Sailing Alaska

A beautiful place to be!

03 June 2008 | Seward, Alaska
20 July 2007 | Seward,Ak
18 July 2007 | Prince William Sound
11 June 2007 | Seward,Ak
09 June 2007 | Seward,Ak
27 May 2007 | Sunny Cove, Resurrection Bay, Alaska

Weekend Guest and Our New Boat Dog

11 June 2007 | Seward,Ak
Our new Boat Dog Pugsley! Think being on the boat bothers him?

We headed back down to the boat on May 31 in the afternoon. We had a big weekend planned. Fay had invited her department from Providence to come down and go on the boat. Everyone was to come down over three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Some were camping, some were in motor homes, and some stayed at hotels. We stayed on the boat. Because we live in a busy world, not everyone could come for the entire weekend. Not everyone could come at the same time. That spread things out a bit so that it didn't get too crowded and things stayed safe. It worked out very nicely, and I hope everyone had a nice time.

A few people came down on Friday, so we took our boat on the bay for a little while and had a nice sail. The skies were overcast, the seas were calm, and the breeze was light. The sailing was very mellow and flat. That was probably a good thing because I don't think any of these folks had ever been on a sailboat before. When I'm showing someone something new, something I enjoy, I hate to scare them the first time out. Sailing can feel unstable to people that are not familiar with it. I think everyone that was on that sail had a good time and I don't think I scared anyone. I know I thoroughly enjoyed it. How could you not? We were out on the bay! In a sailboat! With great people! It wasn't raining! And life was good!

The next morning, Saturday, we woke up to rain. Kind of a drizzle. While people started showing up and it wasn't long I had quite a few people on the boat. I had our rain fly out so everyone had a dry place to sit. Some of the people wanted to fish so after organizing everyone to get licenses and Derby tickets for the Halibut Derby. Fay decided we needed to get some stuff from the grocery store so off we went.

Now we've been looking for a dog, not just any dog but a pug, for about four weeks now. The kids have been pestering me for about 2 1/2 years to get a dog. And I've been able to hold out since then. When I was back in the states for my daughter's wedding in April, I met my son's pug named Tater. He's a pretty nice dog and convinced me to give in to the children. There were some pugs in the paper but when we called on them they had already all gone. And we hadn't seen any pugs in the paper since. Well wouldn't you know it when we got to the grocery store here was the most adorable little pug you ever saw. Fay had to have him. "It was meant to be." she said. Now we have a new boat dog. His name is Pugsley. He is about the cutest thing you'll ever see. Pugsley seemed to love the boat. And I think he will make a good boat dog. Since the girls weren't coming down until Sunday we decided to surprise them.

After everyone was finally organized and I gave a short safety briefing we were off. There was no wind and the seas were extremely flat. We motored out by Fox Island, and drop the hooks.

I must confess at this point that I'm not a fisherman. That's not to say that I've never caught fish. I'm just not obsessed with fishing. And I'm not very good at it.

Now back to the story. We floated around for a couple hours while everyone fished. Unfortunately the only thing that we caught were a couple of Starfish. Both on the same line. It was starting to get late. So we decided to pull up the hooks and head back to the harbor. I was disappointed that we didn't catch a fish, but I've experienced that before, and have learned to cope with it.

Still flat, calm, and rainy we motored toward Seward. While I was scanning the horizon I noticed bump on the surface of the water. "Whale" I hollered and pointed. Everyone rushed to the side of the boat to see. A few moments later we saw the humpback again. This time he blew hard, and his fluke came completely out of the water and square on to us. A picture perfect shot. When I've seen this before I rarely see the whale again. I think it's an indication that they're going deep or far. In this case we never saw the whale again. I don't care how many times you see them it's always a thrill. Almost everyone on the boat saw him. Unfortunately there were a couple people that didn't. I was a bit sad for them. Then while scanning the horizon again, I saw a dorsal fin. "Whale" I hollered and pointed. Now I know that Orcas are not in the whale family. They're in the dolphin family. I just like yelling "Whale". Anyway this is a big guy. He had a huge dorsal fin and was probably at least 20 ft. long. He was all by himself and headed for Humpy Cove. He managed to stay in view for 5 or 10 minutes so everyone got a pretty good view of him. That was pretty cool. Our guests got to see an orca and a humpback. Life is good.

When we got back to the harbor Fay and I docked the boat. We were in and out of the slip quite a few times over the weekend and not every docking was perfect. And I don't remember which dockings were the good ones and which ones were the not so good ones. All of the dockings accomplish the desired result. All were safe. And no damage was sustained not even a scuff. I was really only disappointed with one of our dockings. Most went quite well and a few were picture-perfect. I've been sailing for about 11 years and docking can still be a little bit challenging. Especially when the boat is new to you. I do pretty well but I always strive to do better. Last year I learned a new technique for docking and I just love it. It works really well. It's a single hand technique that uses a single line fastened a mid ship and fairly long. You pull up to the forward cleat and drop a line over the cleat. The line is then brought back to the sheet winch for the jib. This restricts one direction of travel. At that point you shift the boat in reverse, and the line sucks you right up against the dock. It works really well as long as you snag that cleat. Now that your hard against the dock you can step off the boat and tie up your normal dock lines. After they are secure you can shut off the engine.

Once we were tied up to the dock we realized that everyone was hungry. So I fired up the barbecue grill and we started grilling. It was hamburgers and hot dogs time accented with a little beer. Only problem no hamburgers or hotdogs. Fay and a couple of the girls headed to the store. They came back with the beef. Salads were being prepared a few things had been grilled already and it was my time to show off my talents. I am a man and there are only a couple things that men can do better than women. One is pissing out a fire and the other is barbecuing. Now I don't mean to brag but give me a spatula, some tongs, or a fork, put me in front of the barbecue grill on the back of my boat and I excel. I can usually put out some pretty mean protein. OK now it's excuse time. The hamburgers they brought back were frozen and not extremely lean. Everyone was hungry and wanted to eat. So I was in a hurry. Barbecuing is not meant to be hurried. But what do I do? Crank up the heat of course. Now I have hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill with the heat crank up and the grill starts to smoke a little bit. OK quite a bit. So while I'm standing there doing my thing I glance around and notice a couple of police cars up on the breakwater. Then I notice an ambulance in the parking lot. Then I notice a fire truck up by the harbor master. So I'm wondering what's going on. The next thing I know there is this guy coming up the dock. I think to myself "What the heck does he want". He walks up and asked "Is everything OK?". I say "Sure!". So he tells me someone called in a fire at the harbor and I ask him if he wants a hamburger. He politely declines and heads back up the ramp. OK! You tell me! How do you live that down? The next thing I know I hear comments like "You can tell when Dan's done cooking, when the Fire Department shows up." and "Hurry up and grab one of Dan's Three Alarm Burgers.". I mean really. Too funny don't you think. Anyway now I'm not sure if the guy that came down to check on us was being polite or just figured I wasn't much of a cook. I guess it doesn't matter. All in all the burgers and hotdogs didn't come out too bad. Although they were little more done than I wanted them. Everyone seemed to have a great time. And as for me I enjoy being a clown and don't mind if people laugh at me. Good thing to. Because there was plenty of laughter.

As people started getting tired and it was getting late, everyone started drifting away from the boat, heading back to their perspective sleeping quarters. Fay had invited her brother and some friends of ours from Anchorage spend the night on the boat with us tonight. They had got there earlier in the day but didn't get on the boat because it was pretty crowded. They waited until the crowd started to thin out then came aboard and stowed their gear. By now it was almost midnight. I was beat and they wanted to play poker. I bowed out of the poker game but Fay took them on. Well it was almost three o'clock before the poker game broke up. And we went to bed after having a great day on the water.

The next morning, Sunday, some of the people from Fay's work stopped by to bid their farewells. They were headed back to Anchorage. A few people didn't have to leave in the morning, so we took them sailing. The day was partly cloudy with less than 2 ft. seas and about 10 to 15 knots wind. It was the best day of the weekend weather-wise. We had a beautiful sail that afternoon. After sailing for a while we headed back to the harbor and the remaining people left for Anchorage.

To all of those who came along that weekend and you know who you are, let me just say "It was my pleasure to take you out boating.". As skipper it is a big responsibility to take people out on your boat. I take that responsibility very seriously. Although prior to the weekend I was a bit nervous about it, everything went very well and everyone cooperated very well which made my job a lot easier. My anticipation eased up early in the weekend.

Tammy and Kendra came down with Kendra's mother Dawn and her friend Pat Sunday afternoon. They had no idea that we had a new dog. They came aboard and we let Pugsley lose. They were so excited. They must have squealed for an hour. I think they like their new pup.

Dawn had never been on the boat and neither had Pat. So we took them out for an afternoon sail. We had barely left the dock when Dawn dropped one of her flip-flops in the water. So of course we had to go around and pick it out but it took a couple passes. That late afternoon sail was absolutely wonderful. I think Pat and Dawn both enjoyed it.

Fay and I started tidying up the boat like we usually do when we get back from a weekend on the boat. After everything was tidy and we were relaxing, my friend Mike from Phase II came over. He had driven down late in the evening with the motor for his boat. Last fall we pulled the Universal 18 horse diesel engine out of his boat and rebuilt it. He was here to put it back in. The plan was to start on it first thing in the morning. It was a very nice evening so we just relaxed and had a few beers.

Monday morning came early and Mike and I got to work. We had figured it would take about 12 hours to reinstall the engine. But you know how things go and it actually took us two days. Fay headed back Monday afternoon and I stayed on the boat. We had worked fairly steady on Monday with a few small interruptions but hadn't quite finished it.

The next day was Tuesday morning and Mike and I picked up where we had left off. By late in the afternoon we had the engine installed and running. All that it was left to do was to align the prop shaft. Mike has a 27 ft. Gulf. Aligning the prop shaft is quite a challenge. I'm a fairly big guy and could hardly get to it. I did manage to get myself stuck at least once. I only panicked a little bit but did manage to get myself free. I wasn't confident that we had the prop shaft aligned properly so Mike and I broke off there. This week a friend who knows much more about alignment is going down to take a look at it. Better safe than sorry. The engine and engine compartment look great.

On June 14 I go on leave for three weeks. We plan to head to the boat on the 15th. After topping everything off and loading the groceries we will cast off for Prince William Sound. I can't wait.

Until the next time, Calm Seas and Fair Winds.

PS. I added a some pics to our gallery!
Vessel Name: Soul Mate
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 36
Hailing Port: Seward, AK USA
Crew: Capt'n Dan, First Mate Fay, Swab Tammy, Swab Kendra
About: We've been sailing since 1995. Just got our 36' Catalina MKII in 2006 and just love it. Our plan is to cruise after I retire in just a few years. We are currently gaining experience. Alaska is a wonderful place to sail.
Extra: Dan says... I'm an Energy Conversion Specialist in Alaska. I�m 48 and hope to retire in 4 to 5 years, and when I do �I�m Going Cruising�! Fay is a Home Health Nurse in Anchorage, When I go cruising I want to take her with me!
Soul Mate's Photos - Sailing Alaska (Main)
22 Photos
Created 20 July 2007
These are photos of the boat before we bought her...
11 Photos
Created 17 July 2007
This album is for the pics that don't fit elswhere!
8 Photos
Created 17 July 2007
Calm Seas and Fair Winds!