Still Harbor

Preparing to up anchor, Still Harabor
July 21, 2008

At anchor, Still Harbor, Baranof Island

N 56 degrees, 32.561 minutes

W 135 degrees, 01.008 minutes

Dear friends and family:

We're anchored tonight in Still Harbor, an inlet that is so far living up to its name. We're the only boat here, but a curious seal came over to investigate as we anchored, and we can hear the bald eagles cackling in the distance. It will probably rain tonight, but we expect to be snug and secure, with little wind in this "still" harbor.

This is to be contrasted with Kalinin Bay, where we anchored the nights of July 17 and 18. We had traveled south from Baker Cove on the 17th, thinking that we'd better get south into a protected harbor close to Sitka, because of some bad weather forecast for that night. Kalinin Bay looked like a good prospect. When we arrived there were 7 or 8 boats already anchored there, including a sailboat from Switzerland. No socializing could be done, though, because it was already raining. We put down the anchor, and hunkered down to an evening of Hornblower videos.

In the middle of the night (3:15 am to be precise) we heard the awful noise of the anchor dragging. It sounds just like you'd expect: chain being pulled through gravel. The wind generator had tripped out, and was whirling loudly and madly. That doesn't happen unless the wind is sustained at more than 25 knots. So we conducted a major fire drill, got the wind generator under control, pulled up the anchor, motored to a hopefully better spot (keeping watch for the one boat who seemed to have a one-watt anchor light), put down the anchor, and pulled hard on it (backing with the engine) to make sure it was well set. By this time (still before 4 am) it was starting to get light, so we could see the other boats. We set the anchor alarm and the depth alarm, and went back to bed.

The next day, it rained all day and blew like crazy. We did lots of projects -- Craig got out the sewing machine, repaired his watch band, made modifications to the gas can cover, and attached new straps to our Lifesling (overboard rescue equipment). I worked on "the web page" ( experiencing considerable frustration with Microsoft and computers in general, all with Ian's assistance, encouragement and tutoring. The view: Kalinin Bay
Craig's sewing projects Barbara's web design project
All afternoon Craig debated with himself as to whether a second anchor was needed, and finally we decided to be cautious. So out came the Fortress FX-85, a giant aluminum Danforth-type storm anchor, which is stowed unassembled in the bilge. Craig and Ian assembled it, then went out into the driving rain to put it down. This involved motoring the boat forward, toward the first anchor, and off to one side. The anchor, now connected to chain and rope rode (and to the boat!), was carefully lowered off the bow. I served as the cheering section, and prepared hot cider for the dripping crew. Assembling the FX-85 anchor

It continued to rain hard and blow hard all day and most of that night. Our instruments recorded a maximum wind gust of 42 knots. We slept well. The anchors held!

The next day we motored to Sitka, in sunshine and otherwise benign weather. We talked to several fishermen on the dock who told us that Kalinin Bay is the wrong place to anchor in heavy winds. Duh!

Sitka is an interesting city with a Russian heritage. Unfortunately, the cruise ships stop there, so there start to be some of the same jewelry and fur shops we saw in Ketchikan and Juneau. We visited the Sheldon Jackson museum, which is full of interesting artifacts collected mostly in the 19th century. Children's parkas made out of salmon skin! Elaborate fur clothing. Intricate baskets woven out of seemingly microscopic beach grass. The Sheldon Jackson college closed down its academic operations in 2007 -- apparently the victim of too much debt. This seems really sad - it was the oldest post-high-school educational institution in Alaska, succumbing to debt and inadequate support. The community of Sitka is holding its collective breath, to see what will happen to the library collections, the buildings, etc. The college had started and maintained a fish hatchery and salmon runs. It appears to be operating, soliciting financial help from the tourists off the cruise ships.

Craig, hauling the grocery cart down to the boat, plus, another use for a grocery cart... We did all our usual city things: a trip to buy groceries, another trip to the laundromat, and showers. This time, while the laundry processed, we had dinner in a McDonalds and made phone calls home. All very mundane, but necessary. We went with Ian over to the airport and sadly sent him home. He's been a delightful guest and we'll miss him.
The Sitka marina is full-full-full. When we arrived, we had to wait a couple of hours for a slip to free up. We took a slow tour of the Sitka waterfront. The workers at the fish processing dock looked to be straight out of a Rie Munoz painting. Ian took lots of pictures of float planes. We fueled up and then anchored for awhile. We were finally assigned a slip kitty-corner from a fish boat called "Sequoia." That's the first time we've seen a boat with the same name as ours. They were busily preparing to go out fishing, and were soon gone.

We left Sitka this morning, and sailed through beautiful rugged islands, saw lots of fishing boats, and Craig was inspired to do a bit of fishing. He caught a rockfish, which we'll have for dinner tomorrow10:15 p.m., Sitka Harbor -- the sun finally comes out! night (rockfish -- already very tasty -- is actually better after being refrigerated for 24 hours -- we're looking forward to that!)

That's about all the news from here.

Best wishes to all!

Craig & Barbara Johnston S/V Sequoia




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