Author Archives: Ticket to Ride

Alaskan Journal ~ July 20 through August 2, 2021 Part I

Our last Alaskan journal ended on the afternoon that Randy and Shellie of s/v Moondance arrived and Erik and Amelia moved onto s/v Kaléwa with Katie and Kevin.  We had a big crab boil dinner on TTR with Katie, Kevin, Shellie, Randy, Erik and Amelia and generally enjoyed catching up and sharing time before we would wave goodbye in the morning.

Our plan was to make a short hop just to get away from the dock and back on the hook where Shellie, Randy, Frank and I would plan our route.  Shellie and Randy had cruised in Alaska two years prior on their own boat and it was fun to compare experiences and plan to visit places they had seen and some they had not.

Point Retreat was pretty and fruitful.

We had heard from some local fishermen that the salmon were really hitting at Point Retreat, not far from Auke Bay, so although the guys were skeptical about a fisherman sharing good fishing locations, we chose to steer TTR past that point on our way to No Name Cove at Hawk Inlet.

King Salmon have black mouths, so they are easy to identify.

Much to our delight, we were very successful with our salmon fishing at Point Retreat. Within 30 minutes we caught three king salmon!  However, we released all three because we weren’t licensed to harvest Kings.  The Alaskan fishing permit requires you to buy a special license to catch king salmon. We hadn’t bought those so we released the fish – we aren’t into illegal fishing and we surely don’t want bad karma from cheating the system!

After a better than expected night at No Name Cove, we upped anchor and headed into the Chatham Strait but we encountered the worst motoring conditions we had seen since arriving in Alaska. We had SE winds with opposing currents that created chop and waves and generally miserable conditions.

We all agreed to cut the day short rather than endure the conditions and Shellie and Randy found a good spot named Pavlov Harbor to drop anchor.  This unexpected stop turned out to be a great anchorage and a wonderful surprise! 

There was a river with a rocky drop-off with a salmon ladder on one side. Of course we took Day Tripper to the river to explore the water fall and hike a state park trail that started near the river. We brought bear spray on the walk and happily didn’t encounter any bears. You can see the beauty of the area the trail wound through by looking at the photos.

Since we arrived early, we also had time to do a little fishing from Day Tripper and once again we were very successful; this time with silver salmon! The one we kept was a good size and provided four meals for four people! 

Clearly this salmon’s mouth is not black like the king salmon.

Seeing as how lucky our harvesting had been, we decided to put out the crab pots near where some commercial pots were dropped. 

Using an official Alaskan crab measurer to evaluate our catch – two keepers.

The weather dictated another night in Pavlov but we were all happy to stay and enjoy the unexpected beauty…. we saw a brown bear and her cubs two or three times. The picture shows them near the stream we hiked the first day. 

A very enlarged photo of the mama bear and her two cubs.

Frank and Randy went to shore to find firewood as we wanted to try smoking some of the salmon and when they were returning to the dinghy they spotted the momma bear and cubs by the waterfall. From the dinghy, they guys actually watched the momma bear grab a salmon at the base of the waterfall, then run into the woods with her cubs following…… I guess everyone was having salmon for dinner!

Randy and Shellie are very pleased with this large salmon

Shellie made salmon chowder for all of us for dinner.  Yum. How lucky are we to have guests who help with the planning and cook too?!

In Pavlov we saw evidence of animals we didn’t encounter.

Our next destination was Takatz Bay which is another gorgeous anchorage. We anchored in about 50’ of water and from our anchor spot could see two separate waterfalls tumbling from high on the hillside. While on TTR, the sound of the rushing waterfalls provided delightful background music during dinner and while we slept!

Two waterfalls in this picture and others nearby.

In the back part of Takatz, there is a tidal flat that is too shallow to dinghy through at low tide, but during high tide it is deep enough to dinghy across the tidal flats. With Randy at the throttle, we puttered right up to the river that cascades energetically through large boulders and into the bay. We were so close to the rushing water that the spray misted into our faces and the sound of the water was very loud. Another demonstration of mother nature’s power and beauty.

The water tumbling into Takatz Bay.

While exploring Takatz Bay, we spotted some raspberries and Frank tried to pick a few from the bow of the dinghy.

In Takatz, we saw a cruise company called “The Un-Cruise” which has smaller ships and had people out in kayaks or on shore hiking with a guide. I think the idea of a smaller cruise like this one that can go into more unique anchorages is more appealing than larger cruise lines. 

We all would have liked to stay longer in Takatz but Gut Bay was quietly calling to us.

Wispy, low lying clouds added some beauty.

We had the anchor up by 5 am. As we left Takatz Bay, the early morning, low lying clouds created a completely different look in the bay and created interesting photos. Our usual early morning departures in Alaska are made easier by the changed appearance of our locations in the morning light.

Despite the less than fetching name, Gut Bay was another pretty stop.  The entry to Gut Bay was easier than we anticipated, however when we plotted the recommended anchor locations on our chart, they both showed us dropping anchor on land – a good reason one cannot rely solely on electronics!

We took Day Tripper out to explore a nearby river and found a raised platform that appeared ready to use as a base for pitching a tent. We tied up there and set out to try and ford a trail to a secondary basin of water which was only accessible on foot.  We carefully picked our spots through the various streams and truly tested how waterproof our boots were. Shellie lost that test as her boots definitely had water ingress. Plus I think her’s were the shortest so she had to be very careful when choosing her path!

Even with bear spray in hand, we were less than comfortable as we moved across the water. This looked like prime bear territory. Frank forded ahead and was soon across the water and working his way into some dense, head-high brush. After three scat sightings in a very short time, even Frank agreed it was time to turn back.  

The areal shot makes the trek through the stream and to the other water look very short, but we just didn’t think it was wise to try our luck. Mostly I was concerned about accidentally coming between a bear and her cubs.

An areal view of the water we were crossing to get to the remote basin.

We ended up backtracking and exploring the woods we had passed before fording the streams. We felt more comfortable here because we could see further and saw fewer bear calling cards.

Although we weren’t successful in reaching the other pool of water, once again Alaska offered up gifts from the depth. We landed three more Dungeness crabs and two silver salmon. We released the salmon and kept the two qualifying crabs. Yum.

Early morning departure from Gut Bay
Another view of departing Gut Bay

Once again we were up early and the morning marine layer made for a spooky departure as we left Gut Bay. This day held two surprises for us…

Preview of Part II

Thank you for spending time reading our blog. Alaska was filled with so much beauty and constant movement that it is hard to whittle down the number of pictures and information in each journal. Next week I’ll finish the time we spent exploring with s/v Moondance. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our Facebook page or Instagram.

You’ll Never Guess What Our Biggest Surprise Was While Motoring in Canada

Perhaps one of the most surprising things we saw while traveling in Canada was when we were motoring along the Cordero Islands. Frank was busy in the cockpit and I was sitting inside at the helm station, on watch, scanning the water for logs and other debris as we travelled.

Suddenly I saw something moving in the water pretty far ahead of TTR. It was some type of animal swimming in the water, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I grabbed the stabilizing binoculars for a closer look and I could not believe what I was seeing.

I quickly grabbed Frank and made him look too….. I didn’t even know this animal would swim, much less that it was such a fast swimmer! Too fast for me to get a picture.

BUT, I did some research and found a photo online:

This photo from Discover Vancouver Island Magazine looks exactly like the cougar we saw swimming across the channel.

According to the magazine article, cougars are territorial and their favorite food is blacktail deer. A cougar’s territory usually comprises an area of 30 to 100 square miles, but they will swim to smaller islands to hunt if they cannot find enough food in their own quarter. The cougar then returns to his usual grounds.

The Vancouver Island Magazine article said that sightings of cougars are very rare and that during their lifetime, many VI residents will never see a cougar.

Cougars have incredibly strong hind legs and can jump 20 to 40 feet horizontally and up to 18 feet vertically! They can run between 35-45 mph but are more suited to sprints than long distances. Cougars are solitary and only mothers and cubs are seen together. A female cougar reproduces once every two or three years. Her gestation is 90 days after which she births 2 or 3 cubs weighing between 1/2 and 1 pound each. The cubs stay with the mother for up to two years.

Image by Matthew Blake (link not working, sorry Mr. Blake)

Cougars will eat almost anything: elk, deer, bighorn sheep, domestic animals such as dogs, horses and sheep. But they will also eat small insects and rodents. Humans are the cougars only predator, though it isn’t considered an apex predator because it competes with other large animals like bears or wolves for food.

How lucky were we to see one and to see one swimming?!

Thank you for dropping by to read our blog. Hope you enjoyed this quick story about Cougars. We were really lucky to see one! If you would like to hear from us more often, please find us on Facebook or Instagram. All the best from us to you.

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.

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