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D & D Nagle aboard MV DavidEllis
R & R, Chaos Ltd
08/17/2011, wherever, whenever

"we love you man..."

Another Week in SE Alaska
08/13/2011, Douglas Harbor, Juneau

Saturday 13 Aug, Gorgeous day! Blue sky, sunshine; would that there were more like this. Craig and Anne headed off the boat early to take advantage of their last day in AK (this year). Presumably they headed for the Mendenhall glacier which should, in this sunlight, show those unreal blue colors for which it is famous.

I stayed on the boat. While taking an early morning walk with the boys - Rusty & Rascal - on the beach south of Douglas Harbor, Rascal somehow managed to roll in dead fish and seriously needed a wash. And while we're at it, Rusty too. So, washed the dogs, rinsed the decks, filled the water tanks along with other odds and ends and the dogs are happily drying out, on the deck, in the sunshine.

Dorothy is back in Sonoma County this weekend; her mother's 85th birthday. I'm hoping she brings back some Gravenstein apples for a pie or crisp - once you've had it made with Gravensteins, all other apple pies are tasteless.

A very interesting trip up to Skagway this past week: rather than take DE up the Lynn Canal (two days in a wind tunnel each way according to everyone we spoke with) instead we boarded the Alaska state ferry Malaspina for a 6 hour ride (which would be 5 except for the stop in Haines). I knew the basics about the Yukon / Dawson gold rush of 1898 and the Chilcoot Trail (a good fictionalized, but based on facts, version of this would be Michener's "Alaska") but being up there and getting a more complete story was worth the time and expense. We took a bus from Skagway up to Carcross in the Yukon, then back down 63 miles to Skagway on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad - an all day activity with well done historical narrative. The rail car we rode was 120 years old - eat your heart out Bill Kimley!

The second day we hit the shops in Skagway, or maybe I should say that Dorothy hit the shops while I glanced off a couple of them briefly, but spent most of my time people watching. Skagway has a small resident population, but the cruise ships boost that to 10,000 for the day and it's all a little crazy. We stayed at Sgt Preston's Lodge; the name was the attraction as I have fond memories of the 1955-56 TV serial "Sgt Preston of the Yukon" his horse Rex and his dog Yukon King. Too bad the name was the only actual reference; both seasons of the program are available on DVD - maybe they should show it continuously on the lodge TV system.

One observation I would make regards the romantization of this period of history (as frequently happens), is that rather than adventurers, the majority of the folks flocking from all over the world to Alaska and the Yukon at the end of the 19th century, were acting out of desperation. And especially on the American side at Skagway, the situation was 'hell on earth' with many cheated, vicitimzed, murdered; many never heard from again.

While in Skagway, Dorothy and I took a walk down to the small boat harbor and found the sailboat Wooshee, although Matt and Gill were not in residence; they were up in the White Horse area doing a canoe trip on the Yukon River. There's a fun story about how we first met S/V Wooshee in Kushiro, Japan during our trans-Pacific crossing. You can find it on this blog at 22 June 2009. We still hope to hook up with them somewhere in AK before the end of the summer.

Rusty and Rascal boarded at the "Pet Nanny's Place" in Juneau while we had our Skagway adventure. I'm embarrassed to say that I fretted about them constantly and was very gratified, upon picking them up, that they seemed no worse for the experience. In fact, maybe the relationship between them is just a little bit better.

Alpenglow has started their end-of-season trip south. Other "Joy Duck Club" members, who you may have seen mentioned here over the years, are scattered around the world: Peking is in the western Carribean; Kwakatu is in the Chesepeake and for sale; Dora Mac is in the eastern Med; ICE is at Tarawa with a horror story of problems with their main engine - Bill & Stella from Seahorse flew out there this past week to try and help, or at least provide moral support; Jubilee is also in the Chesepeake, I think, but Dean (her owner) is just completing a delivery voyage aboard a large catamaran from Florida to Australia and won't be back to her for several more months, maybe even not til next year; Lady Dragon is at the Seahorse yard where Andrew has had her topside repainted and some other repairs / improvements while Highland Duck is laid up in Langkawi (I think) while Margaret and Bob visit with family back in Australia.

And even in the midst of what some of our friends consider to be the fantasy cruising life we're living, real life intrudes: Gary Lott was a helicopter pilot who flew for Sonoma County Sheriff in the early-mid 80s. I was the unit sergeant at that time, so I was Gary's nominal boss. Previous pilots in the unit were great people and fine pilots, who had a big, positive impact in my life - i.e. Ed Wilkinson and Keith Gundersen who also have passed and are missed. Gary brought skills to the task which we had not seen before, specifically vertical reference long-line work. Gary was a character and enjoyed the role of curmudgeon (in the best sense of the word) with his trademark straw cowboy hat. Underneath his apparent irascibility, dwelt a kind heart and unshakeable loyalty to his friends.

Following his time with SCSO, Gary flew on the North Slope of AK and eventually ended up flying for CDF, retiring 4-5 years ago to the cruising life aboard his and his wife Linda's catamaran in the Carribean. (Linda, by the way, is a cousin of Dorothy's.) Last October Gary began experiencing some symptoms, which ultimately turned out to be melanoma. He's been at Linda's mother's place in Santa Rosa for the past couple months undergoing treatments, but died this past week. I'm glad he and Linda had the chance to spend (way too little) time cruising.

In the police world (as in others) there are crazy things which happen, that only someone who has lived in that world would believe. There are many good reasons to mourn Gary's passing; but a purely selfish reason of mine are the crazy things that happened in that helicopter, which only Gary, me and maybe a paramedic or two would believe actually happened, cause we were there. With Gary gone, those incidents become less real and I wonder myself if that all really happened. Part of my history passes with Gary and soon enough (to quote a character from Blade Runner) it will all be lost "like tears in the rain".

There And Back Again
08/07/2011, Photo taken at Fortress of the Bear, Sitka

Kate's visit was way too short, but we're glad we were able to get her out on the water around Sitka.

Anne and Craig have arrived and it's a comfortable reunion. They are virtually DE "plank-owners" (meaning first crew, along with Erne B) having joined us aboard in the boatyard 2006, before we actually took delivery and again in Subic shortly after our arrival there in 2007. They crewed with Kwakatu (DD 462-04) from Subic down along Palawan to Kota Kinabalu on Borneo and across to Singapore. And Craig made the whole voyage from Hong Kong to Seattle 2009, with Anne joining in Juneau for the trip down the Inside Passage.

After a couple of days to see the sights in Sitka, 1 August, we got underway north-bound up Olga and Neva Straits, back into the Pacific at Salisbury Sound - 10-15 knots wind out of the SW which put it and the 4-5' seas, on our port beam as the coast goes up to the NW. Weather-side p-vane fish into the water to steady things up a bit and we took advantage of Klokachef Is, Ogden Passage, Herbert Graves Is, Portlock Harbor and Imperial Passage to make most of our outside passage, actually protected and "inside". We over-nighted in Didrickson Bay (found that our paper chart, e-chart and cruising guide all had it wrong about the bottom profile at the head of the bay - came oh-so-close to scratching up that new bottom job, if not actually going aground.

That unsettling moment aside, the protected areas along the coast between Salisbury Sound and Lisianski Strait are a virtually endless playground of coves, beaches and meadows just waiting to be explored by skiff, kayak or dive gear; plenty of wildlife as well - sea otters everywhere, and on shore bear and deer. This is an area to which we'll have to return, with the time to really get into it.

2 August back out into the Pacific for the short run up to Lisianski Strait (possibly the location where the second ship in Danish explorer Vitus Bering's 1741 Russia-commissioned expedition to Alaska, put it's boats ashore, one after the other, never to be seen again). The opening is marked with a buoy, and requires attention coming in amongst the submerged rocks, wash rocks and shoals, but really no different than many of the coastal approaches along the north Sonoma Coast we've done so often in the past - anti-climactic when done properly (a real mess if done poorly).

Running up Lisianski Strait seems more like motoring up a river than an extension of the ocean - although a glance at the depth sounder showing 700 feet of water underneath the keel, makes it clear this is no river I've ever heard of. Then a right turn at the intersection with Lisianski Inlet and a short run down and across to the boardwalk town of Pelican. We were alone on the transient dock, and went into town to give the dogs a walk, and lunch for ourselves at the little café there. While it had been overcast and raining on and off all day, the skies cleared just enough to shine down on the bluff on the opposite side of the channel from Pelican, truly a spectacular piece of scenery! Dinner, a movie and an uneventful overnight at the dock.

3 August we made the short trip up Lisianski Inlet and into Cross Sound (our west coast arrival point, just over two years ago, at the end of our North Pacific crossing), and thence to Elfin Cove. Couldn't help but notice the many caves on the bluffs to the right just outside Lisianski Inlet, and again on the north shore of Three Hill Is, all of which look like great places to explore... so many adventures; so little time.

We found a place to raft up amongst the fish boats on the float at Elfin. The vessel Abyssinia was there; who we've frequently seen in Southeast, heard on the Great Northern Boaters Net and conversed with on the VHF. Erik and Kim winter the boat at Shilshole, just down the hill from the condo, so it's likely we'll get a chance to know them better this winter. The float was busier than I've ever seen it - 18 boats (mostly local fishboats) stacked up against it overnight. Dot made fantastic crab sandwiches for a late lunch (along with Alaskan Amber beer, of course). Later on soup and salad for dinner, and dessert at Shirley's Coho Bar & Grill, and a movie to finish the evening.

I enjoy seeing Dorothy re-connect with Shirley, with whom she shared grammar school, campfire girls and high school.

4 August we slept late, had a great pancake and sausage breakfast and a long hot shower ashore. I couldn't stand it anymore and changed out the main engine coolant (which includes plumbing loops into the water heater, and "Red Dot" heaters both aft and forward) messing up half the boat in the process. Dorothy especially loves this. Other than that, a slow easy day, overcast and cool, with occasional moments of sunshine.

This coming Sunday we're booked to take the ferry from Juneau up to Skagway (rather than take DE up). Skagway is the top end of the Inside Passage; historic start of the Chilkoot Trail up to the Yukon / Klondike gold rush of 1898. It should be faster and less hassle than cruising up in DE, as the 2-day run up (or down) Lynn Canal is likely to be windy and bouncy. We have some recommendations for housing the dogs in Juneau during the 4-day side-trip - hopefully it'll be OK with the boys (or, they may never forgive us).

5 August while we waited for the change of tide to head inwards from Elfin Cove, we talked with Shirley and her future son-in-law Jordon about old mines and such on Chigacoff Is, where we might do some exploring in the future. Jordan grew up in Pelican (high school graduating class of 3) and works with his father and brothers aboard their long-liner (fishing boat) Pacific Dawn.

Once the flood started, we headed eastbound in South Inian, past Glacier Bay and Hoonah, towards Juneau, overnighting at Swanson Harbor. This time we tied up to the state float instead of anchoring - easier to make an 0500 getaway in the morning for the last bit into Juneau.

6 August, noon, into Douglas Harbor across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau proper. The folks from Juneau Harbors are more than helpful, made room especially for us in Douglas. We rented a car, did laundry, took Rusty to the vet for a 'kennel cough' vaccination update required for his and Rascal's stay at the pet boarder tomorrow and had a great dinner at the Island Pub.

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Who: Mike (Dave) and Dorothy Nagle
Port: Sebastopol, CA, USA
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