July 25th - I am
actually sending this email from Sitka AK!
We have had some weather challenges (winds
and fog) and once we crossed Queen Charlotte
Sound we had lots of trouble getting wifi connections
robust enough to send these photo emails. We
have also had a few (mis)adventures that kept
us away from locations where the wifi might have
been available. I’ll catch up gradually
Here is a photo of our flybridge and what we
call our Cruiser’s Gear. It's not terribly
picturesque, but it's sure utilitarian: crab
pots, shrimp pots, line, nets, floats, extra
fuel for the skiff. We're set to eat from the
sea. Well, not quite. We won’t forget the
license for fishing, crabbing, shrimping.
On July 3 we left Pt McNeill to try to at least
get a start across Queen Charlotte Sound. We
departed at o-dark-thirty with a pretty decent
wind and sea state condition being reported
at the West Sea Otter buoy: NW 10 K, seas 1.4
meters. (One meter = 3.28 feet.) After 3 hours
(with approximately 1 mile visibility in the
fog) the swells were becoming larger. Knowing
that the wind traditionally picks up in the
afternoon, we decided to pull off into one
of our contingency anchorages: Allison Harbor.
(The Walker Group anchorage and Shelter Baywere
also on our list, but Allison was the right
fit for the day.)
The next morning we left Allison Harbor early
with another “OK” wind and sea state – West
Sea Otter buoy: NW 18 K, seas 1.4 meters. Outside
of Allison we found long 3-4 foot swells with
a nasty little chop on top; we expected the chop
because Slingsby and Schooner Channels were ebbing.
So we headed out and away from shore and decided
we could deal with the conditions. The visibility
was once again only about 1 mile in the fog,
with an occasional drop to 1/8 mile. Things were
going reasonably well.
Many of you know that we tow an 18’ skiff
that David built which he painted green and named: “The
Green Devil”. (It’s a Phil Bolger
design.) He gets compliments on it all the time
and we love its comfort and the 40 hp engine.
The down side is that we have to tow it because
of its size.
were making good progress through Queen Charlotte
Sound and were about 4 miles south of Cape
Caution when one of our routine glances behind
revealed that The Green Devil had parted company
with the Royal Sounder.
It was David’s turn at the helm when I
suddenly heard him say: “The Devil is gone!” The
heartbreak in his voice was clear. I said: “We’ll
go back and find it.” We immediately did
a 180 and started searching – scanning
the water with our binoculars. We spotted it
within about 4 minutes. Relief. Smiles. Acknowledged
However, finding the skiff and getting it re-rigged
and back into towing position are two different
things – especially when you’re in
Queen Charlotte Sound.
Here’s what we did. I drove up to the downwind
side of the Devil as if we were picking up a
mooring buoy. David reached down with the boat
hook and captured one of the lines we always
leave attached to the gunwales for side-tying.
We secured the skiff along-side long enough for
him to board it. It was way too rough for the
skiff to stay side-tied to the Royal Sounder
so – at his insistence - I cast him off.
I wasn’t happy about doing that but there
was no choice. He drove by me one more time so
I could throw him a bag with a knife and the
handheld VHF radio.
Then he headed the Devil towards shore and relatively
calmer waters where he could invent a re-rig.
He saw the hardware failure that had occurred.
Oh boy. The bow-eye was toast.
Obviously the fitting
was no longer of service. So David fashioned
a nylon rope bridle – looping
lines through the gunwales towards the bow
in a spider-web fashion to spread the load.
Then he attached the nylon tow line which eventually
would be connected to the floating tow line
on the Royal Sounder.
Here’s another angle that shows the lacing
better. Of course, the bridle lines led up and
over the Devil’s bow when it was under
It was so foggy while David was working that
there were times he could not see the Royal
Sounder from his low position in the skiff.
You better believe I never let him get out
of my sight. When he was ready, he returned
to the Sounder and I threw him the floating
tow line which he attached to his newly rigged
bridle setup. I finally felt I could take a
minute and grab the camera. Here he is being
towed in the Devil.
The picture is truly deceptive. The ocean swells
were about 3-4 feet high. You can get some
sense of that by looking behind the skiff.
They were nice long swells which is what really
made it possible to do all the maneuvering.
Nevertheless, David looked pretty forlorn back
there. When he was ready, I reeled him in along-side
and he quickly boarded.
That inventive rig got us all the way to Prince
Rupert where he installed a stronger bow eye
and devised a new towing-rig experiment. There
are now two nylon lines attached to the bow eye – with
one of the lines 2 feet longer than the other.
These two nylon lines are attached with thimbles
and shackles to the single floating line that
attaches to the Royal Sounder. When the shorter
nylon line stretches 2 feet, the second nylon
line takes on the load and begins its stretch.
The goal is to decrease the shock on the bow
eye when the Devil see-saws back and forth in
big seas. That goal has been accomplished. So
far. We hope. Fingers still crossed.
After we rounded Cape Caution the swells increased
to about 5’ with a 2’ chop so I had
to start quartering the seas. (We are 45’ length
overall, semi-displacement, no stabilizers.)
I was able to sneak behind Egg Island because
the visibility had improved a bit and I have
used that route before. Then I was right back
out there having to quarter the seas again until
we slipped up into Fitz Hugh Sound headed for
Green Island Anchorage. The Devil behaved and
has stayed with us since.