Juneau to Sitka

8/13/2009:  Hi all.   Well it is that time of year.  We are leaving Juneau, AK this Saturday, August 15, for Sitka, AK and then south in outside waters rather than taking the Inside Passage.  We will end up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands north of Seattle where we will spend a week or so and then head to Des Moines, WA and then to our slip on Bainbridge Island when it becomes available in mid-September.   It is approximately 800 miles from Sitka to the San Juan Islands and by going outside we are hoping for some wind so we can sail rather than motor or motor sail.   This means we will be on watch 24/7 as we won’t be stopping at night to anchor but it will be worth it if we catch some wind!

Our time here in Juneau has been wonderful, visiting with family and friends; picnics on the beach, hiking, kayaking, fishing for halibut and salmon, taking off and anchoring out with friends, meeting new friends, all in SUNSHINE!   We have seen very little rain this year, especially compared to last year, and we’ve taken advantage of it as much as possible! 

We will email when we arrive in the San Juan Islands and update our website with pictures when we arrive in Seattle as we have been having problems sending photos this year.  Love, JoLe & KC (Mom & Dad)

8/16/2009:  It is Sunday night around 5:40 p.m. and we made it to Pavlof Harbor in Freshwater Bay, which is about 9 miles North of Tenakee Inlet where we originally planned on overnighting tonight.  The weather is awful, no two ways around it.  We averaged about 4.5 knots yesterday, 8/15, motoring, after we came around Point Retreat to Swanson Harbor due to wind on our nose.   When we left Swanson this a.m., 8/16,  we had winds of 25 - 38 knots, mostly in the 30's, again right on our nose so we turned toward Whitestone Harbor, lost some of the wind and waves and were able to make better time as were able to put up the mainsail and motor sail (this brought us up to 4+knots).  Once across Icy Straits we decided we might as well try turning the corner and not stay in Whitestone as tomorrow's weather report for Chatham Strait is the same as it is for today.  Basically, until 2 p.m. today we had sustained winds of 30+ and were averaging 4knots if we were lucky (lots of water over the bow and in the face!).  One good thing at least until around 2:30, didn't have much rain; now it's making up for it!! 

Did see lots of whales though and a pod of them bubble feeding, of course didn't catch their photo though.  They were awesome.  Also just watched a bear walk by on the beach.  Apparently there are quite a few up the creek that feeds into the harbor, at least that is what the captain of the Alaska Song told us.   We didn't expect anyone to be in this Harbor at all, so were surprised when we came around the corner and saw a fairly large charter boat in here.  After we got anchored lo and behold, in came another two boats.   It's starting to get a bit crowded and Alaska Song calls and complains to each one that comes in about where they are anchoring, in fact he asked one boat to move as they "took his view of the falls from the salon" of his boat.  Mind you they could see it from other sections of the boat and have been here since yesterday so have seen it and been up it for a day and half....ahhh, people.

We will bypass Tenakee this trip and head out tomorrow to beat our way down Chatham to Deadman Reach/Peril Strait (don't you just love the names?) on our way to Sitka.   Not sure where we will overnight and whether it will now take us one or two days, arrival in Sitka may roll to Wednesday.   Will try to sail mail if can.  Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC)  

UPDATE:   It is now Monday morning around 7:10 a.m., 8/17/2009.  We were unable to get last nights sail mail out as we couldn't get connected.  We have decided to spend the day here in Pavlof Harbor as we spent the night/a.m. with gusts of 20 - 28 knots here in the harbor which is VERY protected.  They are saying gale force winds in Chatham.  Our guess after the past few days is there are probably gusts to 40+ out there as we are reaching almost 30 in here.  Winds still from the South so they would be on our nose making progress slow going, sailboats motor slowly.  No one else has left this a.m. either although we were told last night by Alaskan Song that they were leaving this morning around 7 a.m. and they thought we were over where they had dropped anchor so they might get close to us when they pulled this a.m. to leave.  So far the only movement on their boat is someone on the back end pumping out their dinghy that was sinking from all the rain and seas from last night.

LATER: Just returned to the boat from watching a brown bear and her two cubs catching fish in the creek.  Fun sight and makes the stay over worth it besides getting to be lazy for a day.  Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC)  -----

8/18/2009:  We pulled anchor this morning and left Pavlof Harbor at 6:30 a.m.  The weather was much better than the past few.   No wind to speak of, no rain at all and we did get some sun spots later in the day.  We are currently anchored in a little bight off of St. John Baptist Bay, which is just off of Salisbury Sound and between Kakul Narrows and Neva Strait (to make it easier, about 17 miles North of Sitka). 

The best animal sighting today was coming down Salisbury Sound, KC spotted a mother otter swimming on her back, carrying not just one pup on her stomach, but three!  Of course she was too far away to get a good photo, but it was wonderful to see!   Saw lots of whales and a few porpoise.   Have become convinced that some of the whales come up and parallel the boat just to "eyeball" us and see what we are, it's kind of interesting to watch.   Fairly uneventful day (kind of nice!).  

Plan on leaving around 9 a.m. tomorrow, should be in Sitka by around 1 p.m.   Will have cell phone coverage and should have email also until we leave Sitka, which depends on the weather.  Love, Mom and Dad  (JoLe and KC)

8/19/2009:  Arrived in Sitka this afternoon,  Wednesday, August 19, a day later than expected due to the weather on our way out of Juneau.  Sunday’s and Monday’s weather was terrible with winds reaching 38 knots in Chatham Strait on Sunday.  With more of the same predicted for Monday we decided to take Monday off and stayed in Pavlof Harbor in Freshwater Bay which is off of Chatham Strait.   The weather was MUCH better on Tuesday and even better today.   We are sitting in Sitka’s Eliason Harbor in the sunshine while we get the boat ready to go offshore by stowing the dinghy away, tying down the anchor locker, doing our last provisioning, laundry and fixing anything that needs it.   

At this point, looking at the weather (wind reports are the most important to us), it looks like we may leave Sitka on Friday as the wind is supposed to pick up to 15 knots and switch to the NW.   Our main concern is that we need two days of wind (sail), or at least light winds (motor or motor/sail), which are NOT from the South otherwise we make no progress forward.  At that point we should be at Dixon Entrance and can either run in and wait out any Southerly wind or continue on if the wind continues to hold.  Once we reach Queen Charlotte Sound and Vancouver Island everything switches direction, at least it is supposed to, and we should have the wind at our backs for the rest of the run down the outside of Vancouver Island.  We’ve also decided not to spend the time going out 100 miles off shore, we’ll probably stay in a bit closer in case we need to duck in somewhere. 

If you don’t hear from us, figure we are leaving on Friday.   We will send Sail Mails as we can, hopefully it will be easier to connect offshore than it was going from Juneau to Sitka.  If we can’t get a Sail Mail out we will call JoLe’s mom with the SAT phone, so check in with her if you have questions about us.   We have cell phone and email coverage until we leave.   Love, JoLe & KC (Mom & Dad)

Photos to follow soon.
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