Monday, June 9, 2014

Reunion in Sitka

Four years ago when we bought Gray Hawk, Kim & Steve Oberto kind of adopted us.  I think they felt sorry for the two lonely Canucks on their dock in Elliott Bay.  So they invited us to their Christmas party, Kim taught me how to dock the boat and eventually they escorted us to within sight of Canadian waters.  Every year since then we have managed to connect with them again, however briefly.  This year when we arrived in Seattle they were just checking out of Elliott Bay to take their gorgeous boat  Maximo, over to Platypus in Port Angeles for a complete paint job so we hardly saw them at all.  We just happened to run into them at the brokers’ office or we would have missed them completely.  We thought we might meet up with them in Alaska because they come up here every summer but that was looking very unlikely until a couple of days ago.

When we met Currie in Petersburg he was planning to go to Kake, Red Bluff, Baranof & then Sitka.  We followed him to Kake & Red Bluff but then we cut loose and headed to Sitka a day ahead of him on our own.  We got here slightly after noon yesterday and the Mermaid pulled in late in the afternoon.  In the meantime we had spotted the familiar stack of Maximo in the same marina.  That wasn’t a complete surprise because we knew that Kim had to fly out of here Monday morning (today).  Phone connections are so hit and miss that we couldn’t make contact but we thought there was at least a slim chance we could connect if we got here yesterday.  When we arrived we couldn’t immediately contact the harbormaster so we were tied to the outside float waiting until we could reach him.  Before we could get moved into our assigned slip we spotted Kim and Steve heading down the dock toward us.  As it turned out they had spotted us entering the marina, likely at about the same time I spotted their stack.


Maximo had a green hull the last time we saw her but they repainted in navy blue.  Steve said a broker friend told him he could sell 200 blue hulls to every green one he listed but I don’t think any sales are imminent – they’re having way too much fun.

Marilyn has been craving a seafood dinner, particularly an Alaskan crab dinner, so she asked Kim what was a good local restaurant.  Kim responded “Well …….. our place??”  So we ended up onboard Maximo last night for one of their magnificent seafood extravaganzas and then they sent us home with a shopping bag full of fresh prawns, halibut & crabs plus some of Steve’s smoked salmon.  This guy makes his living with meat so he really knows how to prepare it – I’m not sure which of them is a better chef but it sure is fun being able to compare them.

This morning I wandered over to Mermaid looking for free coffee but  it turns out there’s no such thing as free coffee anywhere in this world.  Instead I met the fearless expedition leader and Peter I setting out for the chandlery to buy Mermaid parts.  They have so many Peters on their cruise that they have to identify them by number.  That makes it much easier for me to remember names – if its not Currie then it is one of the Peters.

After the chandlery trip, we took the Mermaid for a drink of fuel.  From here they are heading outside up the gulf to Elfin Cove and Pelican – they won’t see a fuel dock again until they get to Juneau.  The weather forecast for tomorrow is good but the next few days aren’t so good, so they plan to leave early tomorrow.  We’re going to stay one more day here and then start retracing our wake.  We’ll likely spend a night in Baranof again and then I want to go through Rocky Pass.  It has a bad reputation, in keeping with its name, but it sounds like a very scenic route.  We’ll just take it slow and time our transit in the tricky bits for high slack.

High tide slack is the ideal time for all the tricky spots.  Currents run harder at low tide, because the water is shallower so the same volume of water going through a shallower space has to run faster.  It seems so simple when you think about it but it hadn’t occurred to me until this trip.  Leaving here we’ll time the flood tide so it pushes us toward Sergious Narrows and we’ll aim to arrive at high slack.  This side of Sergious Narrows will then start to ebb back to the Gulf of Alaska but the other side ebbs east to Chatham Strait so we should get at least a little help from the current to carry us over to Baranof.  We’re both getting pretty antsy to get back on the prairies.  All along we’ve said that we would stay in Alaska until the 21st but that may get revised.  Its Marilyn’s dream so its her call.  She’s tried to talk me into leaving earlier twice now and each time I’ve convinced her we should stay but both of us are starting to miss Saskatchewan now so the next time I may not be so convincing.


That’s a grizzly sow with 2 cubs on the beach at Red Bluff.  My wife – the same one who is terrified of bears – said “Well, why don’t we just land on the beach so we can get a better look at them?”  So we did – they were still a long way off but I think she’s getting a little numb to the bear experience.



This is the Alaskan high speed ferry “Fairweather”  He goes flying through the narrow passes at an incredible speed.  The BC ferries travel 22 knots but this guy looks to be going way faster than that.  Two nights ago he popped out in front of us in a narrow, twisty spot but fortunately we didn’t make the news.

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