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New Arrival

Look who showed up...

Kelli made it up here after us being apart just over two months.  She flew in Tuesday June 4th at 9:45 after a little delay in Ketchican.  I picked her up at the airport and she met Northern Light for the first time about 10:00.  I took the next day off work so I could show her around a little and get her settled in.  I had made room for her clothes and things before she arrived so transitioning for me wouldn't be too hard.  I'm a fairly particular person; I like tidyness, organization, and logical methods.  Kelli is more dynamic, nebulous, and dispersed.  I knew having her come aboard the boat after it having been "mine" for two months might be an issue so I prepared my attitude as best I could and tried to set some expectations for her when she got here.  There's a place for things and if things don't return to their places, it gets cluttered and hard to live in a confined space.  Cleanliness is important with all the moisture and life in the air; if a piece of food hits the floor, it will mold within the week and that's no good.  So we got things stowed and figured out on Wednesday leaving the possibility to move things around if necessary later.  I still had a project or two laying around in the boat so there was still work to do later.

The weather was wet and crummy so it was an honest introduction to Juneau.   We went for a little drive, visited Mendenhall Glacier from two vantage points, and looked at Auke Bay where I first kept the boat after coming up here.  It was just nice for me to have someone to talk to and spend time with.  I had been keeping some venturing around for when she arrived and now I could start doing those things.  I hadn't actually gone up the Mendenhall Glacier since being here. 

Thursday she started work at Alaska Seaplanes at 3:45 am.  That's right, first day on the job and she showed up to the early early morning shift.  Turns out her manager didn't expect her until 8:00 that day but no one communicated that so 3:45 it was.  She went through training that morning and a couple people commented to me how she was already working like she had been there for a month.  She fit right in.  She's on the morning shift so we can commute together since we're 7 miles from the airport and we have one car.  Also, she can go to bed the same time as me; it would be difficult having somone up and someone trying to sleep.  Bedtime is 6:30 pm in Northern Light and the alarm jingles its despised bell at 2:30 in the morning.  Only two days of that and the rhythm was catching on. 

Since this is an Alaska adventure and not just a work camp, Friday afternoon we got off work, cruised by the post office, then went to Northern Light.  We went through the ritual of stowing everything that could move and hit the floor underway, unplugged from shore power, and got underway.  We were steaming at 5.5kts before 2 pm.  The destination wasn't set in stone yet but I figured we would see how the winds were once getting out of Gastineau Channel and see where we should go.  We raised sails NW of Dupont Dock in the channel and practiced tacking to get out into Stephen's Passage.  Once in the wider waters, I got to really thinking about tides and my thought of Oliver Inlet wasn't enticing, the tide would be falling and below 7 feet by the time we got to the inlet and the inlet was narrow and shallow.  That's a recipe for running aground.  After another tack to port, we made for Limestone Inlet.  The winds were favorable for the move south and we were moving along at 4-6 knots most of the way.  Near Grave Point we even got up to 7 knots for a little while.  Kelli got to feel a little bit of the motion of the boat and realized she could handle it pretty well with some intentional focusing outisde.  Going below was a recipe for nausea.  I pulled the dough out of the freezer I had made last week and added a little flour and kneaded it.  I put it in a bowl and let it rise for a while so we could make pizza when we got to Limestone.  Most people we know are aware we have had a Friday night pizza tradition.  Homemade pizza, a movie, and usually beer is what occupies our Friday nights.  I've kept up with the pizza tradition while we have been apart but I could finally share it again. My timing was a little off though so we had pizza while still under way.  The movie would have to wait.

We sailed into Limestone Inlet at 6:43 pm.  It was past our bedtime but there was pizza to eat so we pressed on.  The inlet is a divot in the side of the mountains on the mainland with a small creek running into it.  It is kind of narrow with steep green tree-covered slopes on either side.  There are some power lines crossing over the top some 83 feet above water line which isn't a concern for our 43' tall boat.  The nautical charts show mooring buoys in the inlet but there was no guarantee they were actually there so I was prepared to drop the anchor if needed.  Turns out there really were two large buoys in the middle of the inlet so we sailed right up to the first one... or actually 15 feet short of the buoy.  The winds completely died and we started drifting back out with the current.  We were SO CLOSE to not running the engine and tying up under sail.  Instead, Kelli fired up the engine, moved us forward just a little, and I lassoed the buoy with a dock line.  I tied off both forward dock lines and we were set.  The mailsail came down and got flaked and secured, and we were done for the night.  It was movie time! 

Kelli chose the movie for the night, it was The Spirit of St. Louis.  I had talked about it a lot and we finally remembered to download it to watch while away from internet.  We only made it about an hour in when we were getting tired.  We went to bed (still before 9pm) and didn't set an alarm.

Saturday morning arrived and we were up and out of bed before 5:30 am.  The sun sets late here and rises early.  It's not hard to get up early and we hadn't covered the hatch above the v-berth so it was bright by the time we rolled out of bed even though the clock argued with our minds about how early it was.  We didn't really have a lot to do, just enjoy the day together, do some reading, cooking, coffee drinking, and maybe some boat projects.  I actually had a number of projects I wanted to take care of but they weren't pressing.  Before long, I started on one of them though; my inverter had given up the ghost pretty dramatically a few weeks earlier and I had finally received the components I ordered to try and fix it.  I hauled the hunky chunky thing out and pulled out the soldering iron.  There were a bunch of MOSFETs to replace along with some resistors and capacitors.  It took me about two hours from beginning to end to finish that project.  I had replaced the inverter already so this one was now a spare so without testing it, I put it away.  Then in the afternoon I talked Kelli into helping me install some lazyjacks.  These are lines that run from the mast 2/3 of the way up down to the boom at a few points to keep the mailsail under control when you let it down.  I finally had all the parts to do it and a helper to assist.  The winds were nice and calm so we set to it.  I went up the mast and ran the ropes through the pullies that were there from a previous installation.  Then we started adding blocks and rope until I had three inverted vee supports.  Once one side was complete and it looked like I wanted it to, I took everything down and we cut identical lengths of rope for the other side of the mast.  Then, we put everything up to test it out.

During this process of having the sail up and fitting all the lines, we had an unexpected visitor.  On Firday a coworker asked where we were headed to.  I gave him an idea of where to find us and mentioned we had a blue dingy on the back of the boat so he could tell which boat was ours.  Well, he found our blue dingy and decided to come say hi.  He's a float plane pilot for the company I work for so on his way back from a freight trip further south, he came in to Limestone Inlet, landed next to us and said hi!  It was a quick stop since he was still working but it was cool to see him. 

With the new lazy jacks up, we let the main sail down and it fell into its rope cradle quite nicely.  I was happy with the new system we installed.  The best part is, when the sails are tidied up, the lazy jacks can be loosed, pulled out of the way and secured.  When you go to raise the main sail, the lazy jacks aren't in the way and raising the main is easier.  Many people compain about lazy jacks getting in the way of raising the main so this fixes that problem. 

We also spent a little time walking around, or trying to.  We took the dingy to shore where the rocks were steep so it would be easier to get back to it when the tide rose but the growth along the shore was extremely dense.  We tried for a while to climb through the fallen logs, Devil's Club, and moss before Kelli said she had enough.  We went back to the dingy and motored further into the inlet where the shoreline was more flat.  Kelli picked a better spot and we easily made the short walk up the the beach where the creek ran into the inlet.  Only a hundred yards or so up the creek, I spotted a small black bear at the edge of the trees foraging.  There are a lot of bears here, I mean a LOT.  We don't yet have bear spray or a gun so we didn't have much for defenses against the creature.  We decided to stay put and not do any hiking.  I ate some snacks, Kelli walked around, we watched the tide come in to some tide pools.  The water moves so fast around here.  Soon we were back at the dingy thinking about heading back to the floating apartment.  Kelli wanted some exercise so I relaxed in the front of the dingy and she rowed us back to Northern Light against the current.  Just about the time I was going to fall asleep we got to the boat and I had to hop out. 

All the details of the weekend escape me.  There was reading, cooking, cleaning, lounging, radio-ing, but overall, it was a time to relax and enjoy the quiet.

The nights were a little restless though.  The buoy we tied up to was massive.  It wasn't a soft plastic buoy, it was a big hard plastic cylinder probably 5' in diameter.  When the wind and current got to arguing or things became dead calm, the buoy would bump against the bow of Northern Light.  The v-berth where we sleep is in the very front of the boat so we had to deal with the thumping on the hull quite a bit.  The second night I got up in the middle of the night and tried to change the way we were tied up.  Instead of two ropes let out kind of far, I secured only one rope and pulled it up really tight so the buoy was always touching the hull.  This kind of worked except if we got a little motion from the waves, the buoy would occasionally thump really hard.  There didn't seem to be any winning with this big hunk of plastic.  Next time, I think I will anchor. 

We left Limestone Inlet Sunday morning in light winds.  We untied from the buoy, unfurled the headsail, and started making way without ever starting the engine.  We tacked back and forth for a while trying to get out but the winds were swirling around and eventually we found a dead spot right near the end of the inlet where it meets Stephen's Passage.  We started the engine and motored out into the wide open of the passage.  We hadn't run the engine long before we found some more consistent winds.  The engine got shut off, the main was hoisted, and we were soon sailing at 5 kts with the headsail on one side of the boat and the mainsail on the other, referred to as wing-to-wing.  It's a pretty cool way to sail when you are running directly down wind.  The rest of the trip north back to the harbor went pretty much this way.  The wind would shift from time to time and we would be on a beam reach for a while then on a run again.  We sailed all the way up to the Juneau/Douglas bridge.  We talked about what to do to get into the harbor then we raised the lazyjacks, doused the sails, and ran the engine to get into port.  Our typical parking spot was still open so we pulled in early afternoon on Sunday. 

It was a pleasant first weekend out with Kelli.  She didn't get sick, we got the sails up, and the weather was great.  The following weekend wouldn't be as causual though.  I am a man of adventure and as my dad says, "it's all fine once you live through it."  But this weekend (second weekend with Kelli) was another test of my decision making and Kelli's fortitude. 

Until next time...


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