Archive for June, 2010


Finally, can I get some work done?!

Today finds me in Port Protection which I stopped by last year. There is no cell phone coverage but there is a place here, the only place here, which happens to have internet. Today I plan on taking my dinghy down to Hole In The Wall and then tomorrow I plan on fueling up and moving down through El Capitain which is on the outside of Prince of Wales. Looking back thus far, it seems the first 60 days were so productive while the last 17 days feels like not much has been accomplished and I am starting to get frustrated. The weather is part of this, with the winds and rain. Nothing like last year as of yet but even last year had a pretty wet June, especially the latter half. Then last year the sun broke out for all of July and August and well – I just don’t know what to expect this year.

But at least I am finally outside POW again and can start working my way around Sea Otter Sound and then down farther towards my goal, circumnavigating POW. And in truth, time is on my side. If I only have to go along this side and pick up as many of the outside islands as possible and the weather at least tries to co-operate, then it will still be a very successful season. I think thus far I have traveled some 850 nautical miles. I wanted to reach 1500 nm and at one point at the rate I was going should have reached almost 2100 nm. But that isn’t in the future now. So with the delays due to the malfunction of my camera, my dinghy engine, and just the weather and winds in general, life has slowed down and my pace seems like a crawl.

I think knowing the bears are coming out and the salmon is finally showing and summer temps still are cool or down and I am not moving very far is just getting me down a bit. I want to see bears, and whales, and ocras and I have seen more docks and piers and people. But anyway, time to pick up the pace and get back to what I come here for, another season in Alaska – in between communities out in the wild and amongst the natural beauty. Just checking in and moving along.


Well, change of plans

My crossing failed. I was already across at the southern part of Prince of Wales Island and went back to Ketchikan for the dinghy engine that was failing. So I was heading back to start up where I left off. The forecast was 2 foot seas and light winds. Was actually 8 foot seas and 35 knot winds. Did not make it across. Had to turn with the wind and waves, once half way across, and ride it out and finally made it safely to Meyers Chuck. Sat there for three days while waiting for the storm to pass. Now today made it across and at Coffman Cove, heading north for safer waters, and will come around to head south. Maybe by then calmer winds will be in the south as summer progresses. I will at least be able to stay more inside between islands on the way down on the outside of Prince of Wales. So if I get all the way down toward the south and the winds have not abated at Cape Chacon, then will just not make it around the souther most island. That would be a bummer but not the end of the world. I would rather stay safe than be sorry. And with that I would double back and move on up north for my final few stops at Tracy and Endicott Arms and more glaciers.

Otherwise, the new replacement camera and the dinghy motor are both working perfectly and as long as there are no other problems to attend, should be able to start making great progress once more. So for now, staying smart and safe and will continue to do so…


Back already! But gone again – soon!

My dinghy engine was acting up but I thought it would clear up after some general maintenance but oh no… my engine had to give me problems and kept dying on me. So, even though I had just crossed Clarence Strait for what I was truly hoping was the last time, I woke at 3:30 a.m. today to cross once again back to Ketchikan and yes, now I have to cross yet again to the other side. All for a carb that was sticking and needed a quick overhaul. So for $130 I get to cross again – lucky me. I hate this crossing so far more than any I have done in the four years I have been doing this. Absolutely hate it. But maybe this time once I cross it will be for the last time and I can keep moving in my direction I need to go.

But at least I can now have confidence in my engine now and know it won’t die on me like yesterday at a really bad time. Confidence, priceless.


Leaving today

Heading out. Have the camera and all is well. Route unknown but will play it safe and not put myself in danger, nor my boat. I enjoyed my stay in Ketchikan and met some really great people that own the new bar – The Asylum. They have been most helpful and let me hang around and get caught up before leaving. If ever in Ketchikan, stop by and say hello to Danielle and Carlos. Till later, all have a great summer, stay cool….


Back in Ketchikan after 18 days away

Well, I am back in Ketchikan after going around the Behm Canal which leads around Revillagigedo Island and places like Walker Cove, Rudyerd Bay, and Punchbowl Cove. Some of these areas were truly stunning as I had heard. Then I continued down to Foggy Bay, Kah Shakes, Village Island, Pond Bay, and Winstanley Trail. The area is known as Misty Fjords and yet I hit most of this area in cloudless, and hence misty-less conditions. Perfect albeit windy weather.

It is amazing how when you are out here, you just cannot help but push hard and in doing so, occasionally take off at the wrong time, or commit to going oh so far, only to have the weather turn along the way and realize, there are no time-outs, no do-overs, no stopping at times and waiting it out; that no, you have to finish what you started and get to where you were going. Oh, at times it would seem so easy to just say I can’t push on or I can’t keep going, its too rough out or the seas are beating me up too much or to keep going I will have to take it on the beam (waves hitting the side of the ship which rolls you a lot). But you can’t just stop where you are at, whether in a kayak, the dinghy, or the boat – you simply have to keep going, or you can flounder and struggle trying to stay where you were when the weather hit and let it finish you off.

This can even happen when you are up some trail and you have hiked for hours and the weather turns and you realize you are hours away from the boat and have to get back, down the mountain, and do it safely. You can’t just stop as darkness will be upon you all too soon. You can’t just find a place to hide it out. No. You have to dig deep on these occasions and keep moving, pace yourself and find the best way to keep forward progress, even if that means going farther out of your way to end up where you want to be.

But what is the point I am trying to make here…? What I am saying is until you have gotten yourself into a situation that you can’t just stop and give up, and if you dig deep enough to push on… you will end up where you belong. There are times you would love to say hold on, stop the weather and let me take a break, but the seas keep building and the remaining time to get to a safe harbor is now going to take that much longer and there is no rushing or shortcuts or anything you can do but grind it out. And in truth… I live for these moments though I honestly can’t say I ever try to put myself into them. To be here, in Alaska, they happen. And always will happen. That is why this is true wilderness and raw seas, raw land, and for all it’s beauty, why this area is so rugged and harsh.

If you know what it feels to get on the roller coaster as it goes clickaty clack clickaty clack up, up, and higher up until it reaches the summit, and at that point you are committed and there is no getting off or stopping or waiting to gather yourself, and then the long drop starts as you start to feel the pull of gravity, the G forces, and your stomach doing strange things, and you know until the end of the ride there is nothing to do but sit back and make the best of it, after all, you should enjoy it if you got on it because it is a thrill ride after all. Then here too there are times you need to make the best of what could surely be scary and find the beauty in all the raw energy beating against you and the boat, taking on the seas and come finally into a safe calm harbor… well, to me there are times there just isn’t anything better. You survived. You conquered. And you know the next time the most important thing one can know…

… you know your limits and each time you raise the bar and can handle that much more and finally, short of becoming cocky or surrounding yourself with a false sense of being industructable or bullet/bear proof, you gain confidence and experience that most may go through there entire life not knowing, just how much can YOU handle and just what is too much to bear.

I love knowing my limits and staying within my means. And I am thankful I know just how much I can take, and yes it helps knowing the boat can handle more than I ever will. I am safe. I read the weather well but if I should error and there is no turning back, and I must push on… then I know the best way for me to get safely into that final harbor, cove, or inlet to safety. Even if that means going out of my way, and crossing a strait or a sound and ending up somewhere I never intended to go and that on that day I will not end up where I thought I would lay my head for the night, I will find shelter and safety knowing that alone, I can handle this land, these seas, my doubts or fears, and rely on my abilities and my boat and get on through.

What have you learned about yourself as of late? May all here find the adventures to discover who they are, what they can handle, and how to come out in the end maybe a little bruised or tattered or torn, but more solidified in knowing just who you are. Good luck all, go learn more about YOU! Microsoft once had a saying that asked where do you want to go today. I say what are you prepared to grind out and get done today, for some days… you just have to dig deep, grind it out, and get on.

June 2010
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