Appleton Cove


We motored up from Baranof Hot Springs this morning. The wind varied from none, to on the nose, but light, to probably enough to beat up to Peril Strait, where we made a left.

We anchored at 12.09, a seven-hour trip to cover about 40 miles.

Now anchored in Appleton Cove, the wind is howling in the rigging; we swing with vehemence.

It would be the perfect day to spend in bed with Jennifer, but with Hilary living with us, even though she does sleep to the rhythmic rising and falling of the wind’s howl, it is not to be.

As a fallback, it is a perfect day to read books. I am reading the excellent Measure of the Year by the Canadian writer Roderick L. Haig-Brown. I had expected a Canadian voice. There is a Canadian voice found in Robertson-Davies, Atwood and other authors current and past.

But Haig-Brown writes with an American voice in 1950 at age 42. He was actually a Brit who became a Canadian citizen as a young man. His voice is closer to EB White: a quiet, confident voice of his time, full of hope for the future of his country. While Vancouver Island, where Haig-Brown lived and wrote, has in many ways been gobbled by the burgeoning Canadian population, it is closer to the country he knew than not.

Jennifer and Hilary stayed in his house near Campbell River. The house is now a B-n-B.

When I was a young man, I could spend a day or days reading, doing nothing, or so it seemed. A weekend spent in bed with the young woman I married was not an accomplishment, just a joyous (though I didn’t realize it was) pleasure with purpose and confidence.

Now, for some reason, the act of spending a day reading a book varies from guilt-ridden, if I could manage it, to wasteful. The cerebral me sees it as a positive accomplishment I have yet to achieve.

On the trip up, we watched other AIS-equipped boats on the Android version of OpenCPN.

And, via binoculars, we recognized Amma, a boat we had shared an anchorage with on our trip from Wrangel to Ketchikan with Erwin and Laura as we all raced to airline flights.

Amma had docked at the parks department float, and as we approached moved their dinghy to make space for us.

Jennifer would have nothing to do with sharing a float, and chose an anchorage a few hundred feet towards the larger body of water.

Amma is an odd, to my eye, traditional wooden boat, a sailboat with the lines of a 1930s motorboat. Ketch rigged, with shorts masts, so possibly gaff-rigged to boot.

As we cleaned up, after dropping anchor (this involves stowing the 135% Genoa that lives on top of the anchor rode, putting away life jackets and hanging the anchor light), the male member of the Amma crew called on channel 16, suggesting we go up one. Jennifer answered and switched to Channel 17.

Jennifer and he exchanged pleasantries. He then explained that they we not expecting anyone to share the anchorage and had set a buoy for their crab pot on 100 feet of polypropylene line in 50 feet or water. He apologized and expressed concern for his trap.

When the call ended, I assured Jennifer that I had seen the trap when we came in, and we had not come any where near it.

I commented that it was odd to use a floating line for a trap buoy. It made it certain that the line would be caught in a prop.

As the five of us tracked our anchor swing, we watched the yellow buoy move what seemed to be four or five hundred feet further from us. More than any geometry of the lengths of its line and our anchor rode could account for.

After a time the buoy floated closer, then eventually passed us, drifting to the Parks Department float and nestling there across the float from Amma.

The male crewmember called to tell us we had cut his line with our prop. This was evident to him because the cut was so clean.

We offered to pay for damages. He became very friendly, said it was a used pot and gave us his email address. Jennifer wrote to him from Ketchikan, but we received no answer before we lost internet access.

As Amma came close in Peril Strait, Jennifer called asking if they were the same Amma whose crab trap line we had run over.

By now we were very certain we had not cut their buoy line with our prop. Our single experience cutting a line with our prop caused the prop to stop spinning, burned the clutch and when the line was finally cut through, the line was more frayed than cut.

In her email, Jennifer had asked how much line was still attached to the buoy, and suggested that the floating remains of the line still attached might by visible at low tide, but hoping they would discover something entirely different.

On answering our call, the man quickly, and almost curtly said ‘‘let’s go up one.’’

Jennifer asked about the trap. When the man turned on his mic, we heard a woman’s laughter in the background. The man said there had been a knot-checking failure. Jennifer inquired in such a way that it was clear she didn’t understand.

The man’s voice now had a touch of embarrassment and the woman’s laughter got louder as he explained what we had figured out: the knot slipped, or the trap was a victim of a ‘‘very dexterous sea lion.’’

Jennifer expressed her sympathies. The man replied that’s life, and we signed off.

On OpenCPN, a vessel called Fairweather showed as just entering Peril Strait behind us at 34 knots of speed.

Very, very few vessels travel at that speed. We correctly guessed it was a high-speed ferry en route to Sitka. It would overtake us shortly. At six miles away, we called and confirmed that they saw us. The man on the radio noted where we were from his AIS screen, and thanked us for the call.

Eventually the 200’ catamaran ferry passed us about a mile to port.

It is said that the sailing community is very long and very thin.

At the hot springs, we invited Jen and Jamie to come see Caro Babbo. Jamie had asked if he could. Jamie and Jenn have a steel-hulled, pilot house, junk-rigged sloop. Perfect for Alaska sailing.

Jamie and Jenn brought along three Scandinavian sailors who had arrived a few hours earlier in a hard chined steel boat. They had sailed from Europe via Cape Horn. We’re in awe of people who do this.

The sailors had come to Caro Babbo to a see a ‘‘classic 70s Swedish boat.’’

‘‘There are many of these where we’re from.’’

I mentioned Ariel IV, who had sailed from Sweden across the Northwest Passage. We had met them in Roche Harbor and again in Vancouver in summer of 2013.

‘‘Oh yes, we know them. We met them in Hawai’i two years ago. They sailed across the Northwest passage in 2010,’’ the man in the group explained.

‘‘It is the shortest way from Sweden,’’ the older woman added.

So when Yachette, the 70-footer from Quigley Harbor, who we met again in the bay at the north end of Kelt passage, showed up again on AIS and chose the same anchorage we have, it came as little surprise.

This time we merely waved. No radio call seemed necessary.

<Posted 17-JUL-2016>

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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