January 14th – Three Years Since Our Ticket to Ride Arrived!

It is so hard to believe that Ticket to Ride was unloaded from the container ship on January 14, 2019. Three years have already passed aboard this floating home of ours, and these years have held some significant surprises!

TTR lowered into the water in Long Beach, CA.

Thankfully, the surprises have come externally and not from within the performance or quality of this HH55 catamaran. Can you say Worldwide Pandemic?  

We continue to be thrilled with the design and construction of TTR and are extremely happy we were able to customize her to fit our needs. We could not have achieved these changes without the design help of marine architects Morrelli and Melvin or the willingness of HH to implement the adjustments.  It has also been gratifying to see some of those changes carried forward on the HH cats that have launched since ours. 

After three years on the water, Ticket to Ride has 20,000+ nautical miles under her keels. Our travels have not taken us where we expected, but we have been blessed with incredible experiences regardless of the changes in plans.

When we decided to move to a performance cat, we knew we would have to “step up” our sailing game and we wanted to push ourselves to a higher level rather than remain with the usual production boat standards. Learning to sail TTR was not difficult, thought it did take me a bit of time to become comfortable with the increased power she generates.

Most people want to know how fast TTR sails, which is a difficult question to answer since the conditions clearly dictate the answer. We can say that Ticket to Ride has recorded speeds in the upper 20 knot range when we had professional help on board and we were putting the boat through her paces. On our own, we have recorded speeds of a little over 23k when surfing down waves, and we often sail in the mid-teens; so clearly this boat can go even without the pros on board.  

Owning this performance catamaran is similar to owning a performance car in the city; we don’t push TTR to her abilities, but it’s nice to be able to “step on it” when necessary.

Frank loves passages making, but I prefer sailing in the daylight, so one thing I really like about TTR is that passages which would have been overnights or anchor up in the dark on our first sailboat are often day sails for Ticket to Ride. 

TTR sailing in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.

When making plans for a passage on TTR, we anticipate average speeds of 8.5k or about 200 nm days, but we often arrive more quickly than we anticipate. In fact, early days in Mexico, we had a couple of trips where we arrived during the night because we had sailed much faster than expected. We have had to learn to adjust our thinking and anticipate a faster than predicted arrival to insure we arrive in anchorages during daylight.

I asked Frank to name three things he really likes about TTR and they are:

  1. Performance/confidence: this is an obvious one. Simply put, Ticket to Ride is very solidly built and the components/gear are excellent. This leads to greater confidence in the boat which is a huge benefit.
  2. Upwind sailing performance: in reasonable wind, TTR is capable of sailing at about a 40 degree true wind angle which equates to about 27 degrees apparent. The dagger boards allow us to point well and we do not side slip. This means sailing upwind is both possible and usually pretty quick.
  3. Interior Lighting: this surprised me, but one thing Frank really likes is the lighting in our boat. HH was very generous with canned lighting and rope lighting inside the boat. Plus the lights can be dimmed/brightened depending on what look we want to achieve. Essential? No. But the lighting is a nice perk.
TTR anchored at Santa Cruz, CA.

If we have to think of things we miss about our Helia 44, Let It Be, Frank came up with two things:

  1. Indestructibility of mini-keels: although we would absolutely not trade our dagger boards for mini-keels, knowing we could easily allow Let It Be to come to rest on a sandy bottom to allow us to clean the hulls without damaging the mini-keels was a big convenience. And mimi-keels allowed us to anchor in very shallow water. That was a nice convenience, though not worth the sailing performance trade off.
  2. Ease of sail changes with one person: it is certainly possible to make sail changes with only one person on TTR, but it was easier to do so on Let It Be. While one person can make sail changes on Ticket to Ride, it is faster and easier to have two people involved on TTR, especially if the wind is piping up. Sailing TTR requires more attention than was required on our Fountaine Pajot.

This is an abbreviated list of things we like about Ticket to Ride. There is a longer comparison post here.

Los Gatos in the Sea of Cortez

So where has TTR traveled these last three years? We have sailed from California to Mexico three times with only one return trip from Mexico to California. Our second departure from Mexico, we sailed to the Hawaiian Islands because Covid-19 shut down our transit to French Polynesia. For 15 months we sailed in Hawaii and had the opportunity to explore the coast of nearly every island.  We spent only about 3 months in marinas while we were in Hawaii, the rest of the time we moved from island to island or anchorage to anchorage. Because of the coronavirus, Hawaii was in lockdown for most of our time there and as a result, we saw Hawaii with fewer people than it has had in decades. We were able to explore trails and tie to mooring balls in places we would not have seen in times open to tourism.

After waiting over a year to see if French Polynesian boarders would open, we acknowledged that we needed to make other plans. Thus we pointed our bows northeast and sailed to Alaska.

Ticket to Ride nosed into Sitka, Alaska on June 26th and we explored our way around the Inside Passage for more than two months before entering Canadian waters.

TTR looking tiny in Dundas Bay, AK

Fortunately Canada opened her boarders and we were able to make a few stops as we moved south toward Washington State. We only had a little over three weeks in Canada and we agree that returning to explore Canada and Alaska further would be a delightful addition to our itinerary someday.

While in Washington, we were a little pressed by weather to move south, away from the northerly weather systems, but we did manage to meet with a few cruising friends; Lynda Jo and Greg who we met on Union Island, St. Vincent/ Grenadines and Pam and Howard, whom we met in the Sea of Cortez. 

While in Washington, we had only a few days to visit the San Juan Islands, which is a shame because they are a fun cruising area. But again, that leaves us with more places we could enjoy visiting again.

From Washington State, we skipped straight down to San Francisco, then Long Beach and San Diego.

TTR in Max Cove, Prince of Wales Island

Our itinerary has been incredibly fortunate considering that the whole world has been dramatically altered since Covid-19 raised its ugly head. We were lucky to have an outdoor home that allowed us to explore when openings occurred but also kept us relatively untouched by the virus.

As for Ticket to Ride, covid or no covid, she has been great.  When we first discussed replacing  our Fountaine Pajot, Let It Be, we were looking for a larger, faster and more comfortable catamaran. We thought we would have to choose either speed or comfort, but this M&M designed HH catamaran has provided us with both. 

Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. Please leave questions or comments you have in the comments and we will do our best to answer them. If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our Facebook or Instagram pages.

Out of Order: Skipping Ahead In Time

Arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

Like most everyone in the world, we are very happy to have had the opportunity to see family and friends after a (temporary) calming of the covid-19 virus. Having been vaccinated, we felt comfortable traveling and visiting elderly and infant family members. This post covers some of those events which began in San Francisco.

TTR approaching the Golden Gate Bridge

Our arrival in SF was pretty monumental as we sailed under the Golden Gate bridge just after sunrise! 

Next up was the arrival of Hunter who would stay on TTR while he worked in the Bay area for a couple of weeks! How awesome that he could time his SF work with our being in town. 

Mary Grace, Hunter and Frank – because you have to have a pic with the GGB in the background!

Another fun aspect to our San Francisco visit was that the Navy, Marine and Coast Guard “Fleet Week” celebrations were beginning days after our arrival.

Blue Angels practically on our mast- so cool!

Our accidental timing made for fun days sharing the water with hundreds of other boats, watching flying demonstrations in the skies above our heads!

Amazing flight demonstrations overhead as many boats moved about below.

Imagine our surprise when friends we met in Tracy Arm, Alaska drove up to TTR while she was moored to the dock in Sausalito! Steve, Barbara and Matt from m/v Koda and m/v Sudden Inspiration, arrived in their dinghy  ~ they had seen us enter Sausalito and came over to visit.  I love how wakes cross unexpectedly in the cruising life!

Frank, Steve, Mary Grace, Matt and Barbara.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, our son, Clayton, was also traveling through San Francisco during the same time frame and he arrived a couple of weeks into our SF visit.  My heart was overflowing with gratitude that all of us could be together on Ticket to Ride!

Gidget, Hunter, Clayton and Biz chillin’ during the rainy San Francisco day.

In additional to lovely surprises, mother nature offered up her own event.  While Hunter, Clayton, friend Biz, and puppy Gidget were visiting in SF, we experienced a “bomb cyclone” combined with an “atmospheric river.” This was the first time I had heard the either of these terms!

The term bomb cyclone was first used in the 1940’s by meteorologists at the Bergen School of Meteorology. They coined the term to describe storms over the sea that grew very quickly.  A bomb cyclone is defined as a storm that rapidly intensifies and includes a pressure drop of at least 24 millibars over 24 hours.

Atmospheric rivers are sort of like ribbons in the atmosphere that carry water vapor. According to NOAA, these rivers are about 250 to 375 miles wide and can be more than 1,000 miles long. Apparently atmospheric rivers are fairly common in the Western US and just a few of these events a year cause up to half the annual precipitation on the West Coast.

49.8 k was the highest gust we recorded.

We experienced the combination of the bomb cyclone and atmospheric river in October while sitting in San Francisco Marina. Rain flooded the nearby streets and we saw consistent winds of 25+ knots and recorded a gust up to nearly 50 knots.  Scripps researchers recorded waves up to 60 feet high along the coast between California and Washington during this event. We experienced these winds and rain while tied up in a very protected marina. We were extremely thankful for a good location and a dry boat!

We took the opportunity to leave Ticket to Ride in Hunter’s capable hands and Frank and I flew to Annapolis for the Sailboat Show. We love to attend this show to see new boats and connect with friends. We had an absolute blast meeting up with fellow HH owners and seeing friends from former boat rallies or travels on the Atlantic side while living on Let It Be.  We even met up with Tommy, our Hawaii friend and crew member and Pearl, also a Hawaiian friend! We were able to see David and Amy of s/v Starry Horizons who had completed a world circumnavigations since our last meeting.

Melissa, Catherine, Mary Grace and Tyffanee enjoying some laughs at the boat show.

Once again, Kevin and Susan of s/v Radiance welcomed us into their home and allowed us to freeload with them while we were in Annapolis. I cannot think of two more welcoming or fun people!

There is always fun to be had when s/v Radiance is hosting.

Back in San Francisco, we prepared to sail to Long Beach where we returned to the dock in Alamitos Bay where TTR was first delivered in January of 2019. More reunions were had and a few future HH boat owners came to check out TTR. It was really great to see our Morrelli and Melvin friends once again! They were very complimentary of how well Ticket to Ride looks and performs after adding 20,000nm to her keels. 

Our stop in Alamitos was quick because we wanted to jump to San Diego where we would once again meet up with Clayton, Biz and Gidget. Plus we were leaving from San Diego to go to a family reunion for Frank’s family.

The family reunion was great! We shared laughter, memories, love and plenty of food! Special thanks to Emily who planned and purchased all of the food!

We enjoyed an excellent weekend with Frank’s family!

While traveling, I also had a quick (like 24 hour) visit with my brother, Jeff, and I was able to meet my grandniece for the first time!

Jeff with his granddaughter, Coco.

Back in San Diego, we spent a lot of time on projects. TTR had spent months in cold, humid climates with little TLC, so we took the opportunity to “de-Alaska” the boat. This meant specific things, like hand scrubbing all of the window blinds to remove any mold created by condensation, cleaning outdoor cushions where they could actually dry, cleaning and lubricating the mainsail track cars and routine maintenance like oil changes, cleaning/lubing winches and clutches, etc.

Mary Grace cleaning mainsail cars.

We also did some unusual things….. TTR’s boom had developed a squeak at the gooseneck and Frank and Clayton went to town removing the pin, then cleaning and greasing the connections. AND, that squeaky nuisance is gone! No more noise from the gooseneck as the boom pivots.

Thanksgiving was low key but delicious. Typical boaters, we had to improvise with the turkey – I forgot to get string to tie to turkey legs, so Clayton trussed it up with seizing wire! Between a former orthodontist and a mechanical engineer, we know wires!

Clayton using seizing wire to truss the turkey.

San Diego was a very busy time as we completed jobs, tried to purchase spares in advance of our departure to Mexico and met up with cruising friends we had met in Mexico and even one of my former tennis partners from Dallas. (Thank you, Cat, for making time to visit!) I continue to be amazed at how busy we remain even though we are retired. Definitely no time for boredom!

Family, waves, picnic and puppy make for a pretty perfect day.

Our time with Clayton, Biz and Gidget was limited by our focus on accomplishing what needed to be done, but we are truly thankful for the time we had with them.

Pictures of cute little Gidget – because you KNOW I’m going to include puppy pictures if I can!

If you have read this far, you know way more about our daily lives than you probably wish to know, but we appreciate your sticking with us.  I will revert to publishing our Alaska journals as that state truly stands out as a wonder among the many places we have traveled.

Dawn departure from San Diego on our way to Ensenada, MX

Wishing all of you a joyous, healthy and blessed 2022. We look forward to sharing our travels in Mexico and hopefully on to French Polynesia. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on Facebook or Instagram. All the best in 2022!

Alaskan Journal ~ July 12 through July 20, 2021

If you read our last Alaskan journal that covered only a week, you know that we saw stunning sights daily, which makes covering all of our activities difficult. Once again, this blog contains many photographs in an attempt to share the beauty of Alaska.

Amelia and Erik were on board with us until July 20th, when our friends Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance were scheduled to join us in Juneau. Once Shellie and Randy arrived, we would begin moving south toward Petersburg where Moondance would catch flights out of Alaska.

We wanted to make our way to Glacier Bay and see the park before returning to Juneau to pick up Randy and Shellie. So after sending Hunter on his way, we re-provisioned, refueled and topped up the propane tanks (our fuel for cooking on board TTR) so we were ready to leave early the next morning.

Just another beautiful scene as we traveled between Auke Bay, Juneau and Pleasant Bay.

We left Auke Bay early to make the 73 nm trip to Pleasant Island, across from Gustavia Peer, which is close to the Glacier Bay office. The first morning at Pleasant Island, Frank taxied to the Glacier Bay office and secured a park permit for us for July 15-21st. This meant we had a couple of days before entering the Bay.

Park passes are difficult to obtain because they are taken quickly and anyone visiting Glacier Bay must have a park pass before entering. While waiting for the office to open, Frank chatted up some residents and learned that many of the passes are taken by locals who visit the office directly. For this reason, it is difficult to get a pass on-line and we were fortunate to be able to obtain a pass in person at the office.

Amelia and Erik snagged this halibut while Frank was at the Glacier Bay office.

Of course we explored elsewhere while waiting for our Glacier Bay pass dates. We had heard a lot about Elfin Cove and wanted to see this tiny fishing town.

Approaching Elfin Cove in Day Tripper after anchoring TTR.

According to the 2010 US Census, Elfin Cove covers about 10 miles. The largest population in Elfin Cove was 65 people in the 1950’s but as of 2010 there were only 20 residents of Elfin Cove.

Walking the raised sidewalks of Elfin Cove.

Although small, Elfin Cove made a lasting impression. The homes line a waterway and are connected by raised sidewalks.

Frank, Amelia and Erik snacking on wild blueberries as we walked.

In addition to the wooden sidewalk, some areas of Elfin have rock and dirt paths that are right up against the wooded area. Someone in Elfin has a penchant for gnomes and placed them all along the paths. The gnomes were undertaking all sorts of activities and some were easily seen while others were tucked into hidden nooks.

We met a delightful woman named Deborah, who showed us around her family home and even shared some fresh greens straight from her vegetable garden.

Amelia is holding the greens Deborah gave us….1/2 were eaten before we returned to TTR!

These days there are several lodges in Elfin Cove and people visit to fish and explore nearby parks, like Glacier Bay.  We only spent an afternoon in Elfin Cove, but it was definitely fun to explore and take in the unique charm of this community.

Not sure I want to use the Elfin Cove version of a handicap ramp!

Anchoring outside Elfin Cove wasn’t ideal, so we motored over to Dundas Bay where we dropped anchor for the night. This was one of our first “private” anchorages and it was stunning. We stayed two nights in Dundas and relished the very calm water and serenity of the area. There were many otters so we didn’t bother putting out the crab pots.

TTR comfortably anchored in stunning Dundas Bay.

Frank, Amelia and Erik took a long dingy ride up the local river which is accessible only at high tide. They picked this pretty bouquet of wild flowers and brought it back to TTR.

Pretty Alaskan wild flowers for our table.

Long before we reached Alaska, we looked forward to exploring Glacier Bay to see the beauty we had heard so much about. It was definitely one of the places that drew us to Alaska, so it was fun to finally see TTR cross the charted entry to the bay.

TTR is the solid black boat icon about to cross the official Glacier Bay entrance.

Weeks after going our separate ways in Alaska, we met up with Katie and Kevin on board s/v Kālewa in Reid Inlet where we both anchored at the base of the glacier.

Kālewa and TTR anchored by Reid Glacier.

The water looks grayish here because there is so much silt in the water from the glacier runoff. But murky or not, we STILL polar plunged. We enjoyed a group polar plunge followed by a yummy dinner of halibut, salad and homemade blueberry pie.

Erik is the loon who swam around the boat!

The next day Kevin and Katie joined us on TTR to visit the Lamplugh Glacier. Both Lamplugh and Reid Glacier originate from the Brady Icefield. Reid glacier is “fully grounded” and measures approximately 3/4 mile wide, 150 feet high, and over 10 miles long. The area in front of Reid is extremely shallow from the sediment leaching from the glacier melt on both sides of the glacier.

By contrast, Lamplugh is 0.9 miles wide, 165 feet high at the face, and over 19 miles long. Like other areas, Lanplugh is suffering from climate change and estimates are that the glacier is receding 50 to 100 feet per year through calving.

TTR looks tiny in the grandeur of this setting.

Visiting Lamplugh was another unique day in our Alaskan exploration. The size of Lamplugh is hard to grasp until you are standing in front of it. There is a pool of water in front of Lamplugh that is separated from the main bay of water by a mudflat that has been created by the sediment flowing out of the glacier itself.

The arrow points to Amelia, Katie, Erik, Kevin and Frank standing near the glacier.

I stayed on TTR while Kevin, Katie, Amelia, Erik and Frank took the dinghy to shore to see the glacier. Frank flew the drone and captured some great photos which help show the immensity of Lamplugh. While visiting the glacier, we saw the glacier calf some big pieces of ice.

Spying on Kevin, Katie, Erik and Amelia from a hole in a huge ice block.

Later, Frank traded places with me so I could see Lamplugh up close. The pieces of ice that were resting on the silty shore were huge! Frank wished we all had paint guns as we could have had an epic game dodging and shooting between ice blocks.

Lamplugh Glacier stretches way back and that blue color is accurate.

We were so entranced by the glacier that Frank had to hail us on the VHF to remind us that the tide was rising and our dinghy would soon float off of the sand. We hightailed back to Day Tripper where Kevin had to wade into the water to bring her back to shallow water so we could board the dinghy and head back to Ticket to Ride.

After a day of exploring and watching the calving, Amelia and Frank still had not had enough of the Alaskan water, so they braved our coldest polar plunge to date….. Frank and Amelia jumped into 38.4 degree water while Erik, Kevin, Katie and I cheered them on…. And enjoyed staying dry!

Sunset at Reid Inlet, Glacier Bay.

The next morning we waved “aloha” to Kevin and Katie as they left Glacier Bay and we headed toward Marjerie Glacier, which is within Glacier Bay Park.

We had heard that Marjerie was actively calving so we thought we would stay on board Ticket to Ride to watch. But we quickly decided to find a small spot due south of the glacier to anchor TTR and launch Day Tripper for an up close experience.

Marjerie was very active and I managed to get some good calving footage on my camera, but the sound was not working and the calving is not nearly as impressive without sound. 😦 There is truly something mesmerizing about watching glaciers calf; hearing the sound echo outward from the ice and watch the wave created by the ice that slams into the water.

This gives you an idea of the breadth of Marjerie Glacier.

Marjerie is approximately 21 miles long and is defined as a tidewater glacier which means it interacts with ocean saltwater. This glacier does not move into the fjord because it rests on an underwater ledge, according to the National Park Service.

A closer image of Margerie shows her winding back and up between the mountains.

As I mentioned, watching the glaciers calf is mesmerizing and we spent several hours watching from the dinghy and later from an outcropping of land where beached the dinghy and found nice rocks to lean against while we watched the show.

A flock of birds hitching a ride on an ice patch.

That evening we dropped the hook in beautiful Shag Cove where we bumped into our friends on m/v Koda and m/v Sudden Inspiration. Seeing them was a very fun surprise. We shared evening cocktails and enjoyed Steve’s house specialty – Manhattans. We had no prior experience with Manhattans, but we will volunteer to drink Steve’s version any time he offers! We spent a lovely evening comparing our Alaskan experiences.

TTR with Sudden Inspiration and Koda deeper in the cove.

Shag Cove was so beautiful that we decided to stay and extra night. We enjoyed jigging for halibut, paddling on the stand up paddle boards and staying in one place.

Amelia sporting the fashion forward Alaska SUP attire – Xtratuf boots required.

You may notice that there are patches of snow on the hillsides. The four of us took the opportunity to climb up to the snow and I made my first snow angel in very many years! There may have been a snowball fight involved too.

Ticket to Ride facing the entrance to Shag Cove.
Purple skies and waters this night in Shag Cove.

After two nights at Shag Cove, we moved to Swanson Harbor for the night so we would have a quick trip into Auke Bay where we would pick up Randy and Shellie and Erik and Amelia would leave TTR. It is a testament to Amelia and Erik that, although we had lived together for six weeks, we were sad to see them leave! We are very grateful for the time we spent together and appreciate the myriad of contributions they made on our passage and throughout Alaska!

Shellie and Randy arrived, and as experienced cruisers, they packed lightly and were quickly settled into their room on TTR. Of course we kicked off their visit with a dock party! s/v Kālewa was on the dock, so Katie and Kevin, Amelia and Erik, Randy and Shellie and Frank and I shared a spur of the moment combo lobster boil and burger bash. The eight of us had a great time reconnecting; sharing food and libations as we discussed our itineraries.

Then we fell into bed as Ticket to Ride would be off again the next day, this time with Shellie and Randy sharing our adventures.

Polar Plunge Report:

Pleasant Island 56°

Dundas Bay 52° and 53°

Reid Inlet 43° and 38.4°

Shag Cove 51° and 53°

Swanson Harbor 63°

Phew, this was another long blog. Hopefully the photos and tidbits of information are enough to make it interesting. For us, it is fun to have a journal of our trek through Alaska. As always, we appreciate you stopping to read our blog. If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit us on Facebook or Instagram.

Blog Delayed ~ Technical Ignorance to Blame

Blogging has been a slog lately because I was using a ridiculous process to prepare photos for our blog. I was using one program to edit photos, another program to add a watermark and a third program to resize the pictures before uploading them to our blog. IF I could find enough wifi to actually upload the prepared photos.

All of these hoops were jumped in an attempt to make the pictures load more quickly on our website when I upload photos and when someone visits our blog.

Fortunately, my son Clayton, saw my editing process and informed me that I was wasting a lot of time and effort. Clayton has introduced me to the Lightroom Classic program which allows me to perform all of the above mentioned edits in one place. Plus, the watermark and resizing features can be handled on multiple photos instead of one picture at a time.

OHHHH, a way to reduce the painfully slow process of preparing pictures!

I am just in the first days of learning Lightroom, but I hope to be back to blogging very soon. I am pretty excited about learning shortcuts since I use our blog as a place to record our experiences and for a little creative outlet for myself.

It feels kind of great to be looking forward to blogging again instead of dreading the photo process!

Anyway, here is one little sunset picture from Canada….. I look forward to sharing our adventures again soon!

Sunset at Hawk Bay, Canada.

Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. We look forward to sharing the remainder of our exploration of Alaska and Canada as well as our future plans. If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit us on Facebook or Instagram.

Beautiful anchorages of Alaska, the drone’s view

The crew on TTR put the anchor down in 42 different anchorages in Alaska alone. As the drone pilot and photographer, I realize that I missed some and maybe some of the very best. All of us know how hard or maybe impossible it is to capture the full beauty of a landscape or nature in general; however, I hope you will enjoy this collection of TTR’s anchorages that I did manage to capture with our Mavic Mini.

Yes Bay on a clear day. Amazing reflection of the sky on the water.
Yes Bay, the solitude invites exploration and smooth water paddling.
Walker Cove in Misty Fjords National Monument. The views over a morning coffee are indescribable.
Walker Cove in Misty Fjords NM. We were joined on our paddleboard trip up this river by 1000’s of salmon.
Takatz Bay. The sounds of waterfalls entered both ears
Takatz Bay, looking from above the waterfall.
Iconic Punchbowl Cove in Misty Fjords National Monument. Yosemite on the water.
Punchbowl Cove. A National Forest Service Trail followed this stream to Punchbowl Lake, a highlight of our trip.
Max Cove looking towards the entrance.
Max Cove at high tide. Max Cove was the site of one of our best bear encounters. The water surface in the foreground was completely dry at low tide.
Lamplaugh Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. For perspective of size, 4 of the day’s crew are standing by the edge of the water in the black circle. Please, scroll in.
Glacier Bay near Lamplaugh Glacier. The land in the foreground forms the beautiful pool in front of the glacier seen in the previous photo.
Dundas Bay at high tide. Anything below the water seen in this photo will be dry at low tide.
Stunning backdrop in Gut Bay, Baranoff Island. Incredible collection of textures, colors and surfaces.
Gut Bay, TTR was alone in 9 out of 10 anchorages.
Winter Cove, anchored in 80 feet of water. One of TTR’s few anchorages suitable for only one boat.
DeGroff Bay, the 75 foot wide entrance channel opened to this beautiful anchorage. TTR’s beam is 27 feet.
Judd Bay with Mary Grace on a paddleboard. Paddleboarding was a regular part of our day.
Magoun Bay, our first anchorage in Alaska. Somehow we knew we were in for a stunning 8 weeks.

On TTR we log our daily travels in an Excel File. We are happy to share our Alaska log file with any reader who wants a more complete list and description of TTR’s Alaska anchorages. Maybe you are planning your own adventure to Alaska.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. If you think one of these anchorages is your favorite, we would like to know which one! Or perhaps you have been to some of these anchorages? Let us know in the comments. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on Instagram or Facebook.

Alaskan Journal July 4 – 11. An Epic, Hectic Week

This blog is photo intensive because we saw so many amazing things during this week. Perhaps the most amazing week of our Alaskan tour! Also, if you remember Amelia’s blog about Alaska’s Timeless Waterways, these pictures may give you insight into where she found her inspiration.

Just two days after Tommy flew out from Sitka, our eldest son, Hunter, flew in for a visit. Once again we wanted to cover a lot of territory so Hunter could see a bit of Alaska quickly. We had an incredible time and were able to discover a variety of Alaskan landscapes. Rather than bore you with details of our time, I will attempt to share many pictures and try to give you small descriptions of our days.

Enjoying the sunshine and catching up makes for great father/son time.

We left Sitka early to conquer a long 78 nm passage to Killinoo Harbor, but the day was filled with pretty scenery and plenty of time to catch up with Hunter as we motored. We had two surprises as we covered ground. The first was an opportunity to actually SAIL for a bit as we crossed the Chatham Strait. Although we only raised our head sail, it felt great to see TTR under wind power again for a little bit. 

We saw plenty of this while in Hawaii

The second bit of luck was seeing whales feeding!! While in Hawaii, the whales do not eat so we never saw those epic scenes of whales surfacing with their mouths wide open. But the very first day Hunter was with us, the whales decided to show us how it was done. SO COOL:

We never saw whales feeding while we were in Hawaii.
It was very interesting to see and hear this whale feeding.
Close the hatch, then disappear beneath the surface!

We went to Killinoo Harbor to meet some people Erik knew from Hawaii. This family spends time in Hawaii and in Alaska and they were kind enough to show us the very functional and comfortable cabin they built on a remote part of a remote Alaskan island.

One little section of the trail to the cabin – I KNOW there are fairies hiding somewhere!

Following a magical tramp through the woods to reach their cabin, we took dinghies to a spit nearby and had a beach BBQ dinner of fresh halibut, salmon and crab! Welcome to Alaska, Hunter, where the sea provides an amazing bounty!

Just a small tidbit of information about Dungeness crabs; in Alaska we can only harvest male crabs that are 6.5” or larger. I had no idea how to tell the difference and maybe you don’t either, so below are photos of the underside of a male and female crab. Once you know what to look for, it is very easy to tell the difference between them.

The next day was pretty much a sunrise start with plenty on the agenda beginning with seeking out waterfalls along our path. Here is a picture of the most casual waterfall I have ever encountered. 🙂

I tried to imitate the very casual attitude of this waterfall.

Our first stop of the day was Warm Bath Springs. Natural warm springs creating pools of clear hot water in a climate much colder than we are accustomed to are not to be missed! Hunter, Amelia, Erik, Frank and I spent hours soaking in the hot springs. There was a raging river cascading just outside of the hot pools, so we would alternate between soaking in the hot water until our skin tingled with quick, breathtaking dips into the icy river pools formed in the rocky sides.

After turning into hot springs prunes, we hiked to a nearby lake and waded into the perfectly clear water…. guess Polar Plunges are sneaking into our daytime adventures too!

The sound of the rushing water added to the beauty of the hot springs.

Red Bluff Bay, our anchorage that night after the hot springs, was the only place we stayed for two nights during Hunter’s visit. Initially we shared this popular spot with four boats but when we left there were 10 power boats sharing the anchorage. That is the most boats we have seen in any anchorages in Alaska.

The crowd must not disturb the crab population because we caught four Dungeness crabs in Red Bluff. Since we had already eaten a good bit of crab, we decided to give them to a neighboring boat. I think we might have been their favorite boat after that.

Wild, hand picked blueberries make for a delicious homemade pie when Erik is on TTR.

Gambier Bay was riddled with crab pots, so Erik and Frank thought they would score at least one crab, but we were skunked. Not a single crab to show for their efforts. We did find plenty of wild blueberries which Erik transformed into a delicious pie. 

An pretty standard Alaska Forest Service cabin.

FUN ALASKAN FACTS: Throughout the Tongass National Forest, the Forest Service has built cabins available for use on a first come, first serve basis. The cabins are sturdy and basic, but provide excellent refuge for travelers. There are more than 160 Forest Service Cabins in the Tongass National Forest! That is a great use of our national parks dollars!

However, for perspective, the Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the US. Originally named the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve, this public land was created in 1902 under Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, by presidential proclamation, Roosevelt renamed the area the Tongass National Forest and in 1908 two forests were combined to enlarge the Tongass.  Finally in 1925 under Calvin Coolidge, the Tongass was expanded again to create the Tongass National Forest we have today.  All together the Tongass National Forest encompasses 17 million acres!

Amelia put her writing talent to work and wrote a story for our cabin sign in book entry…. you have to visit to read it!

In Gamier Bay we walked to one of the forest service cabins in the early evening. We built a campfire (why do most men love to build fires?), enjoyed toddies and ate s’mores as we exchanged stories and sang old songs. Frank and I won the oldest songs awards when we pulled out, “Little Rabbit FooFoo.” Who remembers that camp song?? 

TTR anchored in the misty weather in Gambier Bay.

Perhaps the most epic day of Hunter’s visit was our trip up Tracy Arm to the South Sawyer Glacier. Navigating up the passage, dodging floating ice while distracted by the amazing sights was a challenge. And well worth the effort!

The early portion of Tracy Arm was beautiful and there weren’t too many ice fragments.

We set up a schedule where we alternated helmsmen and bow watchers every 10 minutes because it was very cold and pretty demanding. The weather alternated between fog, mist, rain and clear skies, which only added to the drama of the scenery.

Of all the places we have visited so far, this area stands out as the most unique in its beauty and grandeur. 

One of many waterfalls as we motored through Tracy Arm.

We were so enamored of our first glacier that after motoring back to Entrance Cove and anchoring TTR, we went out in the dinghy and lassoed one floating chunk of iceberg and tried to take it back to Ticket to Ride with us. However, sanity returned and we dropped “our iceberg” for fear it would float around the anchorage and damage a boat or two.

Doesn’t everyone secretly wish for his own little iceberg?

We did corral a few reasonable sized pieces of glacier which became our beverage cubes of choice.

That evening we anchored in Entrance Cove and met the folks on m/v Koda and m/v Sudden Inspiration. A guest on Sudden Inspiration shared several drone photos and this video he took of TTR while we were near the glacier. How awesome is that?!

Thank you to MV Sudden Inspiration for this great video of TTR at Tracy Arm Glacier.

We took over a bottle of wine and a few other items as thanks for the awesome video of Ticket to Ride. We also invited all on board Koda and Sudden Inspiration to join us in our daily Polar Plunge. Most thought we were nuts, but Barb and Liz changed into swim suits and joined us for a very chilly, but laughter filled PP. 

Early the next morning we were up again and headed to Taku Harbor which is the site of an old cannery. We spent another excellent day exploring on shore and chatting with the folks who bought the old cannery workers housing lodge. The history of the lodge was interesting and the new owners were super nice.

This old cannery seemed to call for a black and white photo.

Parts of Taku Harbor were easy to walk but at other times we were bushwhacking through undergrowth to find a trail. Taku was a fun mix of old ruins, old forest and new friends.

After Taku Harbor we dashed to Auke Bay in Juneau because Hunter had a flight out the next day. WOW, it was an amazing week with stellar sights and so many laughs. We had so many silly adventures, including assembling a Crystal Garden…. which is one of those stories that probably is only funny to the people involved. But I will show you two pictures:

Looking back at the pictures from the seven days Hunter was on board TTR, there are so many amazing photos I could share with you, but alas, this is already so long, I will refrain. I hope you have a tiny glimpse of just how remarkably pretty this part of Alaska is!

Polar Plunge Report: the daily plunge tradition continues!

Killinoo Harbor 54°F

Red Bluff 51°

Red BLuff 54°

Gambier 51°

Tracy Arm 54°

Thank you so much for stopping by to read our blog. This was a really long post because we packed a lot into one week. We hope to have more routine WIFI as we work our way back into the U.S. and hopefully we can share posts more routinely. If you want to hear from us more often, please follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

Traversing Alaska’s Timeless Waterways

Written by Amelia Marjory

When a talented writer spins words that allow readers to imagine the scenes she experienced while traveling on your boat, you grab the opportunity to share them. Because Amelia’s writing is so visually rich, it is more fun to publish it without pictures so you can create your own images as you read. In the next blog, I will share photos taken during the time frame described here. Amelia is a freelance writer who writes copy for a variety of clients that range from craft coffees to stunning swimwear. Should you find yourself in need of written copy, contact Amelia at ameliamarjory@gmail.com. And if you know a vintner, I know Amelia would love to craft a label description for them.

Frank, Amelia and Mary Grace on one of many Alaskan hikes.

Within a few days my ears were tuned to the wind-raked docks of Sitka. Flapping flags, whirling wind generators and clanking halyards warbled in the breeze. Lapping wavelets strummed upon barnacle-coated hulls. Groaning trawlers trembled through boot and bone. Meanwhile, gruff sea lion snorts and boisterous boat horns spontaneously sounded out of turn. It was a metallic cacophony and a romantic chorus in one. As we casted off, I leaned in for one last listen to the symphony of stories. For, the nostalgic whispers of Sitka’s historic harbor would soon be a fading pulse in our wake.

Our plotted course meandered through straights and narrows and time-worn passages of Alaska’s coastal waterways. Before us, a glassy path of sapphire seas surged along emerald shorelines. As the tide ebbed, we motored against the outgoing current, creating whirlpools and eddies to spiral off the outboards. Despite the engine’s rumble, a newfound silence surrounded us, the stark carbon fiber mast slicing through air as still as stone. 

From my seat at the helm, I caught myself holding my breath, for fear of tainting the pristine cathedral I had stumbled upon. Steep valley walls soared into the sky and serrated ridges spilled onto marbled granite slates. Layer after layer, the folds of geologic secrets slowly revealed themselves. Within this new arena, Alaska’s grandeur seemed to consume all sound. Even the piercing trill of Bald Eagles from their spruce-top perches was slightly muffled by her majesty. 

After two hours of motoring through the calm narrows, we arrived at the broad outlet to Chatham Straight. As we crept around the protective edges of the mouth, we were met by an unbridled breeze swirling around a mountainous bowl filled with salty snowmelt. The welcomed wind cast away the clouds, unveiled the sun, and inspired a spontaneous sail. 

With all hands on deck, we set the lines, unfurled the reacher, and killed the engines. Jackets and sweaters and shoes came off. Sunglasses were donned. And we all converged on the foredeck to properly soak up the sun, silence and serenity afforded by the unique opportunity to sail Alaska’s Inside Passage. 

From there, it just kept getting better. 

Humpback whales bubble feeding 100 yards off the beam; enchanted forest trails to moss carpeted fairylands; fresh caught Dungeness Crab, Halibut, and Rockfish; spontaneous beach bonfires with smoked salmon and friends, silver and gold; steaming hot springs next to raging waterfalls; grizzlies grazing upon wild blueberries; homemade blueberry pies made from the berries left behind; porpoise, sea lion, seal, otter, and orca encounters; wildflower foraging and crystal garden configuring; fouly-clad iceberg watches all the way up an ancient granite arm to the heart of earth’s memories frozen in glacial form… 

Jam-packed, adventure-filled, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring days joyfully punctuated by our daily cocktail hour polar plunge melted into each other thanks to a sun that never set. 

It’s been just over two weeks since our landfall in Sitka, Alaska— the blink of an eye to a landscape composed by the last ice age. And, it’s been just over four weeks since we raised anchor in Hanalei Bay, Hawaii— setting sail upon a seascape comprised of liquid crystals that have cycled the planet since the beginning of time. 

The songs sung and the stories told within this ancient amphitheater speak to a great remembering. It starts with our own history, that of humans and hardships and forging life on the last frontiers. Then it draws us back, further into the tapestries of terrains before two-footed trails were paved. And furthermore, to when water swathed the planet and single-celled organisms were yet to breach the surface. 

As we continue to make our way north, towards Glacier Bay and whatever discoveries she beholds, I’m constantly tuning in to the soft shifts in tone, in temperature, in tides. Each subtle nuance tells a secret, adding a line to the story of natural law. And with the opportunity to slow down, to cruise the currents, to synchronize with the rhythms of my environment, the silent revelations of her song seem louder than ever. 

Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. I hope you enjoyed Amelia’s writing as much as I have. Our time in Alaska is coming to a close so we will point our bows toward Canada in the next day or two. Weather will drive our schedule through Canada as we want to head down the west coast and arrive in California before the northerly weather systems become strong. Hopefully we will have better communications as we travel, so if you want to hear from us more often, please visit us on Facebook or Instagram. Wishing you well from TTR.

Alaskan Photo Journal ~ June 26- July 2

After tying up to the dock in Sitka we grabbed the Prosecco for a celebratory cork popping that was a bit anti-climatic as you can see in the video.

A funny, fizzled cork popping!

Although the Prosecco was less than effervescent, we were all in high spirits and immediately took a stroll through Sitka. We were anxious to stretch our legs, see the town, and find a spot to eat, drink and celebrate. French fries seemed to be tops on the list for several of us.

One interesting thing about being on passage is the lack of news. Sailing along in Ticket to Ride, we have virtually no news, unless a friend or family member contacts us. Of course we receive and study the weather, but that is the only real time information we seek. As a result, when we arrived in Sitka, we had had no news for almost two weeks.

This was newsworthy as Hawaii was still under mask mandates when we left.

As is usually the case, there were few news bites that had changed and we had missed very little without hearing the 24 hour news cycles. As we strolled the streets of Sitka, we did encounter one sign that we never saw in Hawaii.

Downtown Sitka is charming.

The main street of Sitka was clean and inviting with plenty of windows to browse and bars or restaurants to try. We saw some rather unique apparel including this gem in the window of a fur company!

The latest fury swimwear?

We were surprised by the warm weather and clear skies that welcomed us to Alaska. Exploring the town we shed our jackets and adopted a leisurely pace as we took in the influence of early Russians who settled Sitka during the heyday of fur trading. Sitka was the capital of Alaska until 1906.

The lushness of this country was unexpected and magical. Everywhere we saw flowers both wild and in hanging baskets or window boxes. Especially after days on end of blue water, the foliage was vibrant and captivating.

Lillypads and vivid greenery line this stream fed pond at the edge of town.

Erik, Tommy, Amelia, Frank and I enjoyed a protracted dinner overlooking the local library and a marina. We relished sitting still and having someone else do the cooking and the dishes. Even on a great passage, one is always looking and listening for changes in wind or sounds and this was the first time in many days we could simply sit and not be monitoring the elements around us, except in an appreciative way.

The following day, our first full one in Alaska, Erik chose to hang out with Katie and Kevin of s/v Kālewa to further explore Sitka and determine which establishments were the most fun and had the best beverages. Tommy decided he needed to catch up with family and friends after being without cell and internet during the passage. Frank, Amelia and I were in search of a hike to see the fauna up close.

We chose the hike to Beaver Lake

The hike we chose was seven miles from town so we stuck out our thumbs and hitch-hiked our way. Within one minute we were picked up by a park ranger who gave us information about the hike we had chosen which turned out to be one of the most amazing hikes I have ever experienced!

A relatively open area of the Herring Cove Trail.

The Herring Cove Trail is so well made it is almost beyond belief. Sometimes the surface is one stepping stone to another, or it meanders through moss covered greenery, or across bridges made from one huge tree trunk with planks on top.

A sampling of the walking surfaces!
Mary Grace and Amelia on a giant log bridge.

It’s impossible to describe the muffled silence of the ground covered in hundreds of years of layered decomposition, broken only by birdsong, water cascading over rocks and our comments of delight and reverence.

We didn’t see any leprechauns but I bet they were playing with sprites!

The Herring Cove hike would not be complete without a visit to Beaver Lake and our efforts to get there were well rewarded. Walking the edge of the lake was like being in one of those ad campaigns that show the pristine waters for Coors beer or the mountain streams and lakes used for perfect drinking water.

Picture perfect Beaver Lake was the official start of the TTR Polar Plunge!.

On this, our first full day in Alaska, Frank, Amelia and I decided we had to jump into the icy lake and really commit ourselves to all Alaska has to offer. Three jumps and several shrieks later, we had all completed our first Polar Plunge! Afterwards, we sat like seals soaking up the heat from the sun warmed rocks and decided that a new TTR tradition had been born: The TTR Polar Plunge.

Amelia and Frank in Roy’s van – as thanks for the ride, we bought dinner.

We only stayed in Sitka for two nights as we wanted Tommy to see a bit of Alaska before he left for his next adventure. With only a few nights to explore, we decided to stay one night in each anchorage to maximize the area Tommy was able to see.

Large tide ranges restricted how far in we traveled.

Our first stop was Magoun Bay, a quick 28nm from Sitka. As soon as we were anchored, Erik, Tommy and Amelia made quick work of lowering the dinghy and finding a perfect spot to place the crab trap we had purchased in Sitka. We heard that catching crab is pretty easy in Alaska and we wanted to get our first taste of Dungeness crab! Sadly, no crabs climbed into our trap this time.

With Amelia and Erik giving directions, whose advice would Tommy follow?

Our next stop was Deep Bay, a long glacier formed bay off of the Peril Strait. We anchored way in the back of the bay and spotted our first brown bear! Once again the crab trap was placed and our hopes were high.

Crabs! Now to make sure they were male and met size requirements.

We were up early the next morning for a 44 nm jump to Krestof Sound, but first the crab trap was picked up and we were rewarded with our first keepable Dungeness crab! Deep Bay gave us our first bear sighting and our first crab.

Mr. Crab would soon become dinner.

Krestof Sound can only accommodate one anchored boat and we were happy to capture that one spot. At Krestof, we walked through the moss covered forest and sat upon smooth boulders along the water edge enjoying the warmth captured from the sun despite the overcast skies.

Even under cloud cover the rocks were warm and comfortable.

We explored the shore and found clams numerous and large enough to eat, but thankfully Frank remembered that the clams have paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and were unsuitable for consumption! Dinner was a (small) feast of boiled crab with garlic butter for dipping. We felt like “real” Alaskans eating the dinner we had plucked from the sea!

Amelia during our hike on Krestof

Our final stop before returning to Sitka was DeGroff Bay. Although the weather this day was the most overcast we had experienced, DeGroff itself was very pretty. The Bay had tall wooded sides that showed several areas where landslides had occurred as shown in the drone photo.

TTR’s bows point toward a small landslide.

The water itself was extremely calm and perfect for paddleboarding, which we now do sporting rubber boots! We are truly fashionistas! 

Perfect SUPing water

The next morning we left DeGroff to return to Sitka but we found that DeGroff had gifted us two additional crabs in our trap. Since Tommy was scheduled to fly out of Sitka that afternoon, we cooked the crab and ate our fill for lunch as soon as we anchored in Sitka.

Tommy and Frank enjoying freshly cooked crab.

Tommy’s flight time quickly arrived and it was time to say Aloha. We created a ton of great memories with Tommy while in Hawaii, on the passage and in Alaska. We are sure we will see him again in the not too distant future. For now, Tommy is off to enjoy an east coast summer until he begins school in the fall. Best of luck, Tommy. We know you will excel in your schooling!

POLAR PLUNGE REPORT:

Magoun Bay: 57° F

Deep Bay: 49.1° F

DeGroff: 56° F

Thanks for stopping in to read our blog. It is impossible to capture the beauty of Alaska, but hopefully you can get a flavor of how pretty it is here. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on Instagram or Facebook.

Passaging The North Pacific Seascapes

Written by Amelia Marjory

Amelia came into our lives last summer in Hanalei Bay. Her delight and joy in the world around her are contagious and we consider ourselves very fortunate to call Amelia our friend and to have had her on board TTR for our passage from Hawaii to Alaska. Amelia’s talents abound and she willingly shared her knowledge of the plants and creatures we encountered in Hawaii and Alaska. Amelia is a poetic writer whose imagery requires no photographs to support it, though I have added one short video to share Amelia’s zest for creating fun even in the middle of the ocean. Thank you for sharing your written vision from our passage, Amelia.

Amelia and Mary Grace on the bow of TTR.

After a sporty night of downwind surfing, Frank and Erik decided to furl in the reacher and fly the genoa around 0400. Suffering some tearing in the leech, the reacher needed relief. As did the crew. For, even from the cozy confines of our cabins, our senses had been on high alert— listening as the bows sliced through icy seas and silently stalled at top of each mounting wave before screaming down its vertical face. 

Even after fractioning our sail area, the relentless winds soared straight into our sole-flying genoa with verve. And while dawn disarmed the threat of darkness, the seas were still unsettled. Cross-hatched swells slapped the starboard hull and barreled beneath the bridge-deck, causing our floating carbon fiber earth to quake from the core.

I entered the salon just before 0500 to take my watch. As usual, Erik had gotten the rowdiest weather of the night, with roaring gusts that propelled us into surfs at 21+ knots. And, as usual, the seas, swells, and breeze began to noticeably calm as I took the helm. I can’t claim to know why, but there seems to be an unwritten night watch law that appoints one particular crew to “exciting” conditions, while another crew member is assigned to more relaxed circumstances. 

While Erik retreated to the cabin, I sat down at the navigation station to orient myself to our new angles, speeds, and weather conditions. My eyes jogged back and forth between the B&G screen and surrounding seas. In my foreground, digital numbers dropped and stabilized, while the seascape beyond expanded with each gentle heave of the respiring ocean. 

After a three day spell of being socked in and sailing through sea-level clouds, the fog was finally dissipating. Relieved, I watched glistening grey waves roll into an effervescent horizon… 

… Though the veil was lifting, a brisk air of mystery still loomed. Thousands of miles of open ocean surrounded us. Leagues of deep sea swirled below us. And we were still riding the edge of a precarious North Pacific weather system…  

***

Between the navigation screen and the evasive horizon, there are infinite points of focus. Each sense is riddled with stimuli of the purest kind— that of unadulterated, elemental information. And, as easy as it is for daydreams to dance in the romance, it’s the ability to engage with this profound reality that is the most fulfilling. For, the sheer vulnerability of traversing some of the world’s most formidable seas is deserving of unceasing awareness— if not for the sake of safety, than at least for the acknowledgement of gracing the raw edge of existence. 

With s/v Ticket To Ride as the chariot that carries us forth, the vessel that harnesses the elements, we ebb and flow with her calculated reactions. I’ve learned to read her mannerisms like a language. She’s a translator, an instrument for the influencing forces of nature. Rarely does she lurch or halt or reel without a subtle forewarning. The stern of the boat always bucks before sliding down a mounting wave. And the bows almost always rear up before the rudders slide out. Based on the shape of her sail or the sound of her rigging or frequency of her quake, she indicates the reality of the wind, the swell, the overall sea state. 

Therein, she (Ticket to Ride) offers an invitation to engage, to adjust course or sheet the headsail or travel the main— take your pick, play, optimize the elemental interaction. Or, just enjoy the ride. 

***

The rest of my shift consisted of watching the barometer rise, the solar batteries fill, and the tea kettle boil. Squinting into the lemony expanse, I scanned for freights or logs or treasures, but the only signs of action were bubbles in our wake. No adjustments needed. We’d earned a champagne sunrise sail. While the crew caught up on some much needed sleep, I saturated in the moment of serene, smooth, North Pacific sailing. 

Secret in a bottle! Amelia spearheaded our 1/2 way ceremonial wine bottle toss.

Twelve Days and 2473 Nautical Miles Across the Pacific Ocean.

**At the end of this blog is a bit of information concerning sailing specifics.

More than a year ago we passaged west from Mexico to Hawaii, never expecting to experience Hawaii by sailboat. Recently we left the tropical warmth, turned northeast and once again crossed the Pacific Ocean to seek the less traveled shores of Alaska. Another destination that was not part of our original itinerary. 

In addition to Frank and me, this voyage included Erik, Tommy and Amelia; our trustworthy crew/friends of Hawaiian residents whom we met during our year in the islands. Along side of Ticket to Ride were our friends Katie and Kevin on sv Kālewa. We met Katie and Kevin in 2019 on the Baja HaHa Rally which travels from San Diego, CA to Cabo San Lucas, MX. 

Our last sunrise in Halalei Bay

This trip began from Hanalei Bay, Kauai on June 14th with a stunning sunrise and dolphins escorting us away from Hawaii. Amelia’s friends gifted her Ti leaves (pronounced like tea) to ward off evil and give us safe voyage. The Ti plant was brought to Hawaii by Polynesians who believed the plant had divine powers. Hawaiian tradition says that the God of Fertility, Lono, and the Goddess of Hulu, Laka, considered the Ti leaves sacred. Today Hawaiians say using these leaves wards off evil and brings good luck. Thus these leaves are used when making leis, in a grass skirt, or as a cheering noise maker to bring good luck to a favorite sports team. In our case, the Ti leaves were placed on TTR’s bow and each side of the transom to bring us safety and luck on our journey. We shared some of the Ti leaves with s/v Kālewa to insure their safe passage as well.

s/v Kālewa sailing away from Hawaii.

We experienced a beautiful goodbye after a magical year. 

Frank, Tommy, Amelia, Erik and Mary Grace departing for Alaska.

If I were to summarize the passage to Alaska, I think the overarching theme for me would be ease. We had an excellent, capable crew who chipped in with everything; sail changes, watches, weather routing, cooking, cleaning, etc. The five of us managed to work together well and because the wind and waves were predominantly aft, we were able to have individual watches and a unique night time watch schedule.

Our first sunset at sea peeking through the Ti leaves.

This trip we chose to have three hour evening shifts with one person on each shift. Since we had five people and four shifts, every night one crew member had the night completely off. This luxury of a full night of sleep made for a very well rested and happy crew!

We had a full moon during our passage.

Another unique aspect of this crossing was that the daylight hours were increasing as we traveled toward Alaska, so each evening the hours of actual darkness decreased. The additional light made “night watches” easier but there is mystical quality to the starry nights on passage that I missed. Sometimes on passage watch, when no other light is visible, the stars are so brilliant that they provide candescence to our path and we are actually guided by the starlight.

Earlier I alluded to the fact that this trip was an easy one and part of the reason is that I had SO much help with meals. Actually, I think I cooked very few of the meals on board with Erik doing the majority of the cooking and Amelia creating delicious salads and homemade dressings. Tommy stepped up to prepare some panko-crusted Hebi. The food we ate was amazing and it was interesting to see how different the meals were using the same ingredients I usually buy. We only repeated one meal in our 12 days of passaging! 

Erik’s homemade blueberry pie – the first of THREE while he was on TTR!

None of us could decide which meal was best, so in the comments, let us know which one you think sounds most delicious.

I am limiting the list to our dinners:

Day 1: Beef and noodle soup that was so thick it was more of a stew

Day 2: Homemade chicken noodle soup with a salad of cucumber, tomato, onion, feta and homemade dressing.

Day 3: Pork tenderloin in a brown apricot/butter sauce with rice and grilled asperagus, topped off with a lovely latticed blueberry pie baked from scratch (anniversary dinner for Mary Grace and Frank) 

Sunset at sea.

Day 4: Split pea soup from scratch with homemade corn bread.

Day 5: Fresh caught Ahi sashimi appetizer, followed by panko-crusted Hebi (spearfish) with rice and a spinach, walnut, goat cheese, dried cherry salad, with another homemade dressing.

Day 6: General Tso’a tofu (tofu, broccoli, quinoa, ginger, peppers, etc) with asian-style salad 

Day 7: Homemade pizza (1. pepperoni and cheese 2. pesto, artichokes, goat cheese, capers, zucchini and  3. sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, onion, cheese)

At sea, we mark each sunset since it is often the most dramatic visual of the day.

Day 8: Ahi steaks, sautéed green beans & mushrooms, and baked panko parmesan crusted snap peas

Day 9: Fifteen bean ham soup with homemade bread

Day 10: Swedish Pasties (hand-crafted stuffed dumplings) with spinach, bell pepper, cheddar cheese salad

Day 11: Homemade chicken tortilla soup with cucumber, tomato, onion, feta salad

Day 12: Ahi steak with stir fried veggies and rice

Amelia and Frank soaking up the sun before the weather turned cold. Wing on wing sails up.

I continue to be surprised by how busy we stay during passages, even with crew on board. This passage, weather took more planning than on most trips, so that consumed a lot of time. We also spent some time playing Cribbage, had some music/dance hours (ok, the guys weren’t into this), we soaked up the sun while the warm days lasted, fished and cleaned our catches, listened to pod casts, napped, cooked, cleaned, read and even watched Blue Planet once or twice.

Watching nature on TV while looking at the ocean out the back door.

We did encounter one incident when the Doyle reacher leach began showing unsettling wear half way into the passage. Quick to diagnose the issue, Frank and Erik removed the reacher and glued and sewed a repair strip to the leach. They made quick work of the repair and very soon had the reacher repaired and redeployed.

We left Hanalei with a very good weather window. The Pacific High appeared to be firming up and the forecast for the first several days looked positive for sailing. Once again we hired Bruce Buckley to read the weather and advise us along the trip. We ended up sailing between a low system to our west and a high system to our east. We were able to use these systems to our favor most of the time. Thankfully, we avoided any nasty storms and experienced only two minor squalls. Plus we had wind for most of the trip. 

Sailing while surrounded by fog.

This passage was the first time we encountered deep fog which was a really different experience.  I would estimate our visibility was 125 yards for 5 days of our trip. It was a little unnerving to sail along at 10 knots of boat speed while unable to clarify the path ahead.  We relied heavily on radar and AIS to identify objects we were unable to see in the opaque gray wall and we were thankful each time it dissipated.  

Sitka, AK – the fog cleared and the weather was beautiful!

At the very end of the passage, a wind shift to the north was predicted so when the wind died, we fired up the engines to insure our arrival in Alaska before the wind was directly on our nose. The last 24 hours or so under motor were used to take care of end of passage clean up. Salt and dew always accumulate on a passage and wiping down the inside of the boat and cleaning the decks is a necessity. 

With unusually warm weather, instead of cleaning the carpet, Frank decided to surf it into Sitka.

Motoring at the end of a passage is a great time to address damage or breakage and begin repairs, but thankfully our only incident was the sail that Frank and Erik repaired while underway. We didn’t have any damage or breakage to address at the end of the passage. Go TTR!

Originally we planned to sail directly to Glacier Bay, but we allowed the wind to direct our path and that resulted in landing at Sitka, AK. We managed to snag the last open marina spot in Thomsen Marina and as soon as we tied up our freshly cleaned boat, we popped the cork on a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate a successful, safe, comfortable and fast passage.

The first HH Catamaran to land in Alaska?

Sitka felt like we had landed in the quintessential Alaskan movie set! Fishing boats with scores of hard working people on board, pine tree covered mountains wearing snow hats, skies of deep blue with wisps of white clouds and bald eagles soaring in the sky. Our landing in Alaska was a distinct contrast to our departure from Hawaii but it was equally beautiful in a completely different way.

Five happy and well rested sailors safely docked in Sitka.

Our buddy boat, Kālewa arrived just a few hours after we did. We really enjoyed keeping in touch with Kevin and Katie and discussing weather options during the passage using satellite communications. Though we weren’t within sight of Kālewa the whole trip, we were in contact and it was comforting to know we were within 80 miles of a friend.

Prior to departing for Alaska, I had heard some sailors say this was their best passage ever. I had also heard stories of pretty difficult trips including one monohull that was finishing a circumnavigation and had to abandon their sailboat 250nm from Seattle. 

As always, I was slightly nervous prior to our departure from Hawaii, but thankfully this turned out to be one of our best passages to date.  

******     Sailing Speak:    ******

Flying the North Sails gennaker with the spinnaker staysail deployed as well.

Our passage goal was to have a quick, safe, fun and comfortable trip: we weren’t trying to break any speed records. 

We left Hawaii with one reef in the main sail and the genoa deployed. We completed the whole passage with R1 (one reef) in the main sail.

The first 2 days of our trip, we were close hauled with an average true wind angle of 55 degrees. Our average true wind speed was 15.67 knots with an average boat speed of 8.96 knots.

By the afternoon of our third day at sea, we recorded our first TWA over 100 degrees and for the remainder of the trip all of our true wind angles were above 100 degrees. We flew a variety of sail configurations including: main-R1 with genoa, main-R1 with reacher, reacher and genoa flying wing on wing, gennaker with genoa flying wing on wind, gennaker with spinnaker staysail, genoa only and reacher only. 

Gennaker to windward and genoa to leeward.

This passage was our first long term experience of flying wing on wing head sails and it was an interesting and positive experience for us. We flew our reacher to leeward and our genoa to windward at wind angles deeper than 160. This configuration was comfortable and we could “reef” by rolling in the windward sail. We used this sail combination for 5 or 6 days and felt TTR was quick and comfortable.

Everyone on board enjoyed experimenting with a variety of sail plans while continuing to make good speed over ground. 

Passage mileage: 2473 nm

Average speed: 8.6 knots 

Max speed: 21.6 knots 

Max daily miles: 234.5 nm

Travel time: 12 days – almost to the hour.

Downwind sailing at 18k of boat speeda cruisers dream.

*******

Seasickness Note: Tommy brought scopolamine patches and I tried the patch for the first time on this passage. The scopolamine worked very well for me and this is one of the few passages I can remember not being apprehensive about becoming seasick. Thank you, Tommy.

As always, thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear which meal sounds most delicious to you, so let us know in the comments. We are thankful to the Petersburg Alaska Library for the use of their internet. We hope to update you more often, but have to see what internet we find. Look for quick updates on Facebook or Instagram. Be safe and stay well.

P.S. Our next post is written by Amelia and offers her perspective for part of the passage to Alaska. Amelia is a beautiful writer capable of creating copy for companies or poetic descriptions of her experiences. I’m sure you will enjoy her contribution.

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