Photo: Dock at Meyers Chuck
All day we'd been sailing downwind in rough seas, hanging on as the boat rolled and tossed. We were sailing from Ketchikan to Meyers Chuck. Behind us shrouds of rain hid the land but ahead it was clear. I was looking forward to a peaceful anchorage.
Steve scanned the shore ahead with the binoculars, looking for the green buoy that marked Meyers Chuck's entrance. "Just off that island," he said. We're right on course."
Meyers Chuck's harbor is formed by a series of islands and as we sailed along the shore, a gap in the islands gave us tantalizing views of picturesque houses and boats. A few minutes later the entrance came into view. Steve turned Osprey
towards the channel, bringing the boat beam to the wind. As I cranked in the jib, he pulled in the main. The boat slowed as the island at the harbor's entrance blanketed the wind, giving me a chance to jump up to the cabin top and prepare the main for lowering.
As we rounded the corner, we turned into the wind and the harbor came into view. We could see there was just room on the dock for Osprey
. Steve started the engine and I dropped the main, then raced back to the cockpit to roll in the jib and get out the fenders.
We motored by the dock, passing several powerboats whose occupants waved as we coasted by.
"All those powerboaters could be helping us tie up, and they're just waving!" griped Steve, trying to position Osprey
in the south wind which was pushing us off the dock. We made another pass. By the time we got into position, four people stood on the dock ready to take lines. A few minutes later we were tied up.
We were chatting with our helpers and doing last minute adjustments to the lines when another man joined the crowd. "What seamanship!" he exclaimed. "You not only sailed to the entrance, you sailed into the harbor!"
Surprised by this exuberance, I laughed and explained, "This is a perfect harbor to enter in a south wind. The island protects us from the strong winds when we're in the channel and when we turn into the harbor, we're headed into the wind so it's easy to let down the sails."
Steve turned to the man and asked, "Haven't we met you before?"
"Oh, yes. I'm Dan. Your wife took a picture of my butt and put it into her book!" He laughed.
What was he talking about? I didn't go around taking pictures of butts.
Later as we showed one of the boaters a copy of Glaciers, Bears and Totems
, I saw I had taken a photo of him from behind as he operated the community's small portable sawmill. That angle gave the best view of the process of cutting lumber. But it wasn't just his butt, it was his whole back.
"At least I was dressed as an Alaskan," Dan said. "Carhartts and Xtratufs."
Is the sawmill still working?" Steve asked him.
"Yes, we've cut lumber for four houses so far this year." The community has no road for delivery of lumber or building supplies so everybody pitches in helping each other build their houses.
Dan returned to the issue of sailing. "Every summer I see sailboats motoring by when the wind is blowing a beautiful 15 knots. It doesn't make sense. "
I looked around at the picturesque harbor with its attractive wooden houses built on small islands scattered around the shore. Just looking at the scenery made me feel calm. Then I looked at the dock where traveling boaters and residents mingled. Motoring or sailing by and not stopping at Meyers Chuck is what didn't make sense to me.
Read more about Meyers Chuck including its quirky history inGlaciers, Bears and Totems: Sailing in Search of the Real Southeast Alaska.
Photo: Houses in Meyers Chuck
To see a map of Meyers Chuck google Meyers Chuck, Alaska