2016 Summer cruise to Alaska. May 25, I’m in Campbell River, B.C. chatting on Twitter with Gill Kemp, compiler of the monthly Truckers’ Toilets UK and the woman behind the campaign to improve the health and well-being on lorry drivers. Here’s the May 2016 TTUK. Enjoy!
2015 Summer cruise to Alert Bay and the Broughtons. Fall cruise in the San Juans. Winter weekends in Seattle and Sunday day cruises.
2014 Summer cruise to Sitka Alaska. See blog for the full story. Fall cruise to the San Juans. Shipwrights’ Regatta in May. Several day sails and weekend visits to Seattle in the winter.
June 2013 – Alaska by Ferry and RV Cruise on S/V Aurora will be to the San Juans and up the BC Coast later this summer. In the meantime – partly thanks to Jack’s still recovering broken leg – we’re squeezing in our midsummer’s night dream trip. It deserves its own page.
April 2010 – Permanent Moorage in Port Townsend!
After nearly five years on the waiting list, Aurora has a permanent home in Port Townsend! Being moored at the Northwest’s most active and interesting boat yard means you learn lots just walking to the Safeway. But while we were in Olympia, we profited from the short commute and cruised every two or tree weeks all winter, mostly to Jarrell Cove, Longbranch, and McMicken Island.
But for the visit of Pierre and Terry we planned a sail to Seattle and as it happened, delivered the boat after dropping them – plus luggage with four seasons’ worth of gear – off in Seattle. (Again no problem finding moorage at Bell Harbor, though the harbormaster had us tie up at the Muckleshoot Tribal dock because it wasn’t fishing season and a Poulsbo group was coming in the next day. And we discovered you can indeed make reservations. Pierre of course went out to hunt down a couple of fine reds at Pike Place Market but now we’re back to our boxed wines.)
Valentine’s Day Update
As of February 14, 2011, Aurora’s new engine has completed 50 hours and passed its first check up with flying colors. And we have had lots of short cruises since she splashed back into the Salish Sea in mid-August. Our first cruise was a calm day passage across Juan de Fuca Strait when we discovered that suddenly Aurora can do 6 knots even when there is no wind. We probably could have even beat an ebb current through Cattle Pass had we not timed our entry into the San Juans with the flood. We pulled into Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island on a high tide, transferred to bike and scooter, and rolled several miles through farm fields. Finally we emerged onto the edge of the cliff where the Rippey clan was celebrating Helene’s 60th birthday. Several days later on the docks of Port Townsend we ran into Photo Finish, née Acquitted, our old boat, looking absolutely beautiful. Jan and Deny walked down the dock to visit and we were joined by Peter and Kelsey for a joyous chat.
Next we sailed to Bell Harbor in downtown Seattle and stocked more luxurious-than-usual provisions from Pike Place Market, just up the elevator from our dock. The next morning, Steve and Felicia showed up and we cast off for pretty little Blake Island, which is only accessible by boat. Even though it was August, we had no trouble finding a mooring buoy and dinghying in to explore the island. The next night we were at Longbranch on Filuchy Bay and then we pulled in at our berth at Swantown in Olympia.
Winter cruises have taken us twice to beautiful Jarrell Cove, where we love just to swing on a buoy, as well as to McMicken Island, which offers surprisingly good shelter in a storm, and back to Longbranch.
Update of August 1, 2010
Aurora is still on the hard and Jack does not like climbing that ladder so we’re in Portland. As soon as she can be dropped back into the water we can take off again. The only destination we have at the moment is Helene’s birthday gathering on Lopez Island. Portland has been fun, with all the festivals and lots of neighborhood stuff going on.
We have finally managed to finish the account of our trip. We hope you read it and tell us what you think, especially if it doesn’t make sense. The purpose of this blog is to encourage everybody to try sailing and so it includes the snafus, the ongoing maintenance and the most important lessons as we learn bit by bit. We try to use nautical terms correctly but sailors are welcome to put us right. When we come across something strange we look it up. This glossary of nautical terms is particularly rich, including with words we’ll never have to use.
Update of July 16, 2010
Aurora sailed into Port Townsend July 14 at noon, welcomed by a fleet of Native canoes arriving from Puget Sound in the middle of their week-long annual Celebration. When I find words for our own extraordinary journey they will appear on the blog.
Led by the tremendously experienced but very young Captain Peter Frost, we sailed non-stop from Sitka, Alaska to Washington, remaining about a hundred miles offshore most of the way. Three days of northwesterlies advanced us on our course 150 miles a day. On Day 7 Peter was at the helm fourteen hours straight, reaching 17.5 knots, the fastest he’s ever moved in a sailboat. (Forty feet of Valiant with Carol Hasse sails and free air are about as efficient as it gets.) Otherwise Jack and I alternated watches with Peter and Kelsey, with two 6 hour watches during the day followed by three four hour ones on our little patch of sea on the top of the world. Once in Juan de Fuca Strait, we sailed wing and wing straight through the night under the arch of the Milky Way.
Now we’re on the hard: Aurora’s been hauled out in PT so she’ll be ready for our August cruise to the San Juans and we’re in Portland dreaming of future voyages.
New Plans – July 4, 2010
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Okay, we’re starting over. Only the first bit of our 2010 planning stands. As we had most inconvenient transmission problems at the onset of the fishing season, when all the diesel mechanics in Alaska were busy with the working fleet, we took our time planning for our return south. As we thought out the options, we suddenly realized. Duh! We have a perfectly good offshore sailing ship!
Now we plan to leave Sitka July 7, sailing south on the open Pacific, rather than through the Inside Passage we took north last year. We’ll be in the good care of Captain Peter Frost and his partner at Pacific NW Expeditions, Kelsey Boesch. In addition to being a licensed captain, Peter is a wilderness first aider is a sailing instructor. He’s supplying the only things S/V Aurora currently lacks: the life raft/survival kit and survival suits.
We expect to be at sea somewhere between 8 and 15 days. If the weather cooperates, our first landfall will be on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Peter has charted a course on the 1000 fathom line, far enough out so that swells do not hit shelf, close enough to the coast that we can seek safe harbor. We will have only emergency communications so no opportunity to update this blog nor to check in with family and friends.
Tomorrow the weather promises gentle winds from the Northwest that will carry us southeast from Southeast (as the Alaskan Panhandle is known) toward our home waters of the Northwest.
We will stand one of two 6 hour watches between 8 am and 8 pm and then either 2 or 3 four-hour watches during the night. The boat is fueled, watered and provisioned and Jack and I are extremely excited about our voyage.
The quote at the top is lifted from the home page of Pacific NW Expeditions website. It says it all.
Despite the late start with planning, we’re firming things up. There’s still room for crew during the July’s meandering though the deep fjords in the midst of our continent’s (the world’s) largest temperate rainforest and the communities of First Nations people who live there.
2010 Cruise Itinerary (confirmed dates in bold)
May 14: Jack and Carol leave Bellingham WA at 6 pm on the Alaska State Ferry’s M/V Matanuska from Bellingham WA. We even managed to get berths so we won’t have to camp on deck. But it still sounds like a pyjama party!
May 17: Arrive Skagway 2:15 pm. Stay 2 nights at the Historic Skagway Inn, a historic brothel. Reservation #A104510KA. Inkeepers are Karl & Rosemary Klupar.
May 19: Leave Skagway on at 2:30 pm arriving Juneau about 9 pm. Check into Prospector Hotel, 375 Whittier St, Juneau, AK 99801 907-586-3737 firstname.lastname@example.org
May 21: Leave Juneau at 7 am on LeConte to Hoonah. Wake Aurora up from her winter slumber.
May 21-30: Hoonah. Get sails on, provision for cruise and learn to fish.
May 29: Selena and Brian ar Juneau 9:37 pm on Alaska flt#69
May 31: S & B arrive Hoonah 10:15 am on M/V LeConte; leaves Juneau at 7am. (We recommend visits to Mendenhall Glacier and Alaska State Museum on May 30 and to Icy Strait Point on afternoon of May 31.)
June 1: Sail toward Sitka.
June 6: Selena and Brian fly out of Sitka at 1:45 pm on Alaska flt#58 and Stewart arrives for cruise to Petersburg, Wrangell and the Misty Fjords Wilderness.
June 20-24: Ketchikan to drop off Stew.
Prince of Wales Island
Back to Ketchikan to fetch Jules Chourré?
Ketchikan – Dundas Island – Prince Rupert to clear Canadian customs.
Cross Hecate Strait to the Queen Charlotte Islands, or Hadia Gawaii (reverts back to the original name this year). Also served by Alaska Marine Highway ferry and North Pacific Seaplanes (at $258 and there needs to be 2 other passengers.)Return across Hecate Strait
Travel along and through the so-called “mainland”, Principe Channel or the Grenville Slog, Hartley Bay, home of the well-organized and prosperous Giga’at Nation, Native settlements at Bella Bella (Shearwater) and Klemtu, and Fitzhugh Sound.
o/a July 25: East coast of Vancouver Island and the Broughtons. Terri, Tom and Midori may come aboard in Campbell River or make plans to float plane to us at a predetermined location. Possibilities are Cortes Island or somewhere Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park, which has no land facilities. On Cortes, Gorge Harbour Marina Resort has ferry nearby at Whaletown and four guest rooms and Squirrel Cove we’ve never been to. Nor have we been to Refuge Cove, a tiny year round community with an interesting history.
August 6-12: At dock in Vancouver’s Coal Harbor. Steve and Felicia may visit or sail into or out of.
August 13-14: Southernmost Gulfs or Northernmost San Juans)
August 15: Lopez Island for Helene’s 60th birthday celebration.
August 16: Head for Port Townsend and/or Olympia.