Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
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.