August 10, 2005

In a trip marked by unique and extraordinary experiences, today stands out, for somehow we have managed to sail completely out of Alaska and into the tropics. Allow me to explain.

Last night I decided on an early departure, knowing that we must make a crossing of Chatham Strait, which is 13 miles wide at our projected course. After our hectic experience of the previous day, I didn’t want to get caught out in the middle in a freshening breeze, with the swell right on our beam. So I awoke at 5 am, and was underway by 5:20. Sunlight was just lighting up the rock walls of Red Bluff Inlet, the water calm, those pinks still jumping. In fact, they jumped non stop all night. Chatham looked to be in good shape when I reached the mouth of the inlet. Light northerly breeze, sea surface rippled. I headed out on a GPS waypoint course for Cornwallis Point, on the far side. A few miles out the breeze picked up a little, and a small swell rocked us slightly, but not enough to check our speed, which was the usual 6 knots. Just past half way, however, something unusual and strange occurred. Instead of accelerating, the wind started to die. Ahead I could see oil slick smooth water. The rising sun, which had been right in my face at the start of the crossing, climbed higher into a cloudless sky. We motored through breathless air, and the clothing layers started coming off. By the time we anchored in Honeydew Cove it was starting to feel hot. Clearly we were no longer in Alaska, but had somehow, out in the middle of Chatham Strait, entered into the tropical doldrums. By way of evidence, I cite the merciless sun, breathless air (which remained so the entire day), and squadrons of biting flies which compelled us to deploy our surround bug netting, which had specifically been made for use in the Everglades. We didn’t question this strange turn of events, but simply dressed for the weather and marveled at the day. Heck, maybe this actually is the real Alaska after all, and all that rain and gloom back in June and July was merely a figment of our imagination.

Honeydew Cove is a lovely, intimate place, actually more of a side channel protected by small islands and kelp beds. The land form here is very different than we have experienced on mountainous Baranoff Island, consisting of low limestone hills and tilted sedimentary layers forming reefs offshore. Rock and elements have combined to create features more at home in Utah than Alaska, including a pedestal rock and a large natural arch. We just sort of hung out here for the day. I went out fishing for a few hours and caught several black bass (released them all since we need a break from our fish diet right now). I also caught a headache from too much sun. I’m avoiding listening to NOAA weather radio, and I’ve stopped sneaking peaks at the barometer. Rather, I choose to believe that this tropical weather will simply continue for the rest of the trip.

Distance for the day: 23 nm; total for the trip: 1764 nm

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