Shivering in Sitka, SE Alaska

Arriving early morning into Sitka Sound after just 18 days at sea from Hawaii was pretty magical, although low lying clouds hid most of the snow capped mountains the sudden increase in wildlife made up for the visual loss.  Three humpback whales surfaced several times in the distance, tufted puffins bobbed on the surface in Joys path reluctant to move out of the way, sea lions stretched out lazily on a navigational buoy and bald eagles circled over head.  What better welcome than that?  The last few days of the passage were a difficult down-wind run with strong winds and an enormous sea, waves building from behind higher than our solar panels on the davits. Keeping sails full in these conditions is a challenge, when not directly in sync with the direction of the swell the roll can be violent.  It’s times like these you discover all the loose things knocking about in cupboards, usually during the night. So land was a very welcome sight.

After anchoring in Jamestown Bay which is a couple of miles east of the harbour we took the dinghy into town escorted by sea lions swimming alongside, a little scary as they are easily as big as the dinghy. The harbour was heaving with fishing boats offloading their catches, fishing is obviously pretty good in these waters. It was great to stretch our legs and find some fresh produce. Of course our main interests when coming ashore are always groceries, hardware and marine stores but I indulged myself in The Harbour Bookstore and bought a field guide to Alaskan birdlife.

The thing that strikes me the most about Sitka is the silence, it is so peaceful in the anchorage that I can hear our clock ticking, something I have never noticed before.  The waters are still and calm and the wind is light, when the cloud and fog lifts during the morning the snow-capped mountains come into view and the sun raises the temperature to a toasty 17 C.  We have spotted sea otters, whales and bald eagles from the anchorage and our daily runs into town are always amongst sea lions and seals busy catching their lunch. This morning we passed a sea otter lying on its back on the surface, I’m in heaven here.

We are all stocked up again with goodies, have caught up on sleep and are gradually getting used to the chill when the sun sets at about 9.30pm. I’m excited as my Mum arrives from the UK today to spend some time with us and after a little exploring here we will set off to cruise the remote inland waterways down to Petersburg over the next couple of weeks.

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One of my favourite parts of offshore sailing has to be the visitors

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Albert the Albatross followed us for a while

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A Fogbow

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Dolphins playing in the fog

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A whale blows in the distance

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