Photo: Mountain & glacier meadows in colourful bloom...
It's springtime in Alaska. The cold winds still blow and the snow has been replaced by incessant rain but there's plenty of warm sunshine too. And with the sun comes Mother Nature at her very best. Everything is in bloom, the bears are waking and the humpbacks have returned from their winter sojourns in Hawaii. Everything is good, the air is refreshingly pure and clean, when breathed into your lungs it feels as though you've left the pollution of civilisation a long way behind. All is good, all is perfect... or is it?
has taken a winter hammering. On getting back to Hoonah the first problem I found was the internal wood decor around the opening hatches had swelled and rotted. This was surely down to the intense cold of the lying snow that had buried the hatches for such a long period, conducting the freezing temperatures inside to the linings which I knew from my days in cold weather construction was a common problem in aluminium frames that had no thermal-break. Oh well, this would need to be fixed sometime soon and I buried the problem in my mind.
More seriously, next I found the anchor windlass handheld control was full of water, somehow the snow had gotten inside the anchor locker and filled the supposedly waterproof controller. Something else expensive but made in China... I didn't know there was a problem until I switched on the power to the windlass, which shorted out and the anchor tried to pull itself up of its own accord. The anchor was already stowed and secured, so by the time I was able to rush back below to turn off the power the anchor windlass motor had burnt itself out. Oh well, we carried a spare motor but it's a pig of a job to swap it out. Then the anchor light didn't work... it too was filled with snow water that had frozen and expanded... but the biggest problem, I was later to find out, was our copper hot-water cylinder had corroded, and so had the freshwater pump on our Volvo Penta engine. Not the bastard Volvo again...
Springtime in Alaska is when the pitfalls of a cruel winter begin to show its head. Especially with a sailboat. But then the fishermen were busy readying their boats for the summer season and I'm happy to say that they too were cussing and swearing the Alaskan winter. I spoke to Scott and Dennis and both their engines and sprung leaks from frozen hoses, quire bad in fact and Icy Queen
had a sheared her anchor rode... just plain rusted through. Dennis, the skipper of Pacific Hunter
said it was the worst winter in ten years. He said this whilst emptying his bilges from a broken inlet valve.
So we survived the fiercest Alaskan winter in ten years. Gary my step-brother is due out from England, he's a good lad my step-brother and we'll soon get on top of everything. We'll no doubt down a good few Alaskan beers in the infamous Office Bar or the Icy Straits Lodge and everything will start to take shape. In fact, I've already spent an inordinate amount of time onboard Icy Queen
drinking their beer and listening to the latest woes and fortunes of Alaskan fishing. But their ling cod and black cod freshly pulled from the springtime seas, then cooked with rice and first-crop spring peas is amazingly good. Wintertime in Alaska is a time for celebration and recompense, not a time to bemoan everything that's wrong, but a time to look forward to everything that's coming right.
Except, of course, for our bastard
Volvo Penta engine...
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