Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 49-Red Bluff Bay to Pybus Bay

After several dry days, we awoke to lots of wind and rain this morning.  I was concerned about what this weather would be like outside the protection of Red Bluff Bay, but I couldn’t get a weather forecast inside the bay.  The weather radio has been quite spotty in here.

We pulled anchor around 7:00 AM and headed out, ready to turn around if it was too uncomfortable or unsafe.  Upon leaving the bay we were immediately greeted by a couple foot chop right on the nose, but we were able to make 10 knots without too much discomfort.  About a mile in I could finally get the weather…25 knots from the north in Chatham Strait.  Hmmm…not at all what was predicted last night.

We weren’t enjoying the ride, but it was tolerable so we soldiered on.  Conditions worsened in a few places, and we probably averaged only 8 knots on the way across, but it could have been worse.  Another good reminder that C-Dory’s don’t like head seas.  At times, the wind screamed through the straps holding the dinghy to the top of the pilothouse, making a sinister noise.  Combined with the heavy rain and nasty seas, it wasn’t a great morning to be on the water.

By the time we got to Frederick Sound the seas calmed down, although the wind was still strong.  I looked in the berth and noticed a bunch of water dripping down from the hatch.  It was closed and dogged down, so there must be a leak somewhere.
More typical Alaska weather
It's still pretty in the fog and clouds
Upon further inspection it appears the leak is from the black gasket that seals the window pane to the hatch frame.  The hatch frame has a piece of foam where the two sides of it meet, but this foam seems to have come slightly dislodged.  My theory is that this creates an opening that allows water through.  Since we’d had a lot of spray on the deck, combined with heavy rain, this makes sense.  My hope is this is the problem, and not an issue with how the hatch is bedded in the fiberglass.  That would be a more complex fix.

Anyway, as we worked our way further up Frederick Sound conditions continued to improve.  The rain let up, as did the wind, and we were surrounded by whales.  We could see many breaches in the distance.  I slowed down to hull speed since we were running so early and we enjoyed the ride into Pybus Bay.

The first stop was Cannery Cove, probably the largest of the anchorages.  A huge mountain, covered in snow and waterfalls, rises from the back of the bay.  It’s a scenic location, no doubt.  We dropped the hook and made lunch.  Mellow Moments came in and anchored as well, and we talked on the radio for a bit.  After lunch we decided to go check out Sheldon Cove. 
Cannery Cove
The Douglass guidebook describes this as an ideal spot for smaller boats, and they’re mostly right.  It’s intimate, with small islets (depending on tide) all around.  Sheldon Cove isn’t as imposingly beautiful as Cannery Cove; it’s more nuanced, quieter.  The rain had mostly stopped and I explored by kayak.  I spotted one bear, but he was shyer than the bears at Red Bluff Bay and retreated to the woods when he saw me approaching.  After being at Red Bluff Bay for a few days with a noisy waterfall, I was struck by the silence of Sheldon Cove.  I could hear the faint noise of a stream somewhere in the distance, but other than that the only noise was birds chirping and salmon jumping.
Brown bear and his reflection
We ended up enjoying a mostly dry day at anchor with temperatures in the mid 60s.  No sun, but that’s okay.  Tomorrow we’ll head to Petersburg for fuel and probably spend the night.  Then LeConte Glacier, St. John Harbor, and Wrangell so dad can catch his flight home on Monday.

45.0 nm today and 1,836.6 total


  1. Hey Sam
    Have been following your blog since last winter and really enjoying it. Your pictures are fantastic and just wondering which camera you use/
    We are also cruising this summer on our 60 foot Bayliner, went as far as Glacier Bay but did not make it to Sitka or Chatham Strait area due to autopilt problems and delays in repairs. Now in Ocean Falls on our way back south.
    We can relate to your comments about Alaska rain but agree there is no more beautiful place when the sun shines.
    Fair winds
    Bob and Vivian

    1. Sorry to hear about the autopilot troubles. I use a Nikon D300 and D7000 with a Tokina 12-24mm lens and Nikon 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses. Sometimes I'll put a Nikon 1.7x teleconverter on the 70-200. The high end Nikon glass isn't cheap, but it's extremely well built and produces great images.