(August 4th, 2017)
It was a warm, sunny morning in Wrangell. Actually scratch that – it was HOT! The day started off hot and just stayed there. Despite some nice weather the past week or so, we simply weren’t quite used to it. But, after the several weeks of rain we’d had earlier in our Alaska trip, no one complained. Luckily, the bugs were minimal, so we were able to keep our cool with natural ventilation.
We had a lot of plans for the day. First, I had to make a run to the grocery store. Then, we’d go to the little museum about a mile into town. Next, in the afternoon when the tide went down, we were going to dinghy the two miles up the coast to see the petroglyphs. Then, we’d leave Wrangell for Berg Bay around 3PM.
The store was all that we accomplished. By the time it was time to leave for the petroglyphs, the heat and the pace of our travel had us beat, so we opted to stay on the boat and relax and clean for a few hours. I called Ruby Slippers to see if they still planned to go see them, and they reported that they’d all had a beer and sitting at the dock until three sounded better to them. Oh, good. We could skip out and not take too much flack from Jim.
The girls played dolls most of the afternoon, until Ellie requested that we get out the keyboard. Great idea! We cleared off the salon table, and set up the ivories. With our rare access to internet, she was excited to continue her piano lessons with Yousician. She sat right down and got to work.
It only took a minute or two for Morgan to realize what an opportunity she was missing, and coolly usurp Ellie’s place at the keyboard. When Morgan pushed Ellie out completely, Ellie figured out what was going on, and decided to protest. A fight ensued. We set the turn timer, but Morgan objected that Ellie got the first turn. We explained that was because Ellie was the one who asked to get out the keyboard, so of course she got the first turn. It was at least ten minutes before we could calm Morgan down enough to actually get the turn timer going.
Meanwhile, Rich and I were having our own minor drama. It was now 3 o’clock, and the entire fleet had left for the next anchorage, but we couldn’t find our engine key. We searched high and low, inside and outside, in pockets and shelves and in the ignition, and it wasn’t anywhere. Finally, after more than 30 minutes of searching, I decided to try to pry open the nav table that had been buried in pens and papers and electronics since we moved aboard. There was they key, sitting happily inside. I can’t imagine how it got in there, because the table was so deep in piles of stuff that it was unopenable absent a significant amount of work. But, there it was. Finally, we turned on the motor. We were now more than 45 minutes behind the rest of the fleet, and we still had to get diesel.
The fuel dock presented its own challenges. Just as we got off our dock and circled around to the fuel dock, a large motor yacht appeared at the fuel dock, monopolizing the entire length of it. We waited, drifting in the narrow channel, for more than 20 minutes while the yacht finished fueling up. Finally, as soon as he left, we slid into the dock and fueled up. Finally, we were off, a good 90 minutes behind the rest of the fleet.
Staying with the fleet isn’t critical for passages, but it is key for anchoring. Actually, staying ahead of the fleet is critical for anchoring. When you try to cram 12 boats into a relatively small anchorage, it’s really nice to show up first and get your pick of anchorages. When you show up last, you’re either trying to squeeze between two other boats, and then on the radio for the next 20 minutes making sure everyone is comfortable with your distance (and sometimes re-setting because they’re not), or you get the worst spot out at the very end of the bay, with little protection. As we approached Berg Bay, our situation was the latter. We tried a nice, cozy spot inside the bay where Breakaway had just tried to anchor, but they couldn’t get their anchor set. When we put our anchor down, it was clear why: The bottom was a field of smooth rock, which any anchor that touched it gleefully skipped along. So, we were forced out to the end of the anchorage, and set in 80 feet of water, with all of our chain out. The holding was fine, but throughout the evening and early morning we were rocked by wakes of passing fishing boats. We discussed the exploring we’d do in the morning, and headed off to bed.