Sitka to Prince Rupert, BC

8/21/2009:  Hey all!  We are leaving Sitka, tomorrow, Saturday, August 22nd.  Our plans for the trip are as follows:

Leave Sitka, going outside but heading along shore, anchoring along the way, at most it should take us two days to make it to the bottom of Baranof Island and the mouth of Chatham Strait (we are looking at anchoring at Still Harbor Saturday night possibly unless we go further).

                Sunday leave anchorage and cross Chatham to the Coronation Islands and anchor in some bay there.   Apparently there are hundreds of whales congregated around the Island right now.

                Monday, Coronation Island to Craig (on Prince of Wales Island).   Depending on timing may hang around for a day in Craig.

                Craig to Dixon Entrance (one day).    At this point we will look at the weather again and decide whether to go inside or sail around the Queen Charlotte Islands but believe unless the winds are terrible that we will opt for outside as there are all sorts of places to anchor on our way down the Islands.   We may have to sit on the N. side of Dixon waiting for a weather window across but we shall see when we get there.   Either way,  inside or outside, we end up at Queen Charlotte Sound and we will again make the decision whether to go inside or outside, again preferring to go outside Vancouver Island and then into the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the San Juan Islands.    If we go outside Vancouver Island we will be running 24/7. 

                We will try to Sail Mail every night but as we mentioned in our last email, if we have problems getting through we will call JoLe’s mom using the SAT phone, so call her if you have questions.  

                If you need to get hold of us call us on the SAT phone and leave a message, we will get back to you or send us a Sail Mail (replies will not be instantaneous with either but we do check every day for messages).    Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe & KC)

8/22/2009:  We left Sitka this morning around 7:15 a.m. just in time to make it out of our slip.  The harbor master gave us a slip on the inside of the harbor so when the tides were in the negatives it was a bit dicey getting in and out.  Low tide this morning was a -2 at 8:30 a.m. so we snuck out at about -0- tide so had 9 1/2 feet under us (we draw 7 feet). 

The weather report had been for clear skies and 10 - 15 knot winds from the W, well we woke up to rain and no wind; hate to say it but we weren't terribly surprised!  We are currently anchored in a beautiful little inlet off of Big Branch Bay which is located on the S end of Baranof Island (8 miles from the S tip of the Island).  Would love to tell you that the rain cleared up today, but it didn't, it's still raining!  The positive things for the day though are that we saw two Puffins (birds that we haven't seen since last year in the Northern Gulf of Alaska), a group of about 6 sea otters, no babies that we could see, and a large group of sea lions laying about on the rocks as we went by many a rock.   This area of Alaska is beautiful, dotted with so many little islands and rocks.  KC and I agree though that the best was getting far enough off shore that you couldn't see land.  There were great rollers, a bit of wind, but not enough to sail by, rain and some fog, so we simply tucked ourselves under the dodger in the companionway and read as we went along, checking the horizon, our course, the radar and AIS every 15 minutes, it was great! 

Planning on leaving early tomorrow, not sure where we'll end up, but plan on heading to the inside of the Coronation Islands toward Craig (may try to make it there in one day due to weather forecast, we'll see).  Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC) 

8/23/2009:  Pulled anchor this morning at 6 a.m. and headed out.  Only had a bit of rain and then it turned sunny, unfortunately still no wind, at least in the direction we need it to sail.   Saw LOTS of wildlife today, flocks of Puffin (I love them, they are hysterical when they try to fly, they were my favorite bird that I saw last year but we didn't see them after we came into Cross Sound, now we are seeing them but just here at the southern tip of Baranof Island, again in the Gulf of Alaska). My gosh we probably saw over 100 sea otters as we cut across the Gulf of Esquibal to the San Christoval Channel (we were taking a short cut through a bunch of breaking rocks, shallow water etc., all of sudden they were all around us, this time we got great pictures!), a frigate bird off Coronation Island and whales, and more whales and then more whales in San Alberto Bay on our way into Craig, they formed a perimeter around the Bay, it was awesome, in fact to get to the outside markers to the harbor entrance we had two whales who dove under the boat, we watched them on the depth finder as they went under the boat! 

Made it to Craig today around 6:30 p.m., long day, but enjoyable.  Forecast is for a gale to come in tomorrow morning and last through Tuesday morning which is why we pushed to get to Craig today rather than tomorrow as planned.  Looking forward to spending a couple of days here as planned, the harbor is nice, so are the people we've met so far.  We will have cell phone and internet until we leave (maybe Tuesday a.m., depending on weather?).  Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC)  

8/25/2009:  Hey all!  The weather is just not wanting to cooperate with our plans so we are bending our plans to match the weather; there is gale after gale after gale coming in, the winds are coming from the South and are strong.  

Tomorrow the winds are supposed to subside to 15 – 20  knots, at least in the area we are in, so we will leave Craig tomorrow morning around 9 a.m. to catch currents through the Tlevak Narrows (we leave here via Bucareli Bay and Ulloa Channel) then into Tlevak Strait to Cordova Bay which is just N. of Dixon Entrance.   We will cross Cordova Bay and anchor overnight just above the Barrier Islands.   Thursday we will wind our way through the Barrier Islands via Eureka Channel into Dixon Entrance; if the weather is okay (it’s not supposed to be as of today, but who knows by then) we will take off across Dixon to Dundas Island and anchor there overnight and go into Prince Rupert on Friday to check in.   If the weather is terrible we will skip into Nichols Bay at the end of Prince of Wales Island and wait the weather a day, heading across Dixon on Friday going through Brown Passage directly to Prince Rupert (the weather is supposed to be decent on Friday, at least as of today’s forecast).   After that who knows …. We have a semi-plan but until we know what the weather is going to bring will hold off making any decisions.

Craig is really a neat little town, quite quaint.   We’ve walked everywhere we’ve needed to go, the post office, pizza place, gift shopping, restaurant for dinner last night, coffee shop, grocery store, etc.  Weather cleared up today and everyone came out on the dock to visit!   LOTS of fishing boats in, they all started showing up Monday, and then even more showed up last night, they are 3 to 5 deep in places, side-tied to each other, including behind us.   It will be interesting trying to get out of here tomorrow as we are hemmed in on all sides; the guys next to us, who stick out from the slip about 8 feet, have volunteered to use their tender to pull us out!  Not sure that’s what we had in mind when we talked to them about us leaving in the a.m. and maybe needing some help, I can see it now, being pulled out by the stern, how embarrassing, although I’m sure all the fishing guys would love it, they love to rib us about being sail boaters! 

Will send Sail Mail as can, SAT Phone if can’t to Gma AK (same old, same old…).    Love you all.   Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC)

8/26/2009:  Left Craig at 8:30am and dropped anchor at 6:15pm.  No rain, truly sailed for an hour out of the harbor at 6.5 to 7.5 kts, turned, wind dropped to nothing and motored on with sun.  Not what was forecast and no complaints. Gales were forecast for today and the next several days so we will see what we actually have.  Did have 5-20 kt winds later in the day but no use for sailing. Anchored at the north end of the Barrier Islands on the north side of Dixon Entrance.  Beautiful spot and should be scenic winding our way through the islands tomorrow.  Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC)  

8/27/2009:  Pulled anchor this morning around 6:45 a.m. and headed through the Barrier Islands toward Dixon Entrance to see what the weather was really like out there (weather forecast was for East Winds of 35 - 40 Kts.).   Well, they were right.  Winding our way through the Islands was quite scenic and fairly uneventful although the closer we got to the entrance to Dixon the windier it got.   When we came out into Dixon we were met by 40 knot winds and when we turned to run for Nichols Bay at the southern tip of Prince of Wales Island so we could wait it out we found we were only making anywhere between .9 - 3.0 knots headway.   Not a pleasant day!  Needless to say the Barrier Islands are as scenic going out as they are in!   We turned around and headed back in.  We checked out a couple places we thought we might be able to anchor in but none seemed very good so we ended back up where we were last night; it in fact is quite a bit windier also.  The weather forecast for tomorrow is SE winds down around 15 - 20 knots so will pull out and try it again.  Some day we may reach Seattle, not sure when.   We have a lot of food on board, air drop may be needed at this rate!!!   Love, Mom and Dad  (JoLe and KC)   PS  KC can slap himself with water just as well as I can! and salt water makes his hair VERY curly.    

8/28/2009:  Pulled anchor, or should I say anchors, this morning around 7:15 a.m. and headed back through the Barrier Islands toward Dixon Entrance to try crossing again.  Last night we dropped our second anchor around 6 p.m. with 30+kt winds; we were holding with one but swinging fast through 180 degree arcs, with the second anchor down it really helped.  Still had a restless night though with constant position checks.  Watched two movies in the evening and ate popcorn to while away the day while it rained and rained and rained! 

Got out to the beginning of Dixon Entrance and thought about running to Dundas Island, overnighting and then heading South to Prince Rupert tomorrow but decided the ride was better just turning and heading across to Prince Rupert even though we won't get in until sometime early Saturday morning, 8/29.  We are currently about 1/2 way across and have been averaging only about 4.5 knots until about the last hour (we've been motor sailing but the winds are from the SE and we are heading that way also).  Winds have been between 15 - 35 knots and waves between 6 - 15 feet (lots of water over the bow).  No rain though, that is good.  In fact, the sun came out about an hour ago and we are basking in it!    Love, Mom and Dad  (JoLe and KC)

8/29/2009:   Hey all!   We are not in Seattle as originally planned by this date but instead we are in Prince Rupert, BC.   We arrived Friday, August 28, at 11:30 pm AK time or Saturday, August 29, at 12:30 a.m. PST / BC time depending on which you are using (we were using AK time as that is where we left from at 7:15 a.m. on August 28th).     For those of you who haven’t been receiving Sail Mail our trip to Seattle has been very slow going due to weather conditions (constant gale winds from the south which is the  direction we are try to go making it difficult to head south); our plan had been to be basking in the sun in the San Juan Islands this weekend, but here we are, just barely in BC.   Not to say this is bad, it’s been interesting; we’ve had a good time so far, met some neat people, seen some beautiful places, gone some places we hadn’t planned, such as Craig, AK, the Barrier Islands off of Prince of Wales Island and seen a lot of Dixon Entrance we hadn’t seen before (lots of water at all different heights and angles).     Our plan to head outside and off the coast and sail hasn’t quite worked the way we’d planned so we have been adjusting our plans daily!    

For those tracking our exact route we will be leaving Prince Rupert tomorrow morning and heading South but instead of taking Grenville Channel, Fraser Reach, Graham Reach, Finlayson Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound to Queen Charlotte Sound we are looking at  turning southwest and taking Ogden Channel, Petrel Channel, S half of Principe Channel, Nepean Sound, Estevan Sound and Loredo Channel to Queen Charlotte, these are all to the West of the normal Inside Passage.     Taking these channels allows us, depending upon the winds and weather, to either head out into open water and sail or stay somewhat inside and motor along.    When we reach Queen Charlotte we will then see what the weather looks like and make the decision whether to follow the Inside Passage or go outside and sail the West side of Vancouver Island to Seattle.    Love, Mom and Dad (JoLe and KC)

Photos to follow soon.
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