Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 52-Ideal Cove to St. John Harbor

Another gloomy morning with low clouds and rain.  Oh well, at least the wind is light and we've had surprisingly good weather for most of the last week.  Today’s route leads north for about 15 nm, up Frederick Sound and into Petersburg.  From there, it’s south through Wrangell Narrows to St. John Harbor on Zarembo Island.

Because currents can run quickly through Wrangell Narrows, it makes sense to time a trip through to take advantage of favorable currents.  Today that means leaving Petersburg around 3:30 pm.

The trip up Frederick Sound was easy.  We cruised up at displacement speed and it took about three hours, putting us into Petersburg around noon.  We then tied up to wait for 3:30 to roll around.  We grabbed lunch while waiting and wandered around town a bit.  We walked to the haulout area where the Ocean Alexander was being worked on.  They had cut out the stabilizer fin and actuator assembly from the hull and were just finishing up putting a patch in place so the owner can continue cruising until he’s at a more capable yard.  The fiberglass around the fin shaft was pretty mangled and it seems like the system could have been designed to make something other than the hull (and therefore the watertight integrity of the boat) the weakest link. 
A look at the fin and surrounding hull after being cut out
While Wrangell Narrows requires careful attention, all hazards are well marked and I don’t find it challenging.  You just have to avoid getting distracted and drifting out of the channel.  We cruised through Wrangell Narrows at 14-15 knots and tied up at the Forest Service dock around 5:00 pm.

The old fishing boat with the loggers (“forest thinners”) living on it was still at the dock.  One of the guys recognized me and seemed surprised that I had made it back there. 

Dad and I took a walk along some of the logging roads to stretch our legs.  The scenery here isn’t as spectacular as it is further north, but it’s still beautiful.  When we walked back down to the dock a 60 foot powerboat was just pulling in.  I’d seen this boat in a nook near the entrance to Red Bluff Bay and again in Pybus Bay, but I hadn’t talked with the owners.  I helped them with their lines and then we started talking about normal boat stuff.

It turns out that the Carl and Debbie (the owners) are from Anchorage and now keep the boat, named No Rulz, in Wrangell.  They fly down for a few weeks at a time and then return to Anchorage.  Carl is a retired tug boat owner/captain and clearly knows boats inside and out.  They had Sunnfjord (a yard in Puget Sound) custom build their boat for them five or six years ago and it seems very well thought out for PNW cruising.  Carl and Debbie do a bunch of winter cruising in Southeast Alaska and said they really enjoy it.  It’s warm compared to Anchorage, and hardly anybody else is on the water.

Tomorrow I’ll drop dad off in Wrangell and then return to Petersburg to meet up with a friend from college.

43.6 nm today and 1,973.2 total

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