At the end of July (2017 – I’m less behind on the blog this year!), we returned to the town of Kodiak after a great cruise. We had chores and work to do – articles for me and statistical programming for Seth – but we also had some fun, mostly because we met a really great sailing family on their capable and beautifully maintained steel boat Galactic. Mike and Alisa had just returned from 10 years sailing around the Pacific and Atlantic, visiting some fascinating out-of-the-way places and raising their two boys, Elias and Eric, on board. Mike also managed to keep up with his science work while sailing, so he and Seth could talk shop (programming in R) together, and Alisa and I could talk (mildly gripe?) about the men’s constant search for WiFi while we ladies prefer total wilderness…. In all seriousness, though, it’s pretty cool to be able to work from the boat and then to meet other people who’ve had the same type of life for even longer and could give us great hints on not only beautiful anchorages around the world, but beautiful anchorages with WiFi! We meet a fair number of other sailors out here, and with some you just connect immediately, almost like you already know each other, and that was the case with Galactic. Obviously, it made our time in town!
But a sailboat isn’t meant to stay in port, so after 10 days we were off on the next leg of this summer’s voyage. We left about midday to time the flood tide through Whale Pass on the north side of Kodiak. We had a lovely sail with a steady northeast wind, cruising along under full main and jib, spotting puffins, humpback whales, and otters. The sailing was so nice that we thought about just keeping going and not bothering to anchor for the night. But our work and socializing in town had tired us out a bit so we did decide to anchor.
The next morning dawned foggy and windless, but a great showing of orcas and Dall’s porpoises made up for it.
And then the wind picked up, again from the northeast, and we had a tearing sail on a beam reach across Shelikof Strait to the Katmai National Park. We got to finish the sail flying our asymmetrical spinnaker among the islands at the entrance to the anchorage.
We had a good time in the Katmai – our third time there now – checking out the bears (who weren’t yet fishing for salmon as the fish had yet to come up the stream) and catching up again with our friend Leiv who was on his way back to Kodiak after cruising the Alaska Peninsula. Sailing’s a pretty small world – Leiv and the Galactic family are good friends, having met in Tasmania a few years ago while sailing there on their respective boats. While in the Katmai, Seth and I also met a Canadian couple who’d sailed their boat from Ontario by way of Portugal, Panama, and Hawaii, a nice circuitous route that took them several years and tens of thousands of miles. And then, on our way to another anchorage, we passed a boat we’d met in the South Pacific ten years ago. We were going different ways, so we only chatted by VHF radio, but it was good to talk. Seriously small world!
When we left the Katmai, we’d originally planned on a long day-sail to an island north of Kodiak, but the wind was so good – 20 knots from the southwest – that we just kept on going. It was a great downwind run, the best of the summer, rollicking along wing ‘n’ wing at 7-8 knots. Unfortunately, the party ended at about 2AM when the wind died and we had to motor in sloppy seas – the current was running hard against us out of Cook Inlet – and then it really ended around 5:30 when a strong easterly blew up (we were heading northeast) and the second reef decided to be a huge pain to put in. That ended up not mattering because the wind got strong enough that we didn’t want the mainsail at all, but it was frustrating at the time.
We got to the Kenai Peninsula, though, and were rewarded with glorious weather for sailing, fishing (and catching!) red and pink salmon, and just spending time at anchor and in the dinghy watching wildlife and canning our latest salmon catch in our pressure canner!
All too soon, we got some wind for sailing to Seward and had to head to town (and WiFi!).