Alaskan sailing adventur.., p.2
Alaskan Sailing Adventure, p.2Charles Kaluza & Philip Kaluza
Johnathan and Mikey were awake early because of the time change but chose to stay in their berths because even though it was summer it was cold. Their quiet time was disrupted by a high-pitched whistle which caused Kade to sit right up. Unfortunately, he forgot how little space there was between his bunk and the cabin ceiling. He hit his head hard enough that he just fell back down on his pillow. Captain Cook looked at him and asked, “Are you ok?” Kade nodded his reply and the Captain said, “Best you remember you are in a boat and not hit your head like that. The steel she is made of does not have much give.” He announced, “You landlubbers can’t just sleep all day if we are going to get out of these crowded waters and see anything. I’m cooking breakfast and it will be ready in 10 minutes.”
The boys dressed quickly but Quinn needed to comb his hair and Mikey was not happy with his shirt and needed to change. They sat at the small table and the Captain scooped out large bowls of oatmeal for the five of them. He added some of the powdered milk he had mixed up to his bowl and passed it on to the boys. Some brown sugar from the spice drawer and a little cinnamon topped it off nicely. There was only a little hesitation about the powdered milk but being hungry nobody was complaining. The water was boiling for the Captain’s coffee and he very carefully poured it over the coffee grounds in the funnel with a filter in it. When his cup was full he asked if anyone else wanted coffee. Quinn said he would like some so the Captain placed the funnel into another cup and poured more hot water over the used grounds. Only after the Captain finished his coffee did he start to discuss the plans for the day.
The tide was going out so if they pulled anchor the tide would help take them out of the cove. Hopefully there would be enough wind outside of the cove to fill their sails. He stood up and tapped the barometer and the needle held steady. “Should have another day or two before the weather sets in. Winds will probably be from the east again today. If we can get some fair winds our trip around the cape should not be too bad.”
Quinn asked, “What does that mean?”
The Captain reached for the tattered chart and pointed to Cape Resurrection. “The sea doesn’t like it when the rocks try to confine her and she always gets riled up. To get away from all these people we need to get to the other side of the cape. It tends to be a rough ride for a couple of hours.”
Quinn was already looking a little green just thinking about it. Captain Cook asked, “You get seasick?”
Quinn nodded his head. Captain Cook said, “Then you have to take the helm for that part. If you are driving, you will not get sick.” It seemed as much of a command not to get sick as anything.
Captain Cook left the chart on the table and said, “When you finish the dishes one of you needs to plot a course for today. I will check the engine just in case you screw up and we need it to get out of here.”
The dishes were cleaned up to camping standards, not mother standards, and Johnathan began working on the navigation problem. The other boys went topside and started working to prepare the sails. The wind indicator on the top of the mast showed a slight offshore breeze which should help them out of the cove. Captain Cook checked on Johnathan and said, “Looks like your course should keep us off the rocks. If it gets rough, we might tuck behind Cheval Island but it will cost us a fair bit of time.”
Mikey was given the task of manning the helm. Kade was to assist with the raising of the anchor and Quinn posted as lookout. Johnathan was given the job of flaking the chain as it dropped into the chain locker. The chain had to be allowed to spread out evenly so that it did not tangle. The main sail was raised and secured before the Captain activated the winch to raise the anchor. As the chain was slowly raised by the electric winch Captain Cook pointed out the paint marks that were every 50 feet on the chain. He explained how he wanted at least 3 feet of chain for every foot of depth so that the anchor would grab the bottom better. As the anchor was coming aboard it was covered with brownish seaweed and Kade was going to throw it overboard. The Captain said, "You might want to save the seaweed because it makes a really good evening snack when roasted." Kade did as he was told and put the seaweed in a bucket to be dealt with later. The gentle breeze began to turn the boat and steerage was restored as the sail filled. The gentle breeze and the tide moved them ever so slowly out of the cove.
Once they were in open water the fresher breeze fully filled the sail and the boat again heeled over slightly. Captain John was shouting orders to get the boat cleaned up. Johnathan told Mikey the heading he needed to take and then went forward to help raise the head sail and the staysail. The wind was gentle but almost straight abeam and they started making good headway to the South. Mikey was concerned because the depth finder was no longer showing the bottom. Captain Cook explained that they were now in over 1000 feet of water and the depth finder was not able to read such depth. Johnathan asked how it could be that deep when they were still so close to shore. Captain Cook replied, "These fjords were created when islands floated up from out in the Pacific and ground against the mainland. The space between the once moving islands is deep because that was the height of the islands underwater as they moved. You are seeing the effects of plate tectonics."
As they passed Fox Island they could see signs of civilization with tour boats clustered in the small harbor and other boats fishing near the island. Captain Cook was mumbling to himself about all the boats and wishing he and his crew were already around the cape.
When they cleared the far side of Fox Island there was a noticeable change in the sea. The ocean swells were now unfettered and the sea shanty was rolling and pitching in response. Captain Cook ordered Quinn to take the helm and kept the other boys busy adjusting sails. Quinn needed to concentrate on his steering to compensate for the constant sail changes and the rolling and pitching of the waves. He was working hard and didn't even realize that he wasn't seasick. Kade was not so fortunate and gave his breakfast back to the fish. Mikey and Johnathan were a bit queasy but kept their breakfast down. Looking forward at the horizon and swaying with the waves as advised by Captain Cook seemed to work. As they approached Cheval Island Captain Cook asked, "Do we want to continue on course or hide behind the island?"
Johnathan replied, "Deviating our course will add at least another hour to our journey. I vote we continue on course."
No one else responded so Captain Cook said, "Helmsman, continue on course. We may need to reef the sails as we round the cape." The Sea Shanty was now well heeled over and was slicing through the waves with spray drenching the deck. Inside the pilot house they were dry if not warm and it did seem as if they were flying through the water. Quinn reported that their speed was now 8 knots. Slow by power boat standards but about as fast as the Sea Shanty could go. Johnathan spotted the dolphins racing beside the boat and for 15 minutes they watched the dolphins play their version of “tag” in the bow wave of the boat. Kade wanted to go forward to the pulpit but the Captain said everyone had to stay in the cockpit because the seas were getting rougher as they approached the cape. Captain Cook asked what type of dolphins they were and the Johnathan went below to get his book.
Paging through the book the only dolphin that was black with white sides and belly was the Dall’s porpoise. He said, “It must not be a dolphin.” Johnathan was pointing to a picture and read the text.
Captain Cook said, “Good enough. Dolphins and porpoises are different critters but look a lot alike. Hopefully we will come across a pod of Pacific White Sided dolphins and they will put on an aerial display for us. They both like to play in the bow wave. It would be like hang gliding to them with the wave lifting and pushing them.”
There were seabirds everywhere now and the boys got their first look at the colorful puffins as they fought their way into the air. Kade said, “They really work hard to fly.”
Captain Cook asked, “How hard would it be to design an airplane that could dive under water and fly like a submarine?”
“Well, that is what the puffin does. Those stubby little wings allow it to fly underwater like a penguin but it still can fly to the top of the cliffs to rest and nest. As you said, an impossible task that they do several times a day.” The Captain then added, “See those rocks ahead and to the right with the waves crashing against them? That is Aialik Cape. The seas will subside as soon as we round the corner.”
Kade was doing better and was only a little sea sick. He said, “I bet that is a great place to fish when the ocean is calm.”
Captain Cook replied, “I expect you would win that bet. The churning water and merging of currents always concentrates food and fish. Tough to fish on a day like today.” They continued on course until they were well past the cape. Captain John was muttering to himself about the weather and had Mikey go below to check the barometer. Mikey tapped the barometer like the Captain had and the needle fell. He reported the change and the Captain mumbled some more before asking, “Did you reset the pointer?” Mikey answered by heading below to reset the pointer on the barometer. Captain John spread out the tattered chart and showed the boys the route he had been planning through Pete’s Pass. Then he stabbed the chart with his finger and said, “I think a squall is coming and might have high winds. Best we tuck into Aialik Bay and anchor in Phil’s Cove. No use getting you landlubbers sick.” He turned to Johnathan and said, “Navigator, plot us a course to Three Hole Bay.” He knew the boys’ appetite would be back as soon as they were in quiet water and said, “Pretty good fishing off the point. Maybe you can get lucky and catch a real halibut and keep us from starving.”
Johnathan gave Kade who was now at the helm the new course and as they came about the sails began to flop in the wind. Captain John began bellowing something about their incompetence was going to shred his sails. Quinn looked at the wind indicator and had the main pulled in and the head sail moved to the opposite side. They were now running wing on wing and the Captain called up, “Better use a line as a preventer so the boom does not come flying across and wrack on of you.” It took a while but they finally got the sails positioned and Captain Cook quit complaining. With the east wind, they were making good time even if their course wasn't perfectly straight and the sails occasionally fluttered. As they rounded the point into Three Hole Bay they lost their wind and just sort of coasted to the center of the bay. Captain John came topside and said, "There is pretty good fishing for rockfish here in the bay. You each get to keep two rockfish and I would suggest you do so. First you had better clean up the boat and get the sails stored." He looked over his shoulder at the black clouds approaching and added, "She's going to blow pretty good for a while and there'll be no fishing until it settles back down." With that he disappeared again down below.
Kade reported the depth finder was showing 30 fathoms or 180 feet. He said, "We’re going to need a fair amount of weight to get down to the bottom." Each of the boys hooked up their own gear using the skin from the fish Kade had caught for bait. Mikey insisted on using the heavy lead jig that his grandpa had given him. Johnathan was the first one with his line in the water and had no sooner touched the bottom when he yelled, "Fish on". It was a fishing frenzy for a while and every time their bait hit the bottom they had a fish strike. It took Mikey the longest time to land his two fish but he chose not to use bait but just a simple lead jig. He would hit bottom and raise the jig up about 4 feet before allowing it to fluttered down again to the bottom. He had lots of bites but most of the fish got off.
Captain Cook had arrived again on deck and shook his head when he saw the fish flopping on the deck. He said, "You are making my boat look like a slaughterhouse." He then started the engine and told them, "We’re going to have to motor to Phil's Cove. You have a half hour to get this aft deck cleaned up before we set up anchor." Just as the engine started to belch out its black smoke he added, "A couple of you will need to climb up the hillside and fill the cooler with snow so we can keep the fish for a couple of days."
The boys set up an assembly line for cleaning the fish. Johnathan bonked all the fish and then Quinn cut the fillets off and threw the carcasses overboard. Kade removed the bones and skinned the fillets. Mikey was in charge of packaging the fish in meal size portions. It looked like they had enough fish for about two days. It was Mikey's turn to cook and he took one bag below and cut the fillets into small pieces for frying. It was a lazy afternoon and they were just sitting around visiting when Captain Cook appeared handing them each a length of thin line saying, "No use you’re just sitting around. You need to be practicing your sailing knots." With that he went topside to watch for the weather. As they approached Phil's Cove he called everybody topside and had Quinn take the helm. The small bite (cove) at the south end of the bay was fairly deep and they would need to set the anchor fairly close to the shore. Captain Cook gave his instructions, "Take her in real slow. Kade and Johnathan, you stand as lookouts and give a shout if it looks like we’re going to hit something. Mikey, you come forward with me to help lower the anchor."
Quinn did as he was told and kept reducing the speed of the propeller with the hydraulic control. It seemed they were going to run aground before Captain Cook finally gave the order to turn the boat. Now Quinn watched the depth finder and when it read 20 fathoms or 120 feet he called out the depth. Captain Cook let the anchor down. It was Mikey's job to count the colors on the chain. When they had let out 150 feet Captain John told Quinn, "Start backing toward shore. You, lookouts, keep a sharp eye for rocks." The anchor set almost immediately but they seemed way too close to the rocky shore. When Captain Cook was happy that the anchor was secure he came aft and said, "It is a deep anchorage and a small bite but will be secure enough when the winds start to blow." He looked off at the approaching dark clouds and said, "Two of you boys, take the rubber raft to shore and tie it off on that stump clinging to the rock. You'll probably have to go halfway up the hill to find snow. Pack it firmly in the cooler and get back down here before the rain starts."
Quinn asked, "Should we use the outboard motor?"
"Hell no! You got arms and the two paddles should work fine for that short distance."
Mikey had been thinking about what he was going to cook and said, "Take a bucket and get some more of that good seaweed and some mussels if you can."
Quinn asked, "What are you going to make?"
Mikey replied, "I think I'm going to fry the fish and serve it with some boiled potatoes with a salad of the seaweed with fried mussels and vinegar and oil dressing."
Quinn said, "I think we should eat early because I'm already starving. I will stay here and help with the cooking while Kade and Johnathan get the snow."
Kade asked Johnathan, “Think we should tie up on the left side of the rock?”
Before Johnathan could answer came the call from the Captain, “I heard that. Guess Kade will be doing dishes tonight.”
The boys tightened their life jackets before climbing aboard the raft. It was a lot harder to paddle than they were expecting. With no rudder to stabilize the raft they had to coordinate their paddling. They tied the raft up as the Captain had ordered and clambered ashore over the slippery rocks. It was a steep climb up the hillside; not actually rock-climbing but close enough. They needed to get almost to the top before the snow was thick enough to make it worth harvesting. They decided to spend a few minutes and climb all the way to the top. The view was worth it because from the top they could see the ocean just a short distance away. They had spent the day sailing around the Cape and now they were just a couple hundred yards from a bay they had sailed past that morning. The black clouds seem to be getting awfully close so they hurried back down and packed the cooler full of snow. Going downhill was more difficult and at times it was easiest to just sit down an
When they got back to the raft they loaded the cooler and harvested a bunch of the seaweed and some mussels. They untied the raft and began paddling back to the Sea Shanty. There was now enough wind that they had to work hard to cover the short distance back to the boat. They unloaded the cooler and bucket onto the swim platform and climbed aboard. Captain Cook yelled from his berth, "You had better put two lines on the raft and make sure your knots are good. Pull it as far as you can onto the swim platform so it doesn't keep bumping up against the boat."
Mikey started frying the fish and boiling the potatoes as soon as Quinn reported the others were on their way back. Quinn helped by taking the mussels and cleaning the attachment off the shells before dropping them in boiling water. Johnathan was cleaning the seaweed and Mikey had him put it in the large bowl. He started adding some spices and a little vinegar and oil. Quinn could not resist tasting it and said, "Not bad. If you didn't know it was seaweed it would be good."
The smells of cooking reminded all the boys how hungry they were and they may have been complaining a little when Captain Cook yelled out from his quarters, "If you're hungry you could have made a snack out of the kelp you put in the bucket this morning."
The dinner was ready soon enough and they consumed enough food for 10 normal people. It was Kade's turn for dishes and with the normal ribbing of brothers they all chipped in and gave Kade some help. It was still early evening but the sky was getting dark from the approaching storm. The galley cleaned, the boys settled down for some cards. The rain was now pounding on the roof. But all were warm and dry. The Captain sat and continued to listen to the weather reports. They made a good call, all would be fine. He told the boys of a similar night many years prior when he had another group and was anchored in this very spot.
It was now very dark with the heavy overcast even for an Alaskan summer night. The 10-zillion lumen flashlight could only reach about 10 feet in the pouring rain. Winds picked up and swung the boat on its anchor. But all was good. As the boys played cards, the marine radio came to life. “Mayday Mayday.” A #$%^ Bayliner with one on board tried to make the crossing into Resurrection Bay. (Captain Cook referred to most small power boats as AFB's.) The Captain thought to himself “what was this guy thinking?”
The Coast Guard got on the radio and as we learned the Bayliner was dead-in-the-water and taking on water just to the south of Cheval Island. There was no thought of taking four boys around the Cape in the middle of a storm, they stayed put. Every word on the radio was heard.
The Coast Guard put out the standard assistance call. No one from Seward could make that run in less than 2-3 hours even if they were brave enough. But as fate would have it, or I'd say damn lucky, a research ship, the Alpha Helix, responded. 100 plus foot boat, they were heading into Seward to hide from the worst of the storm. They were ten minutes away from the boat in distress. You can't get any luckier.
The Research vessel found the Bayliner. The initial plan was to pull that dumb ##$&^ off his boat and make way for Seward. When after a bit of silence on the radio, a call came in from the Bayliner. He asked the Captain if there was any way to save his boat. More silence. The Captain called his first mate and simply asked if it was possible. The response was “If we could get a line on her, maybe make it to Agnes Cove. So, then began the adventure of getting close, but not too close in really bad seas. The line was secured. The tow begun.
The tow line broke. Lots of chatter on deck, all heard on channel 16. The 1st mate responded, we have a larger line, but the Bayliner was now full of water. They tried. Within seconds the 1st mate yelled on the radio, “Boat gone, man in the water.” The next response from the Captain was “What's next?” The 1st mate responded, “John is suited up and ready to jump.”
The ship radio chatter was steady, the Coast Guard as well. Now they needed the ship on the lee side of the two men in the water. There were screams of PORT PORT as the Captain tried to maneuver his ship in rough seas. Occasional silence, which was followed by the Captain, “Talk to me!”
Maybe after the longest stretch of silence the 1st Mate responded, “Both on deck, both fine.” One lucky guy, one Bayliner on the bottom of the ocean. From less than two miles away they had all witnessed a miracle.
As the night drew on the boys hit the sack, the winds picked up and the Captain stayed above. Sleeping bag draped over him. A vigil eye on the depth finder and GPS which were the only lights in the cockpit. They were only boat lengths ways from the rocks on shore as the boat swung on the hook. It was not going to be a restful night for the Captain.
As the night continued on, the small waves in Phil's Cove grew. The Captain could now hear them hitting the rocks not far away. The Flashlight was useless. But he knew he was close. Closer than he wanted. It was now low tide which meant more scope on the anchor, thus closer to shore. Much more of a potential problem for the boat, than the safety of the boys on board. But a problem none-the-less.
He called on the two oldest to get dressed. The Captain explained that they had a bit of a problem. They needed to pull in some anchor line which reduced his anchor strength, or reset the anchor in the pouring dark rain. Either choice required the Captain at the helm and the boys to do the job. Worst case would be to motor out into the bay and just drift till morning, taking turns standing watch. That not really being a bad option. The decision was made to reset with Kade and Johnathan hauling in the anchor in the pouring rain. When the Captain was happy he had, the boys lower the anchor again and could feel it grab the bottom. The wet boys joined him in the pilot house and watched the depth sounder and GPS to make sure the anchor was not dragging. Even the Captain now got a few hours of sleep as the boys took turns taking the watch. The rain and wind subsided by morning. Ocean still a little pissed off, but they should be able to continue their journey. The Captain let everyone sleep in a bit before sounding his whistle.
The boys did well today and managed to sail by themselves reasonably well. A bit of a problem with sea sickness rounding the cape but not bad. They fixed another good meal but haven’t learned to make sure they had plan-overs for lunch. They sure can eat.
Storm blew in and I told them of the rescue of a fool just on the other side of the cape. Had to reset the anchor at night and the boys did well. Had hoped to make it to Harris Bay but winds and weather thought otherwise. Good sail from Humpy Cove to Phil’s Cove.
Alaskan Sailing Adventure by Charles Kaluza & Philip Kaluza / Actions & Adventure have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on15 votes