Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sailing Alaska: a beard in the wind

So, we left each other not so long ago as the Tokimata sailing crew, including my very kind self had gone past Geographic harbour and the Eastern side of Kodiak Island. Yet, we weren't quite done with Alaska and our sailing trip. Here are quite a few photos from the second leg of the trip.
(the First 3 photos are not mine, they are not- explicitly-permitted-courtesy of Ella S., our boat girl. That's why they are sensibly nicer than mine and that is also why they focus on Danny Boy)

Danny and Ella gone for a stroll find beautiful boulders to deal to.

On our way to Kodiak, we stopped in a small bay on Rasberry Island and our skilled fishermen did a halibut massacre. Danny went to shore and returned with berries. We ate really well for a few days.
We then got to Kodiak city, attended the famous local rodeo, met some cool locals who we spent most of the week with, having hikes, diners and parties around the place. Here having a mad dance during a pizza party.
Jared sympathized with the fridge. Here smiling at it sleazily.
IN the mean time Danny our skipper having read lots of sailing adventure books, grew an overwhelming affection for the old Peter Blake and, not satisfied with the impossibility to exchange admirative words with him in this life decided to shape a moustache in an attempt to share the feeling.
Doug Haston and Chris Bonington happened to come over for a visit. Always a life shaking experience to listen to the mountain tales.
Our life style became increasingly captivating for Michelle and Ashley who very quickly adopted the Tokimata dress code and attitude. Here after 4 days in our company: natural
BUt we grew bored of the city and as the weather improved we took our chance through the gulf of Alaska from Kodiak: piece of piss, just 5 days and we'll be there, did we think.
Well, near enough indeed, but only on the scale of things. Here exploring the Bainbridge Galcier after we had to change course and hide from bad weather the first time.
Some smooth hiking around
Here enjoying a G&T with ice chipped from the hard crust of the glacier, photo taken by a bacteria growing in a beautifully Bombay -Sapphire-coloured- ice-water-puddle.

Later on, elsewhere, with the grin of adventure on my sweaty face
J-dog working the anal diagonal
Exploring sheltering bays along the alaskan gulf (here around Prince Williams Sounds) as we carried on being maltreated by the weather. Taking the skiff to shore would open the beauties of mother nature to us. Fine creeks, deep green mossy forest floor, fish-rich creeks, berry fields. It was all there. Plenitude and serenity.
Sun and ice, smiles and peace...
Killer wales hanging out on a fresh morning
It was then time for Yakutat, a funky community of fishermen only reached by the sea, where we found shelter during the Equinoxe storm. After being warmly welcome by the locals on the first night (the hardest thing was to find the pub in the dark rainy night), Dandini and Jimmy gave a go at surfing in the ice cold waters of the entrance of the bay
Yakutat Bay also hides in its guts the Hubbard Glacier, a tidal monster at the confluent of three valleys. Tokimata got anchored as close to the ice cliff as deemed safe and a short exploration of the area started. During our time there, mighty big ice towers kept collapsing in tremendous noise, disturbing briefly the oily surface of the water. Danny having lost at Toep, our newly introduced card game (thanks to Trif's natural talent at picking the goodness out of elsewhere), he had to face his punishment and try out one of the emergency suits in the genitals-tightening sea water, which he did with a great smile.

Here doing the first and probably last ascent of the nicest looking iceberg around at that time.
A little more sailing took us further East until rough weather once again forced us to find shelter in Latuya Bay. We got there in awful weather which really added to the character of the place. This is the bay where in 1958 a landslide triggered a huge tsunami that shaved the opposite hill up to 500m elevation before flushing out taking three fishing boats by surprise with it. One of the them survived the surf and got the most thrilling ride over the spit on wave of mixed mud and logs into the sea. It is also a great looking place with dramatic glaciers and great salmon hand fishing.
A mighty waterfall flowing out of the bottom of a glacier over a bluff into a steep narrow gorge. The spray on it edge cut my first breath at the top of the hill. Rocks would constantly be spat by it. yoooouuu
returning to the skiff before further explorations
Jimmy proudly carrying the fruit of his skilled hand fishing. A neat silver salmon
We finally got the OK sign from the huge bar closing the entrance of the bay after 4 days and sailed south to the entrance of the inside passage around the corner , past the Fairweather Range. One clear, warm and beautiful day spent on the deck enjoying audiobooks and amazing views.
Dandini, a happy larry.
It was then Jimmy's turn to lose at Toep and go clear the propeller, check and brush the anodes in 7 deg water. Yup.
Bears everywhere
The inside passage eats of the Alexander Archipelago is a different place, protected, misty and varied in its similarities, if you catch my drift.
We met Gene and Curt by Tanakee hot springs. They took us with them when lifting their crab pots. Well it turned out to be a good idea. We spent a night blowing mighty fire crackers, drinking G&T and feeding ourselves crab up to the eyes. We had crab for breakfast lunch and diner for a few days. Good on them.

Down the channels from there was Baranof Island with its wicked hot springs spot. In the cutely set up settlement we met again cool locals who gave us ice creams and beers, and hiked up a neat trail to enjoy the highly rated springs amongst beautiful trees on the side of G4 rapids.

White tails everywhere...

A few days in Petersburg connected us with some young and entertaining fishermen sorting their boats out at the end of the season for the winter

Creek St, the refurbished whorehouse concentration that early settlers had a lot to do with. It is now-a-days owned and operated by the ferry companies and shuts down completely in the off season.

Jimmy then decided to leave us to catch up with his bro in Seattle and it became obvious we would have to party. Northern Lights was the theme (a fantasy tale). Here Aurora Borealis, an Oxford scholar and the Elythiometer in working order.

The Tartar warrior with his demon on the shoulder

The gypsian who wacked his ass doing a 360 of the edge of the pontoon

Lee the navigator who ended up in the cold waters of the marina after a daring climbing endeavor on the next door boat in the marina.

Spending a day cruising around Ketchikan we check out some decent totems.

Luc, like most people can pretend he is a skipper. He does it well on this following picture.

Our progression through the inside passage ended up leading us to Prince Rupert, where after 2 months on board I figured I could not make it all the way to Victoria due to a booked flight to France and the need to spend time with my family. I lamely left the crew after a few beers and games to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island where I caught up with Shaun in Port McNeill for a hike and a visit of his work site.

The heights of Prince Rupert