Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 38-Appleton Cove to Whitestone Cove

Today’s route is sheltered but somewhat complex.  To get through Peril Strait to Sitka, boats must pass through a narrow passage called Sergius Narrows.  Currents in Sergius Narrows can attain significant velocities and apparently pose a hazard to boats.  As such, guidebooks recommend transiting at slack water.

Today that was at 3:20 pm.  Given that I had about 20nm to run from Appleton Cove to the narrows, and I’d likely travel at an average speed of 5 knots, I needed to leave by 11:20 am.  I wanted some extra time in case currents slowed my progress (of course I had more speed available too) or I got slowed by interesting sights.  So I pulled the anchor at 10 am.

Soon after leaving Appleton Cove I spotted a big group of humpbacks.  I detoured slightly towards them, and was rewarded with the most interesting whale sighting of the trip thus far.  I think the whales were engaged in bubble netting, where they circle lots of fish, exhale to create a wall of bubbles, and then swim upward scooping up the disoriented fish.  The result was stunning.  Half a dozen massive humpbacks surfacing in sync, then diving for a few minutes, and repeating the procedure.  I watched for half an hour.

The rest of the trip to Sergius Narrows was unremarkable.  There was little other boat traffic, calm water, and just a few rain showers that actually gave way to sunshine!

As I approached Sergius Narrows traffic increased.  Several boats passed me going the opposite direction, including the State of Alaska fast ferry Fairweather, which threw out the largest wake I have ever seen.  It must have been 5 feet high!
The boat that created the tsunami wake
I ended up passing through Canoe Pass, a small boat alternative to Sergius Narrows.  With about 1.5 knots of current running, it was no problem.

The sun continued to shine as I made my way south through Salisbury Sound and Neva Strait.  I ended up anchoring in Whitestone Cove around 5:00 pm.  While I do get some wake from passing vessels, it’s fun to watch the variety of boats passing by.  Around dinner time a minke whale was swimming through the channel, as pointed out by a passing tour boat.  I saw it through the binoculars.
Salisbury Sound Sun
Unfortunately my laptop trackpad seems to have stopped working, or maybe working intermittently.  The computer is nearly four years old, but it otherwise works fine.  I doubt there’ll be an Apple repair place in Sitka, so I’ll probably just find an external mouse to buy and figure out the trackpad problem when I get home.  It is hard to use a computer without a mouse, though!

32.8 nm today and 1,598.1 total

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