Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January in the Misty Fjords

Sun breaking through the mist - Behm Canal

Nadejda moored in Punch Bowl Cove - Rudyard Bay
January found Ketchikan warmly wrapped in a mild stormy blanket of rain and mist. The wind had come occasionally too, letting us know that we were not forgotten; though he seemed to be in high spirits as those visits were more tolerable than usual.  We had been looking for a opportunity to explore an abandoned native village sight when our schedule and the weather would allow. Last week was lining up until a friend mentioned that we really should visit there on a minus tide as there are possible relics to find when the water is low. Checking the tide tables showed that the tides were high and we would be better served to wait until a more suitable tide aligned with our schedule. So plan "B" was proposed: Rivillagigedo Island circumnavigation.

Heading north in Behm Canal
We left early in the morning to make the most of the tide and pass by Point Alava before the wind picked up. As we motored down the narrows and were passing the Coast Guard base I noticed their 45' patrol boat heading our way with blue lights flashing.... great! here we go! They pulled along side to ask if we had been boarded lately to which I answered we had not and the boarding commenced. It is kind of funny that we have been sailing about for almost four years and have never been so honored, so I guess it was about time. I had been dreading this inevitable event as I have heard others talk of them being quite unpleasant. I do think for those of us whose boats are our homes it feels a bit like an invasion of our personal space, much more so than the recreational boaters anyway. To make a long story short the experience for us was very positive, the boarding officers were polite and respectful leaving us with a boarding certificate stating we had no violations. I think if other Coast Guard stations could take a lesson from our local base it would invite a more favourable reputation among the boating community. Kuddos to Station Ketchikan!

Walker Cove
DAY 1: We made our way to Point Alava passing what would be the last vessel for several days. The Misty Fjords were right around the corner. Daylight is in short supply at this time of year and there was not much time for exploring so we pushed on to Shoal Water Pass and a mooring buoy for the night. It was almost dark when we arrived but still gave the kids just enough time to row ashore and have a bit of time inspecting the beach before dinner. It is interesting and a bit sad how when something that you don't really realize you spent time doing suddenly leaves a gaping hole in your schedule. For me this was the internet, being out where there was no service available left me bored and wanting to go to bed at 6 o'clock in the evening. Now this is exasperated by the fact that it gets dark a 4 o'clock and if it had been summer I know I would not have missed it as there would have been fishing and exploring to do on shore. 

God's Pocket
DAY 2: The following morning we started early for Rudyard Bay, what many consider the master piece of the Misty Fjord National Monument. It was a short run to the entrance and we decided to cruise to the northern end, a placed called "God's Pocket". It was a wet day and very misty with the vistas shrouded from our view. We passed the Owl Face, a rock formation in the narrows leading to "God's Pocket", to enter a surreal world of quiet stillness. This quiet, already disturbed by the noise of our engine, suddenly echoed with the sound of our hull breaking through ice. The rain had wetted the ice making it look like water, the raindrops splashing on it's surface. The stillness of this place was only broken by trumpeter swans taking flight to escape their now disturbed haven. We immensely enjoyed our time there but as was to become a the common theme of our trip, the daylight was waning, it was time to head to our next mooring in Punch Bowl Cove near the entrance of Rudyard Bay.

Breaking ice in God's Pocket

Going ashore in Walker Cove.
DAY 3: As day was breaking we were making our way from the bay in hopes of landing on New Eddystone rock for some exploration. Twenty years ago my grandfather and I had landed there driven by a story of a cave and a pioneer grave within. We had been expecting a shallow cave eroded by water but instead found one whose depth left us wondering why we had neglected to bring flashlight! Unfortunately this time found Behm Canal with twenty knots of wind, pouring rain and two to three foot seas. As there was no good anchorage on the rock it was sadly decided that adventure would have to wait for another time. We continued north to Walker Cove, another bay that I had been told was even more surreal than Rudyard, we entered with a pouring rain and almost no visibility to our next mooring within the cove. We tied up with daylight to spare and all went ashore to explore. The beach was covered with pop weed and the creeks with pyrite (fools gold). The kids enjoyed dancing in the pop weed and gathering pyrite pretending it was the genuine article. By the time we made our way back to Nadejda we were soaking wet and ready for dinner. We set the crab pot and went below to warm ourselves by the diesel stove.

Behm Narrows
DAY 4: Morning came early as we had a long run to make up around the top of the island to Bailey Bay. We pulled the crab pot to our delight of crab and headed toward the mouth of the bay. The day before was so wet that we did not see much as we entered the cove, but this morning found high clouds and little rain. Mist wandered about the cliffs and trees but only to enhance the view and what a view it was! Addy and I spend most of the time on deck snapping pictures and shooting video, at times I was irritated at not being able to shoot both still and video at the same time. Walker Cove may not have the massive cliffs of Rudyard Bay but we all left the cove liking it more than the bay. We spent a wonderful few hours cruising up Behm Canal enjoying the sun who was playing peek a boo with us through the clouds and mist. Our eyes feasted on the abundance of beauty that surrounded us on our way north. Dall's Porpoise escorted us by the Chickamin River, a first for some of the children. We made Bailey Bay just before sundown and enjoyed a dinner of crab from the morning's catch.

Leaving Walker Cove
DAY 5: When I was with my grandfather we visited Bailey Bay. The memory is still fresh in my
mind of how after a fairly gruelling 2+ mile hike we came to a hot spring that was so hot one could not even take a dip in! Disappointed we went back to the boat denied. I had promised the kids that I would take them to a hot spring and today was that day. We hiked up the trail in the rain, crawling over boulders and crossing creeks with their bridges out. There was snow and ice, rocks that had to be climbed under, and mud that tried to pull your boots off as you went. This whole time I am still remembering twenty years back and the disappointment I felt, hoping that it would somehow be different this time. The girls first saw the log shelter which marked our arrival and with much excitement our pace quickened as we neared the springs. I made my way to the pool and dipped my hand in the water to reveal that water was indeed cooler, so much so that it was lukewarm at best. The kids quickly made their way to the shelter to change and ran bare foot through the snow for their long promised soak. Baths were had with much laughing and splashing, they were just happy to be soaking and playing in the middle of a wilderness in January. Returning to the beach the sky opened and gave us a good soaking, as if nature had given us our warm soak and now it was time for balance.

We quickly decided to motor to Klu Bay, primarily to help dry the boat of moisture from a very wet day. Molly hung most of the wet clothes and towels in the engine room for the trip as our engine creates a lot of heat and draws much air creating a good environment for clothes drying. It was dark before we reached Klu Bay and navigated the narrow entrance with radar, being thankful the mooring buoy had reflective tape on it for easier locating. We slept content that night.
Sunset on way to Bailey Bay.

DAY 6: The following morning found us headed for Naha Bay and the float there that services the trail system leading to a summer camp that was once a homestead. As we glided through the quiet water nearing the float things looked quite different. There were trees strewn everywhere and the ramp leading to shore was gone; a storm a couple months back had wreaked havoc here leaving a mess in its wake. We were finally able to receive weather over the VHF and discovered that another storm system was moving in and we would need to head back to Ketchikan the following day.  This was met with some excitement as it meant that we would be able to make the "Monthly Grind" a local talent show that we thoroughly enjoy. It was a fun trip that left us wanting to take at least two weeks if we were to do it again to allow for more exploring along the way.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New Year's Resolutions

Lists are good; they can inspire, prompt, enhance and/or refine one's direction in life.

Take for example last year's resolutions, it showed us that by saying we will or won't be somewhere it can jinx the possibility, that we were able to cross off accomplishments and that we did absolutely nothing toward a desired goal.
Want to see? here's resolutions from 2014:

-we won't be in Ketchikan for our next new year (Peter)
yep, still here... guess we'll try again next year ☺ third time's the charm!

-have a puppy (Adelaide)
meet Jack, newest crew member of Nadejda

-keep a daily schedule (Molly)
yeah, about that...

-work on our sailing skills
HOORRAY!! The girls & Peter went on Sweet Charlotte with the KYC Wednesday night racers!

-produce 6 videos, the last being at least 15 minutes (Peter)
I think we actually did put up six videos but not the kind we were thinking when we wrote this.

-learn to read well (Elaine)

-learn wood carving (Caleb)
pretty sure this one was never even attempted

-work hard on practicing instruments (Adelaide, Annika and Peter)
Good Job Peter & Adelaide! Anna...

-learn to play the dulcimer stick (Katie)
Oh when the saints go marching in...

-to be published
while I was thinking of a sailing magazine here which didn't happen (nor did I even try), I've since realized that's not the direction I want to go if I was to be published, afraid of jinxing it I'll let you know if & when it happens

So with a half hour to spare in 2014 we quickly wrote down new resolutions for 2015,

  • We can play 5 songs together well (family)
  • Spend the summer working on boat projects (family)
  • Have a website up & running (Peter)
  • Write a poem, design 3 sewing patterns & learn to play an instrument (Molly)
  • Learn watercolor painting (Adelaide)
  • Learn to play the banjo to get her cello back (Annika)
  • Learn pencil drawing (Katie)
  • Finish book 1 of Suzuki violin (Elaine)

and now we will see what this year holds!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014


The old tank muffler
Old exhaust seen in back ground

The new exhaust attached to the engine.
When we bought Nadejda we knew she was a project boat. We have made list upon list of project that need done sometimes categorized from urgent to want, always a victory when we can check one off. There were other times when something that I either was unaware of or had chosen to ignore could no longer be overlooked and must be dealt with; this summer the exhaust system was that project. 

I had been uneasy about the exhaust since we bought the boat but never looked too deep into it, scared of what I might find. With my suspicion all was not well I took the precaution to protect the engine; leaving the exhaust drain open to drain condensation before it could enter the engine. When I rebuilt the head I  noticed a couple cylinders had evidence of water intrusion but hoped by taking the said precaution I could protect the engine and postpone the inevitable.

The new flex joint installed.
This summer it was time to cut into the exhaust for a closer inspection; if it came down to it I would rather find out problems while safely tied to the dock then while crossing some bar when a failure could be life threatening. What I found confirmed my fears and pushed the exhaust project up the list from "probably need attention" to "urgent" status. Knowing I wanted to do away with the double wall construction in the engine room and the tank/muffler in the pilot house I designed  a system utilizing 4" schedule 40 pipe. The parts were ordered online, the fitting from Amazon Prime and  the 6' section of pipe from a steel yard in Seattle. I set to work measuring and cutting then fitting and welding. The last piece was a 4" Vernatone muffler which was placed in the horizontal section of exhaust after the water injection.
The Vernatone muffler installed.

With all the work done it was time to fire up the engine and see what happened. As the engine came to life I could not believe the difference; it sounded like a new engine. The noise level in the pilot house was reduced by 25% and the exhaust note was so quiet you could not tell we were running a Detroit, and that is saying a lot!

For those interested in more details please keep reading,

The new exhaust as seen under the pilot house bench.
I feel I should give a brief description of the original exhaust as it was very atypical and deserves some explanation. The boat originally had a dry stack and was modified at the time the pilot house was added. From the engine the exhaust flowed through double wall tubing cooled by the raw water to a large steel tank in which the exhaust was mixed with the raw water and then travelled horizontally out the side of the boat  This tank was a mystery until earlier this summer when I cut it open to inspect it. Inside the exhaust from engine travelled vertically to within a couple of inches from the top (causing a tremendous amount of noise as it created a great deal of vibration in the end of the tank). Half way down the tank the raw water was injected and the exhaust outlet exited the side of the tank with a downward facing elbow inside the tank so that the exhaust gases were forced through the water before exiting.

The capped end on the tee.
The new exhaust is constructed entirely out of 316L stainless steel, it is all single wall and insulated with exhaust wrap where dry. The exhaust follows the same path as the original but the "muffler" tank is gone and in its place the exhaust makes a u bend and then tees into a horizontal pipe that extends both directions. One end is the outlet while the other is capped and acts as both a expansion chamber and a anti-backflow device. The raw water is injected just above this tee and cools the remainder of the exhaust that flows through the Vernatone wet muffler and out the side of the boat. The new exhaust is much quieter and the exhaust no longer condensates, draining water back into the engine this is due to the exhaust allowing air flow after the engine is shut down. The engine also starts and runs better than it did with the old exhaust

One more small victory!

Following are some pictures of the fabrication process:

Hole plasma cut in tube for tee.
Test fitting parts prior to welding.
Grinding a bevel on pipe.
Bevel Complete
Grinding the TIG torch tungsten.
Tungsten ready for welding.
Installing the tungsten in the torch.
Cap ready to be welded.
Tack welding the cap in place before welding.
Welding on the cap.
Cap weld completed.
Welding on one of the elbows.
Some of the miscellaneous pieces.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

So Where Are We Now?

What a crazy, busy summer we have had! While we had good intentions to keep up with both the blog and our short videos this past summer, our seasonal jobs and the addition of Rule #20 (Don't put off tomorrow what you can do today. learned: plans change, work while the sun shines!) to our “Family Code” just got in the way. Then of course once we neared the time of departure all focus was put into making sure all was in order & stowed. I'm not a writer in the since of the idea that I can just sit down type it out and hit post. It takes me hours... it shouldn't, but it does and unfortunately I rarely have hours to spare. That's the nature of having a large family along with living on a project boat, that never ending list to check off. In essence along with my excuses I wanted let you know I am sorry I haven't kept up.

At the end of each summer here we have had the goal to take off to warmer waters, yet failed. The first year we didn't earn as much money as we hoped to make a trip south so we stayed for our first very wet winter. Not having the boat fully insulated & the confinement from numerous days of continuous downpours made for a winter we'd rather not repeat. Last year we didn't even untie lines from the dock as the night before departure it was discovered that the head of the engine needed rebuilt. Darn! So, flexible as we are... we stayed another winter. This is where Rule #20 was added – we'd kept telling ourselves that when we left Alaska and got to... we would fix and work on... Well, that wasn't happening! This past summer I cut out all activities for the kids except music lessons to keep ourselves from running everywhere which gave us the time to put into the boat. We even tried to think of anything that might go out on us right before pushing off that could keep us from leaving and fix that too. It did feel really good to mark off projects that had been on the list for years.

Katie fell and broke her wrist while roller blading right before Peter's last day. With a weather window opening up I was able to reschedule her appointment for a cast enabling us to leave right after and still be within it. It felt unreal when we were actually leaving, untying the lines and backing out of our stall. As we motor-sailed down Nichols Passage we all reveled in the fact we were moving again. The second night while in Queen Charlotte Sound we started to climb waves for for almost a full minute before falling off the other side. You could hear the hydraulic steering ram straining, we weren't making any headway and the Inside Passage sounded like a good idea. Funny thing was both passage weather before we left & XM weather were telling us there were 2 footers out there – bummer we couldn't see them. Once in protected waters we realized that we needed to backtrack up to Prince Rupert to check in, we were pretty sure the seas wouldn't allow us to cross over to Port Hardy. After checking in and looking at GRIB files the outlook of pushing farther south was looking dim with storm after storm piling up. There was however a small window to cross East Dixon and go back to Alaska.

So where are we now? Well... Ketchikan, where we discovered that many in town were awfully glad we failed.... again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

... and just disappear

It has been almost three months, three long months since a family plucked from an angry ocean became the catalyst in confirming that not only is the American public lacking knowledge of who we are and why we are, but that they are vocal and vehement in their ignorance.  Thankfully for us they are easily distracted and quickly move on to the next distraction to catch their fancy.
It has been almost three months of contemplating why we publicly share our lives and the lives of our children and to what end. Would it be better to chose anonymity in the light of ramped ignorance or continue sharing for the few who do follow? After all we bring little if any morsels to the table of the cruising world; we do not have thousands of miles beneath our keel nor do we have years of experience to share from, our faces do not bear the cracked and leather look of the those who have; there are so many that do and deserve an audience, but we are not them. 
In the beginning we wrote for those we left; family, friends, neighbors, but with the passing of time so does interest and we found we no longer blog solely for those but for new friends that we have met along the way. With much contemplation came much reflection and as I strolled through my old posts of our lives afloat I realized that maybe just maybe I have been blogging this whole time for myself. I sat in wonder of so much that would have been lost in the fog of time if not for blogging; good times and bad, how the children have grown, the progress we have made on the boat and the many, many friends we met along the way.
Truthfully, we have struggled with continuing to put ourselves out there or whether we should simply fold up our social media tent and silently steal away. In the end selfishness won over obscurity and I will continue to blog, not for those that ignorantly believe safety lies in the American dream, nor so much for our fellow cruisers looking for the “how to's”; as there are so many better and more informative blogs out there, but so that when I am old I can remember the time spent sailing and living in the wonder of it all.
Thanks to all those that have been following us... you motivate us even more to keep blogging!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Sad Bit of Luck

Adelaide playing with the Irish Band

The low sun shown through the large windows warming the room as the local Irish band  played a few feet away. Before me lay a culinary wonder inaptly called a Stuffed Sriracha Blue Cheeseburger sided with peppered fries and barbeque sauce. Adelaide was playing her fiddle with the band; she had joined them only a few weeks prior and was thoroughly enjoying the experience of playing in a group. My mind wandered to all the happy times I had spent in one of these stuffed leather chairs gazing out these windows at the harbor watching the fishing fleet come and go. The memories could not shake me from my sadness, for this was to be my last Stuffed Sriracha Blue Cheeseburger, my last Guinness at an Irish Pub in Ketchikan. The building had been sold and Willie was being evicted, the new owner wanted to replace O'Brien's Pub and Eatery with another coffee shop. Gazing at the faces of those gathered it was apparent that I was not the only one here paying my last respects to one of Ketchikan's finest gathering spots. It left me wondering if I would ever darken these doors again.
Katie and Anna
So many memories this past year are tied up in this little place. Date nights when Peter and I would come to share our dreams of the future and talk of the far away places we longed to visit. Other times we'd walk in stressed from a problem that needed discussed & walk out with the solutions written on a napkin. The afternoon we took Elaine out for her birthday & Willie put on the music from Riverdance for her to dance to and everyone clapped when she finished. Or the evening we kidnapped my friend Cammy and brought her here with us. The time spent with the Bowi Band from Seattle who graciously spent time playing for the kids and including them in the show. We always left happy, thankful to have a place to spend an evening together... except today.

At least we got a glass!
Last week found us preparing for or participating in some of the many activities surrounding St. Patrick's Day... surrounding O'Briens Pub. Two years prior Willie had decided that Ketchikan needed a St. Patty's Day parade, when filling out the paper work for the parade he'd hoped that a few folks would show up and put down fifty in the blank marked "number of participants". When the day arrived he was taken back by the turnout; hundreds had shown up to help him celebrate the Irish holiday. I think one of the police officers summed it up best when he turned to Willie and said with a chuckle, "I think there is a few more than fifty people here." The parade was to start downtown and travel past the pub a few blocks to a local grocery store, but nobody made it past the pub; the parade was over where it had begun in the heart of one Willie O'Brien, he had poured his heart into this day and he had been rewarded in kind. The band played, the sun shone, and the people were happy. Yet all of that feels so distant now!

Willie with Adelaide and Molly
Staring at the cars passing out front my mind had so many unanswered questions: would there even be a St. Patty's Day parade next year? What would really be the point of having one with no Irish Pub to end at? Why did the new owner honestly think we needed another same old same old when he had a successful business already in place he could have just renewed a lease with? Where were Peter and I going to go now for dates? The Irish band had finished and Adelaide was putting away her violin; it was time to go. Adelaide and I hugged Willie and thanked him for all the good times and made our way to the door. Looking back as we left I knew that I would probably never sit in one of my favorite chairs again, even if the new restaurant was to keep them.

Good bye O'Brien's Pub and Eatery 2012-2014