Resurrection Bay to Driftwood Bay to Naked Island
(July 17, 2012) Bruce awoke at about 5:30 this morning to make our last "outside waters" passage before we reach Prince William Sound and Valdez, where we will pull the boat out of the water for some last-minute maintenance items. The protected waters of Prince William Sound will become our drop-off location for the largest and potentially most treacherous outside portion of our trip - about 400 miles across the Gulf of Alaska.
This morning, the diesel engine rumbles slowly awake right below me as I lay on our bed in the aft cabin. For some reason, I really like that rumbling for a wake-up call. Not at all a morning person, I am normally one who hits the snooze button a half dozen times before groaning and rolling out of bed to start my day. Not so aboard our sailboat. Here, the slow deep rumbling awakens me with a grin. Bruce has quietly snuck out of bed, done all of the required engine checks, pulled the anchor and set off for our next destination.
I reach arms up and legs down for one big horizontal stretch before donning my thick yellow and white striped terrycloth robe and stumbling into the galley to put water on for coffee. Then I climb halfway up the companionway stairs and see my man, our captain Bruce, at the helm. I pause before speaking, for he hasn't seen me yet, and watch him in his element. I ask him if he needs anything before I go back down below to watch the water boil, grind the beans with my favorite antique hand-grinder and make my first, most precious cupa 'jo. Curling up in my spot in the cockpit amongst pillow and blankets, Bruce and I enjoy these early morning departures. I often fall right back asleep out there, but I still think he enjoys the comeraderie.
The past few days were surprisingly social for us, as we found one of my dearest and closest friends, Kimmer, in Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska. She was camping and kayaking with her kids and a posse of friends at Thumb Cove. Our kids ran around with other kids, we walked the beach, sat by a bonfire, and even SWAM off the boat! Yes, in 60-degree (not actually sure of them temp, but it is COLD!) water. Alaskans through and through, when these kids see a sunny warm day, they HAVE TO go swimming, no matter what. The surprising thing was that although there were six teenagers and kids jumping off the boat, this 45-year-old Mom was the ONLY one who dared to dive off the bowsprit! Before the swimming expedition began, my friend Kimmer and three of her friends paddled to us for coffee and tours. At one point, we had two dogs, a cat, six adults and three kids aboard while we floated at anchor taking in the glaciers, mountains and eagles. I loved and cherished this social time, while Bruce decided it was a good time to hoist himself up the mast to install our radar. Yes, it was a perfect day to do this project, calm and dry, but I also wonder if he wanted some distance between himself and a bunch of chatty women friends.
After leaving Thumb Cove yesterday, it was once again quiet on board, just the four of us and our cat Tiger. We easily fell into our on-board rhythm, one that I wish we could re-create at home. We watch, we listen, we read and nap and help each other; we take turns at the helm, we snuggle and we cook.
Until we arrive in Valdez tomorrow, it will just be us and the birds, the lapping water on the hull, the sun-speckled waves. And the wildife. Here is a taste of what we have seen over the last two days: Stellar Sea lions lounging on exposed rock islets; otters lazily floating like they do on their backs with feet up, eating or sleeping; puffins; kittiwakes; gulls; eagles; humpback or grey whales; dahl porpoises swimming alongside the bow of the boat, crossing back and fourth, the 6 knots easy for them to match. And, of course, salmon. Salmon in streams, salmon jumping out of the water, salmon salmon everywhere.
The biggest sighting of the day was on our way to this magical little cove on Naked Island. Sailing across almost still water, we spied what we thought was a triangular-shaped portion of a log in the water, but as we approached and attempted to turn away, it kept moving forward toward us! It came straight to the boat, toward our port side beam, and was so close to the surface, we could see the entire length of the eight-foot long SHARK that swam right under us! A salmon shark, we think, this was a first for all of us. Impressed we were, all of us. Of course, no camera near by.
So, here I sit at this idyllic cove, the sun actually hot for Alaska (it might be about 65 or 70 degrees out). We went for a short hike and the kids, overdressed, wilted in the heat. HA! How will they fare in the tropics? This journey into Prince William Sound felt a little bit like coming home, for it was the first place Bruce and I moored our beloved 1969 36' Columbia sloop "Gotta Go." It is absolutely pristine here, with wildlife, glaciers and natural beauty everywhere one looks. So calm today, I was even able to go to the bow and do a few Sun Salutations.
Tomorrow we head to Valdez, the first town we have been to since we departed Homer on the 12th. Looking forward to exploring and doing all of those things cruisers do: find the local public pool for showers; find the laundromat; the closest grocery store to the harbor; the local pub for insiders' knowledge and entertainment; historical sites and museums we can bike to; and of course, most importantly for some of our crew, the nearest ice cream shop.
[Pictures to come later today. Have to hit the grocery store now.]