Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 37-Hoonah to Appleton Cove

Since I couldn’t get fuel yesterday evening and I needed to fill up before heading towards Sitka, I was stuck in Hoonah until 9:00 am when the fuel dock opened.  I woke up at 8 to the same soaking rain that I had gone to sleep to, made a quick breakfast, and headed towards the fuel dock at 8:30.  I waited at the fuel dock until about 9:05, then filled up the tanks (37.8 gallons at $4.86 per gallon) and headed out.

Almost immediately I was fighting a current of about 1 knot.  Since I wanted to make it to Peril Strait and got a late start, I needed to make better time in order to arrive during daylight.  I bumped up the speed to about 11 knots and made good time to the north end of Chatham Strait.
Evidence of fairly recent logging.  Compared to BC, there seems to be little logging in Alaska
On the way I saw a ton of humpacks, including some broaching.  I hadn’t seen that before, and it puts the size of these beasts in a whole new perspective.  They are massive…up to 90,000 lbs!
Two humpbacks breaching, from a distance
Synchronized breathing
The water where Icy Strait and Chatham Strait meet was rough, with the kind of short, steep head seas that make C-Dory owners cringe (these boats have flat bottoms and pound like crazy in certain conditions).  After a few miles of rough water things calmed down, and I slowed down, thinking I’d made enough miles to relax for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately the current was still running strongly against me, somewhere around 1.5 knots.  I bumped up the RPMs to 2200 and was only making 4.2-4.4 knots.  Ouch!

I cruised slowly down to about Tenakee Inlet, where I made a detour to see a group of humpbacks breaching.  By the time I got close they were done with their acrobatics, so no good pictures, but it was still fun to watch.

The seas had been building before my whale watching, but when I turned back into them they seemed brutal.  Three to four feet at about two to three seconds…absolutely brutal, no matter what speed I went.  I bumped the speed up to about 8 knots and employed the trim tabs and engine trim to keep the bow down as far as possible, but the pounding was absolutely horrendous.

The conditions were far from dangerous, but incredibly unpleasant.  Definitely the least comfortable day of boating so far this trip, and it seemed like the 40nm in Chatham Strait took forever.  After some of the particularly jarring landings, the radar would temporarily shut off and a message appeared saying “Checking HW.”  Not sure what that means…

Finally as I got into Peril Strait conditions improved.  The sun even peaked out a bit, and a rainbow spread across the sky behind me.  I cruised up to Appleton Cove, which the guidebook promised is the most protected anchorage in Peril Strait.  After a miserable day on the water, I wanted to have a peaceful night at anchor.
A respite from the waves and rain!
75.2 nm today and 1,565.3

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