Friday, May 20, 2016

Alaska 2016 | Day 5 | Squirrel Cove to Blind Channel

Today was the most satisfying and frustrating day of the trip. Satisfying because we got all the boats through the rapids safely and without drama. Satisfying because I got some cool aerial images from the drone as we transited the rapids. Satisfying because the weather continues to cooperate. Satisfying because Blind Channel is an excellent stop.

Frustrating because of boat and people problems. Not my boat, and not my people, thankfully.
Safe Harbour leading the way into Gillard Pass. The lack of swirlies and whirlies is notable...the rapids need not be difficult.
Clear of the rapids, on the way to Blind Channel. This is Event Horizon, a really well equipped Eagle 53.
During the flotilla, we communicate on VHF channel 68. This is a working channel—available on a first-come, first-served basis for recreational boats chatting about whatever. Today we shared the channel with a crazy couple...and crazy might not be a strong enough word.

For some reason, this couple decided they need a fleet to go cruising. With just the two of them. So they have a 47' powerboat that he runs. And he tows a 21' Ranger Tug. She has a 31' Ranger Tug. And she tows an 11' Whaler. Remember, there are only two of them.

As we approached the Yuculta Rapids, they were chatting on the radio. From their chatter, it was clear they had no idea what they were doing. Their voices were tense, they sounded disorganized. They followed us through, but couldn't agree which side to pass certain islands or where to spend the night.

After our group moored for the day, people started chatting about the conversation we overheard. The woman we overheard was instantly unpopular. The most polite nickname I heard for her was "sea witch," and that came from one of the most mild-mannered women on the trip. The other nicknames shouldn't be repeated in polite company...

So when we heard them call into Blind Channel looking for dock space, our ears perked up. The wife approached the dock first, without bothering to put the Whaler she was towing on the hip. She made it to the dock okay, but the Whaler swung wide and nearly hit another boat.

Then the husband came in, but not after nearly running aground twice while getting his tender tied to the hip and his fenders rigged. He sped to the dock, nailed the piling and cracked his solid teak cap rail. Four of us wrestled him to the dock. It wasn't elegant.

The other frustrating event hit closer to home. One flotilla boat has several mechanical and electrical problems. The port engine leaks lots of oil. The starboard water pump leaks water. The shore power doesn't work. Several days ago, when they were running their generator, I pointed out the heavy steam coming from the exhaust. In my experience, this means the cooling system isn't working properly—either a clogged sea strainer or a bad impeller. I pointed this out to the owner and suggested he investigate. I offered to investigate. He dismissed my suggestions.

Fast forward a few days. His generator is overheating. I go aboard. The sea strainer is clear. I pull the impeller cover and find NO vanes left on the impeller. I ask the owner for the spare impeller so I can install it. He doesn't have one. Almost everyone else on the trip has a spare, so I check with them...nope, nobody has the same unit, and none of the spares are compatible.
Hmmm...might this cause overheating?

Safe Harbour moored at Blind Channel
On the plus side, Blind Channel is great. The weather for tomorrow is great. The rapids were easy. Every day of this trip gets more beautiful. And I have a few more stories to tell.

36.88 nm today
192.86 nm total

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