck to the pilothouse top so the mainsail could be raised and reefed from the cockpit.

The mainsheets now have lower-friction blocks and big cleats which are easier to make it down to.
Neva and Olga Straits
Sun Nov 20 12:51:00 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Though it's called the Inside Passage, some of the waters we've sailed recently have been pretty open. Chatham Strait, where we began this leg, is 138 miles long and between 18 and 5 miles wide. Then, after Richard took us through the treacherous narrows of Peril Straight, we crossed the corner of Salisbury Sound, which is open to the sea and to prevailing conditions in the Gulf of Alaska. For us, this meant more strong gusts and wind-driven snow.

I took a turn at the tiller as we next entered Neva Strait, where the trees closed in around us, the island sheltered us from the gusts, and the snow wafted gently across the air. Together, Neva and Olga Straits would bring us to the outer waters of Sitka, with an average width of 0.2 miles along the way. The calm was amazing, with lofty walls of evergreen, lacy with snow, so close. Rocks and shallows dot the straits, so you can't daydream too much, but I imagine I saw reindeer flying ahead of me pulling a sleigh full of treats!

Mon Nov 28 12:01:22 EST 2011 | Joe Berta
Maggie; Your narrative seems to wrap around the images and create the ambiance for the observer / reader.
Richard; I just had to put a link to your blog on ours - hope you don't mind.
Maybe it is not your intention nor the purpose of your journey, and I don't know if you are doing it or not, maybe it would be intrusive to the enjoyment of it all, but a video documentary of this voyage would be sooo coool....... At least a pictures filled hardcover!
Mon Nov 28 14:55:38 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Joe, thanks very much.

Mon Nov 28 17:41:22 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Joe, thanks very much, absolutely do feel free to link to my blog.

Shooting and editing video is really a lot of work, so I don't think I'm really going anywhere with that, but thanks for the suggestion.

Joe's blog is

Mon Nov 28 18:12:17 EST 2011 | george ray
Maggie, Your efforts have taken Richard's nice blog to the a higher level. Great Work, Thanks!!
So did you see Santa and his rain gear?
Tue Nov 29 0:38:51 EST 2011 | Victor
Well, I can recognize Olga Pt. on the photo. Lattice green beacon (port). Immense beauty around.
Tue Nov 29 13:52:33 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks George and Victor. George, that was the image I had too - a bearded old fellow in Grundens!
Motoring Along
Sun Nov 20 12:50:00 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Maggie steering.

Sun Nov 27 15:50:48 EST 2011 | Terry
WOW!!! ... she's great ... richard ... she's a keeper.
Sun Nov 27 19:35:56 EST 2011 | George Conk
Some say there's no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong equipment.
How far would you agree with that, Maggie?
When you get back to NYC drop a line, I am sure that a bunch of us fair weather sailors would be happy to treat you to a hot toddy and hear tales of the Gulf of Alaska and the Inside Passage.
- George
Sun Nov 27 23:37:42 EST 2011 | Victor
Those gloves must be Rabbit Fur Mitts, don't get them wet !. Great picture, better than last year at Erie Canal. Stay warm.
Mon Nov 28 14:35:12 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks for the encouraging comments everyone, but I have to admit I don't like it when the temperature gets severe. Thankfully it's been moderate for cold, and there are Richard's rabbit fur mitts! They have polyester insulation inside, and since they're large for me I wore wool glove liners inside too. Along with a couple of wool sweaters under the insulated suit, it was comfortable for outside steering in early winter temperatures. The more specialized garments definitely made the day! But I do really like the simple basics of wool layers too.

George, thanks very much for the invitation. I'll e-mail when I'm back and look forward to meeting you and sharing stories.
Kakul Narrows
Sun Nov 20 12:40:00 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Much easier to pass thru than Sergius Narrows are the nearby Kakul Narrows, which have less current, deep water, no standing waves or sharp turns.

Sat Nov 26 22:51:42 EST 2011 | Amos
Wow--hair-raising!! Are you heading through NEva Strait to Sitka?
Sun Nov 27 23:43:15 EST 2011 | Victor
This must be the end of perils of Peril Str. Awesome and dangerous. Stay on course
Mon Nov 28 11:00:40 EST 2011 | Richard Hudson
Amos, yes, the next picture was taken in Neva Strait.

Victor, yes, this is the last of the perils of Peril Strait.
Snow, Wind, Rocks and Currents
Sun Nov 20 11:39:50 EST 2011, Southeast Alaska

Daylight and no gale make for relatively good traveling conditions.

Fri Nov 25 15:47:41 EST 2011 | Doug
Traveling? I thought you were in Sitka? Maybe you are heading south? Sorry to see no posts from Maggie... darn.
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 :)

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