Sunday, November 25, 2007

part 2

The three guys were all out in the cockpit, tethered with safety harnesses. They stood one hour watches in rotation, being deluged with rain and ocean water. The boat would go up the 20' wave, struggling in the water, before it would pause and then surf down the back side. The motor labored hard as the helmsman tried to hold the wheel on course into the wind.

This went on and on without ceasing. Sixteen hours seemed an eternity. Finally, lack of rest, nourishment (2 crewmembers were seasick and held the bucket to use as needed when they were not on the wheel), the noise, and the total aloneness induced poor decisions.

The skipper decided to run with the wind, which meant turning off the engine and putting the stern into the wind. Under bare poles we made four knots! Two of the guys came inside to rest while the tape deck played Mozart. The calmness, without battling the seas, and the quiet without the engine's roar, made for a chance to sleep and refresh oneself.

To be continues...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gulf of Alaska storm

In 1990 my husband, myself, our nephew, and our friend headed out on the beginning of a major sailing adventure. We left Whittier Alaska on a rainy June day to head out into the Gulf of Alaska. Once you clear the islands of Prince William Sound you are on a lee shore. In other words, the wind and currents move toward the land. We had what we thought was an open window of good weather to make our crossing which ususally takes a few days.

The 3 guys were taking turns standing watch while I had the job of food preparation and navigation. In those days we did not have a GPS but rather a Loran which was not easy to use.

This is what I wrote about the trip:

It was a dark, rainy and windy morning in June when the storm hit our 40 ft Passport sailboat about 72 miles west of Cape Spencer, the western entrance to Icy Strait and the protected waters of southeast Alaska. The weather report had announced a small craft advisory, but in reality, the wind was blowing a full gale force.

I was off-watch, sleeping, when we started going up and down the waves. The motion became intense as my body went up and the bunk went down before reversing the process and crashing together. We had stored the sewing machine under the my bunk, and I thought for sure it was going to come up through the plywood and foam mattress, and I would sink into the chasm it created.

Soon green water was breaking over the bow--some managing to get into the anchor locker, and due to the huge volume, into the cabin. The bed was soaked. I did not want to move. I only wanted the slamming to stop. Cupboard doors were flying open and shut like hungry mouths as we rocked and rolled along. The contents were flying every which way. Books slid off shelves into scrambled piles. With the skipper's encouragement, I tried to put them back. They would not stay! The whole inside of the boat looked like someone had turned on a mixer - a real mess! Chaos!


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trying again

Well, I just tried to upload a picture from the F drive on this computer and had no luck. Seems to be a communication problem. :-( Oh, well, I will just continue without any pics.

As I mentioned before my husband, Dave, and I about umpteen years ago went on a winter sail from Whittier, Alaska to Valdez over Veterans Day. As you can imagine it was very cold and since we were in Alaska, the day light was only about 4-5 hours long. This does not give you much time for sailing in a 40' sailboat.
It was clear when we departed and a few hours later we were anchored up in a very quiet [who else would be out in below freezing weather?] and secluded bit. We had our diesel stove running full blast and it was warm and cozy inside. After a game or two or three of backgammon, we were snuggled under our comforter.
When we woke in the morning, it was very, very quiet. No wind, just lots of snow falling. The boat was thoroughly covered. We had to shovel the snow away so we could get to the anchor. We had a child's size snow shovel that worked well on the narrow deck.
At last we pulled the anchor and motored out of the bit into the passage for Valdez. It continued to snow. We took turns standing out in the snow steering the boat while the person inside kept gloves warmed to hand out to the person on deck. I am not sure now how many layers of clothes we had on in order to stay warm. Thankfully there was no wind so we did not have to deal with the wind chill factor.
It was dark as we approached Valdez Arm. The Coast Guard gave us a call as we came up on their radar. [They monitor the approaches in the Arm because of the tanker traffic]. We explained who we were and where we were heading. They warned us of some outgoing traffic. We let them know we were hugging the western shore so there shouldn't be any problem.
At long last we were tied up to the dock in Valdez. It felt good to be secure.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sailing 2

This is my second try at creating this blog. Hopefully it will take this time. I want to share some of my experiences when my husband and I went sailing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007