Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 50-Pybus Bay to Petersburg

With about 55 nm to go today we got an early start.  The weather was beautiful in the morning.  Blue skies, sun, a bit of fog hanging low on the water.  Mountains were visible in just about every direction and the wind was light.
What a morning!
The first half of the day’s trip were easy, and we benefitted from a bit of current pushing us along.  Lots of humpbacks all around, and quite a bit of breaching and fin slapping in the distance.  Nothing too close, but that’s okay.

About half way through the trip we began hearing a whole bunch of commotion on VHF 16.  A 58 foot boat had struck a rock in Windham Bay and was taking on water faster than her pumps could remove it.  The Coast Guard responded promptly and sent two helicopters with dewatering pumps to the sinking boat.  A number of good samaritans nearby changed course to the vessel in distress and offered assistance.  Not too much later, the owner of the sinking boat got things mostly under control it sounded like (we could only hear the Coast Guard’s radio transmissions).  They were making way for Petersburg with an ETA of 7:00 pm.
Getting close to Petersburg
We got into Petersburg about 4:00 pm after a pleasant day on the water.  The wind picked up a bit in the afternoon, but it was coming from behind and didn’t make for uncomfortable seas.

Princess, a 40-foot sailboat from San Francisco owned by Bruce and Lynne was just down the dock from our slip.  They’re friends with Hans and Terri on Mellow Moments and I’d met them at Glacier Bay.  I swung by there boat to see if they had any recommendations for dinner places and we ended up going out to dinner with the two of them and Hans and Terri.

After dinner I walked over to the haul out area and found the boat that had been in distress earlier, still floating.  As I walked by the owner popped his head out and I said I was glad he made it in.  He ended up telling me the whole story of what happened and showed me the damage. 

Basically, he left the boat on autopilot with his wife in the pilothouse while he went to use the head.  A few minutes later he heard a crash.  Their port stabilizer fin had struck a rock.  He got the boat back to deeper water and then noticed the high water alarm going off in the engine room.  He went down and found the floorboards floating.  At this point he called the Coast Guard on the radio.

The “box” where the stabilizer fin shaft enters the boat was a mess of buckled fiberglass with saltwater shooting in through the cracks.  Not good, but the inflow was only about five gallons per minute, easily handled by the installed bilge pumps.  The owner said the initial problem was that he had blocked off the weep holes to prevent a bit of oil leaking out of his generator from being pumped overboard.  This also prevented water from flowing from the leak to the bilge pumps.  As soon as he got the weep holes opened up, his pumps had no problem keeping up.

He was really glad to have made it into port and extremely grateful to the Coast Guard and good samaritans nearby.  A really nice guy who made, as he termed it, a stupid mistake.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re off to LeConte Glacier and will probably spend the night in Ideal Cove.  Then back to Petersburg and down Wrangell Narrows.  We’ll spend the night at St. John Harbor and then head to Wrangell Monday morning.  A friend from college grew up in Petersburg and is working on a seine boat this summer.  He’s going to be in Petersburg Monday and Tuesday, so I’ll head back up to Petersburg Monday after dropping dad off.

52.9 nm today and 1,889.5 total

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