Saturday, August 21, 2010

Travelling 3 Miles in Puffin Bay … At Anchor!!!

Sunday, August 1

Leaving Sitka, we made the decision to take the west coast passage on the outside of Baranof Island down to Prince of Wales Island … a route most pleasure craft avoid because of its exposure to the Gulf of Alaska.

After our last experience crossing the Gulf, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to take this route. But a large collection of islands serve as a buffer against the Gulf, and our cruising manuals say it’s an extremely scenic passage, so we headed out. Ultimately, our only scenery was the radar!

We had two days of rain mixed with a soupy thick fog. In the meantime, we were  navigating a foggy maze of hundreds of islands, first through the Necker Islands south of Sitka, and the next day through Windy Passage, a collection of reefs, submerged rocks, fishing boats and narrows with depths as low as 12 feet.

The going was slow and tense … we could barely see our bow, and somehow (like a rear view mirror) objects in the water were a lot closer than they seemed on the charts or radar.

We finally were able to pull out of the fog when we headed into a channel on the southwest side of Baranof Island and anchored in a tiny spot called Puffin Bay.
Entrance to Puffin Bay ... tight!

The rain continued all night, and the wind picked up as well. By morning our anchor tracker showed that the boat not only made huge sweeping zigzags around the anchor through the night, including a line that took us right over the shores onto land (guess the GPS is off a bit), but we had travelled 3 miles around the anchor. At least it held!

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Engelenbak is a custom-built 62-foot steel trawler ... designed to cruise anywhere in the world.