Seattle to Cordova
June 7 - 22, 2008
The year Dennis bought the wooden Grand Banks, there was too much work to do on it to enjoy it. When an opportunity came to accompany a friend bringing a sailboat from Seattle to Alaska, we couldn't pass it up. We'd been from Prince Rupert to Haines, but there was a lot of water south of that to explore.
Unfortunately, our friend was on vacation from work, so we had to make tracks. After a couple of days running around town and organizing the boat, we set off for Oak Harbor where we had dinner with friends, then headed north toward Bedwell Harbor for customs. From there, most days were 13 - 14 hours of running time, with overnight stops at some incredible places I'd love to have explored further, including Hornby Island, Rock Bay, and Bella Bella. It was an adventure and I was starved for adventure. Not only that, I had a iPod loaded with music and sermons that we traded to whoever was on watch. I LOVED watch and found that even in rough water, I could sit just outside the hatch and be perfectly comfortable! I was happy never to get seasick.
The weather reports were fearful, but time and again turned out to be completely wrong! Apparently, Canada doesn't have a small craft advisory. They go straight to gale warning. We spent time waiting out a predicted gale short of Johnstone Strait, which has a long reach and can be extremely rough. When we finally got true information from boaters, we learned it had been calm and sunny all day!
Once we got to Prince Rupert, we were in somewhat familiar territory. We relived in memory our first scary night headed to Dundas Island. We'd arrived there in almost pitch blackness the first time. In Ketchikan, we cleaned the boat and flew home so our friend could return to work. It wasn't for another few years, in a different boat but with the same friend, that we continued on from Ketchikan to Cordova.
November 2 - 19, 2010
On Sunday, October 31, 2010, we meet with friends after church and when I wasn't paying much attention, a plan was made to take Ron's new boat, a 41' Hershine, south to Mexico from San Diego for the winter. Everything came together so fast it was unbelievable and they were on the way in two days. I didn't go for various reasons, not the least being work, but four people did. It was a pleasant trip south, with following seas, gentle winds, and four friends to share watch. Except for the fact that they almost ran over a sleeping whale in the night and were boarded by the Mexican navy because they were too far out to sea, the trip would have been mostly uneventful.
August 24 - 31, 2011
In 2011, no one was available to accompany Ron on the voyage back north from Guaymas, Mexico to Alaska. This time, the winds off Baja were right on the bow as he clawed his way north through huge seas. One wave broke over the flying bridge. We prayed and anxiously looked forward to each SPOT report (GPS location report).
Against all odds, it seemed to us, Ron made it to Ketchikan from Mexico alone. Everyone was concerned about him crossing the Gulf of Alaska without someone to share watch. Just the words "Gulf of Alaska" struck fear into my heart. Our original plan for the wooden Grand Banks was to take it across the Gulf to southeast Alaska. We should have bought a boat already there as originally planned. This time, we had some time and flexibility. Ron's sister was so concerned about the crossing that she bought us plane tickets to Ketchikan. As we worked our way north through protected waters, we heard about a fearful storm raging in the Gulf, filling it completely with red on weather maps.
Whales breached all around us as we neared Elfin Cove, where we planned to wait for decent weather. As on the earlier trip from Seattle to Ketchikan, bad weather was predicted but didn't materialize. We crossed the Gulf on silky waters, arriving in Prince William Sound just before a storm hit. Someone must have been praying! Our last day, from Hinchinbrook Entrance to Cordova, was the worst wind of the entire trip, dicey even in protected water.
Go on to read Dipnetting for Salmon
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