July 2, 2005

3 pm and tucked into anchorage in Helm Bay, Behm Canal. Still looking for a full day without equipment malfunctions, since the stove failed to start for the morning coffee. Also, we’ve been dealt our first setback in planned destination due to weather, and for the first time on the trip, we’ve fallen a bit behind the itinerary. Trying not to be a slave to schedule, but I need to pay attention to timetable, or we’ll have to modify the planned route, so as to not have too far to go at the end, getting back.

Some patches of blue first thing this morning, at the Naha Bay anchorage, but we didn’t get too excited, since we tuned in NOAA weather, and all he could say was “rain” for the next several days. Also talk of afternoon wind. We took time for a walk up to Roosevelt Lagoon before getting underway. Lovely rainforest trail, with an interesting wooden pathway, set up for dragging boats around the tidal rapids.

We lifted anchor around 9 am, and headed for Knudsen Cove and fuel. Nice passage through some attractive islands, with increasing numbers of homes (some very large) and boat traffic. Started picking up some chop going down Clover Passage. Fuel dock at Knudsen Cove is very difficult to get in to, but we finally managed. Took on 24 gallons, with all tanks filled. Mileage since Ketchikan worked out to 7.8, our best so far, and reflecting slow pace, favorable currents, and sail out from time to time. Also bought ice and donuts, filled the water tank and dumped garbage. Pulled out around noon, and attempted to cross the mouth of Behm Canal and round Caamano Point, en route up Clarance Strait to Meyers Chuck, a convenient anchorage and goal for the day. Unfortunately, we experienced a steep 4 foot beam chop, which really rocked us badly. I was hoping that once we rounded Caamano Point our turn northward would allow us to cruise more comfortably, however the swell continued big and getting bigger, capping and starting to get very confused. I made a spur decision to about face and head back into Behm Canal, on the west side. A quick glance at the chart and cruise guide showed two anchorages within reasonable distance, Smugglers Cove and Helm Bay. The first didn’t work out, since it was oriented right in the direction of the swell. Helm Bay it was. We found the public mooring float filled with local power boats, so we anchored in the middle of the cove. Once anchored, we decided a nice cup of hot tea was in order. I turned the stove on, and it fired right up, but started making a funny sound (not good) and began giving off strong exhaust smells inside the cabin (even worse). I suspected I knew the source of these problems: the exhaust fitting is on the port side of the boat, the same side which was catching the brunt of the beam seas we caught while trying to round Caamano Point. Likely, there was water in the exhaust tube. I pulled it apart, and sure enough, I drained about a cup of sooty water from the tube. Once things got put back together, she ran fine.

We’re sitting comfortably, with a light rain outside, and the wind occasionally gusting and rattling the dodger on my salmon pole. We’ll stay here for the night, possibly watch a movie on the laptop, now that we’ve got lots of power, and hope for calm conditions early tomorrow. I’ll try to get an extra early start and make up some lost ground, perhaps making Frosty Bay, if we can make our way up Clarence Strait.

Turned in early and watched a movie on the laptop, but not before experiencing a serious setback. After using the tennis ball container, rigged with cord, to add a certain small quantity of warm yellowish fluid to the salt water, I carelessly allowed the cord to slip from my fingers. It quickly sank beyond reach. Since we try to use the tennis ball container instead of the head, to save capacity and reduce the frequency of emptying, this was particularly disturbing. We will have to improvise, and have been evaluating all sorts of plastic containers for the best alternative. Right now, my vote goes to the bleach bottle bailer from the dinghy.

Footnote on the stove: we tried it again after getting underway, and it fired right up. Todd said that stove is particularly sensitive to battery strength. Most of our failures have occurred first thing in the morning, when the battery is at its lowest. I may try starting the boat motor and then turning the stove on. I think that just might work.

Distance for the day: 27 nm; total for the trip: 909 nm

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