Monday, August 9, 2010

Prince Rupert

Aug 5: I’m hating Granville Channel. Today, the same thing, 20-30 kts head winds. We tried to motor straight into it, but the waves really slowed the boat, at times below a knot, making it really hard to keep the boat pointed into the waves and wind. This time, since we had the choice, we decided to end this painful process early and hid in Kxngeal Inlet instead of our destination of Baker Inlet. Once on anchor we relaxed again, tried to trap some prawns with no success, had a shower, a shave, and enjoyed some sunny weather. The wind even kept the bugs away for most of the day. I even managed to update the blog for the first time through the sat-phone, but answering e-mails was not successful. Distance: 10 nm.

Aug 6: There are two reasons for a boat being tilted when at anchor: one is because it’s slightly overloaded on one side, which mine is, and the other is that it’s sitting on the bottom with its keel and the tide is going down, and the boat will soon lie on its side in a pile of mud. That was the scenario this morning at 5 am, when I felt a bit more tilted in bed than usual. I quickly got outside, the depthsounder read 3 ft, flashing light into the water verified it, I tried to pull on the anchor rode to pull the boat into deeper water with no luck, then wanted to start the engine but remembered that the evening before the prawn trap line got entangled in the rudder close to the propeller and we decided to leave the job till morning, so motoring into deeper water was out as well. After checking the tide charts, luckily the tide was now at its lowest and going up from now on. We only touched very lightly still moving with the keel in the mud but enough to tilt and keep the boat on either side. By 6 we were completely afloat again. Yes, embarrassing and shouldn’t have happened, but in this area I stopped trusting the depthsounder due to the many streams coming of the mountains and mixing fresh water in layers with sea water giving the sounder erratic readings, especially in inlets. So when I dropped the anchor at 50 ft and then swung a bit to a reading of 9 ft, I didn’t believe it, but I guess it was correct.
After almost a month of completely dry sunny weather today it rained for the first time. For the rest of the day we sailed on north getting completely soaked by sideways rain, but the wind was great and for once we with nothing but sails we moved up Granville Channel up to Kumealon Inlet, a very pretty place with many little islets within the cove and with the added mysterious look of fog and low clouds on the surrounding hills. Distance: 12 nm.

Aug 7: Today while motoring in zero winds to Lewis Island we heard a mayday call on the radio. An aluminum fishing boat 50 nm miles north of us in Dixon Entrance was hit by a wave and lost its windshield and became filled with water with only three inches left of freeboard. We heard Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio handle the emergency. The fishing vessel, Sunny Boy, with two people on board was caught in six foot swells in choppy weather in Dixon Entrance, the passage between Prince Rupert in Canada and Alaska, which is known for its rough conditions. It took about an hour for a nearby vessel to provide help, which is good or bad, depending on your perspective in the cold water, but everyone was saved. The situation reminded me again of the authenticity of this area and that unfortunate mishaps do occur and quickly with serious consequences, making me rethink my own entry into Dixon Entrance to get to Alaska, especially since I will be picking up some precious cargo in Prince Rupert – Karolinka will be at the airport here in 3 days :) Distance: 19 nm.

Aug 8: Today we arrived in Prince Rupert after motoring in zero wind and bit of fog but at least with a good tide pushing us into port. The port is bigger than I expected with tanker and cargo ships anchored in the middle and cargo loading docks on shore. The city has a population of about 13,000 so it’s the biggest town I’ve seen since leaving Victoria and it does feel odd walking around the city streets and in large supermarkets like the Safeway where everything is at hand. Even the wifi at the marina dock where I’m staying seems like a luxury. We had some very needed showers, went shopping and walking around town, and then for dinner at the Smiles Seafood Cafe where back in 1945 a steak dinner was 70 cents, today it was $20 but the portion was homemade-huge. We also saw the Kazu Maru on display in the fisherman’s memorial park, the Japanese fishing boat that was spotted overturned adrift by the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 80s. Two years earlier a Japanese fisherman was lost at sea while fishing from the city of Owase, coincidentally Prince Rupert’s sister city, and the boat slowly drifted onto our shores. Sadly, my Dad left today by bus for Vancouver, a 24 hour ride, it took us just under a month to complete the journey by sea. I will miss my cook and mechanic with his skills that provided me with a great deal of peace of mind on our trip. Now I’ll have to be bit more self-reliant. My next crew member is bit prettier, probably not a mechanic, and with cooking, I’m yet to find out :). Distance: 20 nm.

Aug 9: Today I’ve decide that Prince Rupert is as far as the Corsair will sail or motor rather. Time is running out and I only have one more week before needing to turn back south, this would get me into Alaska, which is officially just a few miles from Prince Rupert, and into Ketchikan, but still 300 nm away from my dream destination of Glacier Bay. The motor has held out with a single repair, but confidence in it I lack and I don’t think I should push my lack any further, especially with my precious cargo, Karolina, who’s Mom I promised a safe return home. Being so close to Alaska I’ve decided to cheat a bit and booked two tickets on the Alaskan Ferry going from Prince Rupert to Juneau with a two day stop in Glacier Bay. I will leave the sailboat here for a week, and let someone else worry about the marine weather forecast and motoring into north westerns, and enjoy the first few days with Karolina relaxed. We will than head back south chasing warmer weather with the north western winds hopefully continuing to blow but this time at our back.

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