August 6, 2005

Sitting on a rocky point, overlooking Hoonah Sound at sunset, Chinook securely riding at anchor in the calm waters of Nismeni Cove, a few hundred yards behind my perch. Hardly a breath of wind. Salmon jump out of the water and fall awkwardly back in, sounding like stones being tossed into a pond and looking like the cartoon images of jumping fish. Maybe the cartoons got it right. Midway in the channel, humpbacks blow. Their spouts are small at that distance, but backlit by the setting sun, they remind of clam squirts on a smooth beach. A pair move in closer, and the hollow sound of their spouting carries across the channel. It is so loud that you would think they are right in front of you, but the delay in the arrival of sound betrays the actual distance. Slowly the sunset develops, slipping between patchy layers of cloud.

This was travel day, after a most enjoyable 5 days in Sitka. Despite the mostly rainy weather, we enjoyed this attractive, historic Southeast Alaska city. As if to provide us with a cheerful farewell, the sun shone brightly in the morning. I took the surround panels down to dry, and lowered the bimini for the first time in a week. It felt great to sit in the open cockpit for a change. We took our time getting things ready to leave, and left our slip around 10 am. We backtracked north, through Whitestone Narrows and Neva Strait. Initially we had the current in our favor, however as we approached Kakul Narrows things changed significantly. We fought the current through these narrows, but that was just a hint of conditions in Sergius Narrows. The current there can run at 8 knots, and it must have been doing near that as we entered. I hadn’t bothered to figure out optimum times for traversing this place, and we paid the price. At one point I had the engine up to 4000 rpm and we were only doing 1.5 knots over ground. This suggests an opposing current of nearly 8 knots. The tide was near slack, so there must be a delay between current and tide. Fortunately, with the 50 hp outboard we were able to proceed contrary to current, and worked our way up into Peril Strait.

Shortly after clearing Sergius Narrows, a charter boat approached and passed us in the opposite direction. I waved as he charged by, and kept my attention on the water ahead. Sandy looked back and said “He’s turning around. It looks like he wants to talk with us.”

Then she recognized the occupants from the pictures I’d taken on yesterday’s fishing trip. Amazingly, it was Jeremy in his Reel Affairs charter boat, with Lee, Corrie and Jessie. They’d said they were going crabbing and shrimping today, but I didn’t know where they planned to go. Apparently, they had been keeping an eye out for us. We had a fun conversation when they pulled along side. Lee asked if we’d like some crab. That’s like asking a fish if he likes water. Corrie pitched a plastic bag with some freshly caught and cooked crab, which made for a very tasty dinner. I passed them our boat card, and we took pictures of each other. I expect we’ll be e’mailing them some of the pictures I took during the fishing trip. They’ll enjoy receiving them, I’m sure.

The weather has improved greatly, and the extended forecast sounds very encouraging for the next several days. We are looking forward to some sunny days for a change.

Distance for the day: 41 nm; total for the trip: 1673 nm

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