Southing

Jupiter’s southing from Ketchikan began in a morning calm and ended in a near gale.  This was the first of sequent distance days with pre-dawn departures, in an effort to hasten south of Cape Caution’s weather-dependent geography.

Norwegian Jewel coming into Ketchikan on our departure at first light

Jupiter plowed many miles down channels, across Dixon Entrance, open to the wide Pacific, and into Prince Rupert, B.C.  We cleared Canadian Customs without incident and passed two days provisioning Canadian Style while appreciating the town’s fine restaurants.

This immense coast required prolonged transits totaling over 300 miles in sustained rain, fog, and squally winds generated by a deep, stubborn offshore low, the kind that preys on cruisers who linger too late in the seasonal wilds of Southeast Alaska.  Almost alone, only an occasional whale and porpoises in company, we managed a focused watch for vessels looming out of twilight or fog, and abundant timber easily obscured within worried waters.

Humpback whale breaching in Butedale Passage, Fraser Reach

Offshore weather gear was donned for quotidian rites of anchor and chain, windlass and witchcraft of securing the boat to fractious seabeds.

When running in the near-dark dim red lights illuminate the helm

Fortunately for Jupiter and crew the inside passages of northern B.C. frequently provided protection from the worst weather ravaging the Pacific headlands.  We made Shearwater Marina at Bella Bella our penultimate stop before rounding Cape Caution, and here we found a dozen cruising yachts also awaiting safer conditions to make the open passage.

Entire trees wash off the shore during high tides creating immense hazards

Tied to well-worn bull rails along a low-slung float, we were awakened after midnight by 35 knot wind gusts testing fenders and lines, convincingly arguing for a second day in port to allow the storm to abate.  And here we wait…

Pacific rollers breaking on nearly submerged rocks in Seaforth Channel

There is no aspect of boating that is less glamorous or more critical to the well-being of a boat and crew than anchoring.  It requires an inordinate amount of work, heavy gear, some hazard to crew, and it usually is a wet and dirty job.

–The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring by Earl R. Hinz, 2001

 

3 comments

  1. Stefanie Brouwer says:

    Magnificent photos Fiona. Admire your calm attitude in the face of inclement weather. We once sailed Lake Michigan in a gale. Hope all goes well (at least you’re not the alone!)

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