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Laura Domela
Portland, OR
Adventures in travel, technology, and style -- via sea, land, and air
Interests: Airstream, Nordic Tug, travel, camping, boating, cruising, San Juan Islands
Recent Activity
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I took a few photos yesterday before (well, and after) all the drama. It was sunny and clear and we got quite a different view of the scenery than we did on our way out of Juneau last week as we headed to Hoonah, Elfin Cove, and Pelican (when it was socked in and rainy). Leaving Flynn Cove yesterday morning, looking west down Icy Strait: Lynn Canal, looking toward Juneau (before the seas kicked up): Rounding Point Retreat (from Lynn Canal into Saginaw Channel): After we rounded the point (before the drama), another boat (a Grand Banks called "Safari") who had been traveling the same route radioed and asked how we'd liked the ride out in Lynn. Heh. We both felt about the same: glad to be out of it. Here's Safari with some nice scenery in Saginaw Channel, also headed to Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier: We passed a tug in Stephens Passage towing a barge with a bunch of containers on it, and also, this little scenic railroad train car, probably heading up to Skagway. We binoc'd it and there is no name or writing on the side, but I'm certain it's a new car for the White Pass &... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Riveted
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Excitement at sea today! We were cruising from Icy Strait through Southern Lynn Canal toward Juneau, Alaska. The seas in Lynn Canal were much heavier than forecast - seas 5-7 feet! (forecast was 3 feet for Southern Lynn Canal, 5 feet for Northern Lynn Canal...so, you know, trickle down happens, and then builds). We were headed right into it, and it was a pretty rough ride (but still kinda fun). We'd brought the engine up to 65% power for about three hours as we crashed through the waves. (We normally cruise at less than 30% power.) The boat handled it like a champ (and we’d been in worse conditions before). Watch this video, and then just picture that for three solid hours: We turned the corner around Point Retreat into Saginaw Channel. The waves were still big, but at least we were going with them. In a following sea, it seems (and sounds) much calmer, but the waves are the same size and they just push you around a bit. It's way more squirrely. They boat will suddenly turn left or right as you surf down one wave, then the bow buries as you start up the next one. It's... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska One of the most important things I learned in art school was how to edit. So many students try to cram every idea they have and every technique they know into each piece they make, and one of the biggest challenges for professors is to get students to see that "less is more" and that too much stuff can overwhelm the audience. There's an elegance in the simplicity of a piece of art that's been pared down to its bare essence. Some of the most difficult things to design are the pieces that seem the most minimal, and most artists and designers struggle with this throughout their careers. ALASKA TOTALLY DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO EDIT! We woke up this Sunday morning in Flynn Cove with eagles flying overhead, otters swimming nearby, and salmon jumping out of the water all around the boat. While I was making breakfast (salmon cakes using the Coho we'd caught on our way into Flynn Cove last night, topped with an over easy egg and hollandaise sauce) Kevin grabbed the crappy little telescoping fishing rod that we used to throw in the kayak bag, and put a spoon on it and... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We left Pelican yesterday morning around 7:30am and headed toward Dundas Bay in Glacier Bay National Park. It was sprinkling a little bit, but the sky was clearing and we had a nice view of Brady Glacier underneath a cloud layer as we entered Cross Sound. Cross Sound was literally swell-less…just a very slight chop. We made our way into Dundas Bay, an unrestricted part of Glacier Bay National Park that you don’t need a permit for. Since Glacier Bay National Park is about the size of Connecticut (well, most things are up here in Alaska) we decided to save it for another trip, since it's likely we won't have internet in there for a week or so, and we've already asked a lot of our team in the way covering for us while we explore all these remote areas with no internet). We headed for what was recommended as the best anchorage in Dundas Bay, the most NW arm with a view of Brady Glacier: Yep, I think this’ll do. Here's our track from Pelican to the Dundas Bay anchorage (36.2 nautical miles): We took a dinghy excursion around to the mouth of the bay... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We took our time getting around Wednesday morning in Elfin Cove. Since low tide was early (6am-ish), the flood tide would have been going against us in that narrow, shallow channel so the later we left the better (but probably no big deal either way). We made breakfast, did a little work (the internet was back!) and then walked up to the general store to grab a few things. This was our walk to and from the general store, alongside the narrow exit channel. The general store is a fairly well-stocked one for such a small village. (Airship's at the end of the dock facing right.) Passing the general store on our way out: The forecast for Cross Sound was still mellow (3 feet), so out we went. It was fun to be briefly in the bit of ocean swell from the Gulf of Alaska. Gentle swells, fishing boats, and gorgeous rugged scenery: Once we turned into Lisianski Strait, we fished a while but only caught one too-small Chinook and threw it back no worse for wear. We spotted two separate families of sea otters swimming alongside the boat in groups. They checked us out intensely,... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We didn’t always get along with Kayley. Our friendship was the kind of friendship that started out too glowing and too perfect too early, and then slowly its faults and personality quirks were realized as they moved quickly into annoyances. But let me back up and tell you the whole story. We first met Kayley (well, kind of) using the Active Captain plug-in app on our iPhones and iPads to scope out new anchorages and coves. The app gives you general information about the marinas and obstructions and fuel docks and water and nearby grocery stores and such, and then people write and post reviews of places they’ve been, and those reviews show up along with the other information about a place. It’s very helpful to hear what real people think about a spot…how good or bad the holding is in an anchorage, whether there’s wildlife or great scenery, tricky navigational challenges, etc. We started to notice certain reviews in Active Captain that stood out from the rest. Most reviews are standard, to the point, factual mainly with a little bit of opinion thrown in but not much. Kayley’s reviews were different. They were flowery, but... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Before we left Hoonah this morning, we went up to Chipper Fish and had breakfast. A local recommended it to us, and specifically, she recommended that we try the “Right On” which was biscuits, covered with mega tots (tater tots kicked up with bacon and green onion), covered with sausage gravy, and topped with a fried egg. We ordered half an order to split, and it was STILL too much. But it was darn good. (One-quarter serving shown in photo below.) Our cappuccinos came with a nice message, too: We got back to Airship and waved goodbye to Hoonah (and the internet sucking cruise ship anchored out by the cannery. Seriously, each morning we had great internet until the cruise ship came in, then basically no internet again until the cruise ship left.) The seas in Icy Strait were relatively smooth and we were cruising along happily when we heard someone talking on the radio about humpbacks bubble net feeding at Pt. Adolphus. We were not far from Pt. Adolphus and could see boats over there, so I upped our RPM to 3200 and we headed for the point. I watched with the binocs and could... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Today was a rainy rainy day in Hoonah. (That's the view from Airship's galley, above.) But we had things to see, so we suited up "full Alaska" (rain pants, rain jacket, hat, Xtratufs) and headed out to do some exploring. First up at 9am was a visit to the carver's studio just up the road, where local native artists Gordon Greenwald, Herb Sheakley and Owen James are working on the cultural elements of the traditional Huna Tribal House being built in Bartlett Cove in Glacier National Park. Our tip from Sherrie--the harbormaster here--to get there at 9am when they opened in order to beat the cruise ship crowd was a great tip! We heard later from some boat neighbors who went later on that there were about 20 people in there when they visited. We were the only ones at 9am, and spent a lot of time chatting with the carvers and learning about the project.) More info about the project is here if you're interested. I took a bunch of photos, but even shooting RAW the white balance was so hard to get right in the final photos. The light was a mix of natural... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2015 at Riveted
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Behold, Airship's new grill: It's the small Sea-B-Que made by Dickinson Marine, and so far, we rate it very highly. It's brushed stainless instead of polished shiny stainless (which looks crappy in about 5 minutes), and it's got ceramic, separatable grill sections (easy removal for cleaning), and even (gasp!) medium and low settings (that work!!) We contemplated the large one, but for 99 percent of our use the small one is just fine (and more portable and efficient). The only thing the large one has that the small one doesn't (besides more space) is an automatic igniter, but we can order one of those to fit our grill once we are home. We've cooked on it twice now, and it's fantastic, and WORLDS better than our old Magma that came with the boat (and bonus, it stays lit for more than two minutes)! First we made burgers (messy, messy burgers, with chorizo and blue cheese) and the clean up was super easy. Last night we grilled the Coho fillets and same thing...just wipe the cool ceramic grates clean and you're good to go. We gave our old grill to some fishermen on the dock in Juneau before we left the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We left Juneau on Saturday morning. Our original thought was to fish a bit and anchor for the night in Oliver Inlet at the north end of Admiralty Island (not a very far cruise). However, we didn't really research it thoroughly until Saturday morning and learned (too late) that this anchorage is one that must be entered at high slack tide only, which was at 8:43am (half an hour from when we read that) or 8:50pm (a little late to be getting into an anchorage so nearby). So we opted to fish a bit longer and then anchor in Admiralty Cove for the night (on our way to Hoonah). We trolled for salmon and managed to get four Cohos onto the boat (we lost two before we got them close enough to net). They were about 25, 26, 27, and 28 inches, respectively. This was the biggest one: We also managed to hook a small halibut, too! Bonus fish! We anchored easily in Admiralty Cove for the night. As soon as we were set, we got to work filleting and cleaning the fish. I wanted try try filleting a salmon, so I started with the smallest... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Since Tuesday (sunny!!!) it's been pretty rainy here in Juneau, so we've been focused on work, and fixing things that need fixing. Here's our Fix-It list: 1. The carburetor on our outboard motor This outboard has never been right in the head. It's a Mercury 6HP 4-stroke that we inherited it (came with the boat) and I think due to the fact that it was part of a fractional ownership program, perhaps it wasn't always taken care of in that "as if it were your own" manner. It's NEVER idled. It revs up and then settles at a high RPM, and then dies. Over and over and over again, and you have to constantly monitor things so the engine doesn't die. Pulling up a crab trap? Dang, motor quit. Getting too close to a swimming grizzly bear? Oh crap, motor quit. We've taken the carburetor apart and cleaned it several times, replaced the gaskets, and still it suffers (as do we). Kevin called Gary of Gary's Outboard in Sitka while we were in town, and Gary said these Mercury motors are actually very good. He said he could give our carburetor a good cleaning, but he... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We made this last night and it was SO good, I thought I'd share. I found this risotto recipe from the NY Times in my inbox yesterday morning, and remembered I'd brought from home the last of a bag of arborio rice in case I wanted to make some risotto while we were cruising. Well turns out after seeing this recipe I DID want to make some risotto! I modified the recipe a bit (of course, because that's what I do). I'll post it how I modified it below next to the original: LEMON RISOTTO WITH ZUCCHINI Ingredients: 7 to 8 cups well seasoned chicken or vegetable stock, as needed (I used 2c clam broth and the rest seafood stock) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup minced onion (I used shallots, because I prefer them over onions) Salt to taste 1 pound summer squash (mixed varieties), diced (I used zucchini, because that's what I had) 1 1/2 cups arborio rice 1 to 2 garlic cloves (2) Freshly ground pepper to taste 1/2 cup dry white wine, like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc (I used Prosecco...it's what I had) 2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Today was sunny!! Finally! We got a ton of work done this morning and then decided to take advantage of the sunny day in Juneau and get out a bit more. We braved the hoards of cruiseshippers and got ourselves a ticket to ride the Mt. Roberts Tramway from the cruise ship docks up the side of Mt. Roberts. (Tickets are 33 bucks per person...which seems a bit high, but there's a lot to do up there and it's pretty cool.) More of the view on the way up: The marina where we're staying is the one just past the bridge. If I zoom in, we can even see Airship! We grabbed some lunch and a beer at the Timberline Bar & Grill, watched a movie in the Chilkat Theater about Tlingit culture and history, and checked out the Raven Eagle gift shop. I bought an Alaskan yo yo, also called Eskimo yo yo, kind of like the one my grandma had when I was growing up. It's not quite as cool (or intricately beaded) as the one she had, but it's still nice to finally have found one. It was kind of a bummer though,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Yesterday we decided to rent a car so we could do a little sightseeing and shopping, and so that we'd have a convenient way to take Christy and Mijonet to the airport on Monday. It was a rainy day, so we suited up and walked downtown to get the car. The cheapest car was a Toyota 4 Runner, 24 hours, 125 bucks, pick up and drop off at the Goldbelt Hotel, but subtract from that the $30 cab fare to the airport, and the $20/pp shuttle to the glacier...it wasn't a bad deal and gave us a lot of freedom. We headed out to Mendenhall Glacier (with a lunch stop for fish & chips at the Sandbar & Grill). Again, the fish & chips were fantastic! This place is definitely not a tourist stop. The ambiance leaves a LOT to be desired, especially in the diner part...the bar part is pretty much what you'd expect...but the Alaskan halibut fish & chips is KILLER). We got out to Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and started with the exhibits and the (very well done) movie in the theater, and then headed out to hike to Nugget Falls. The 7-year... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We left our little cove inside Tracy Arm and cruised the 25 miles or so to South Sawyer glacier. There was far less ice to dodge than when we were here before. Far less, and far less other boat traffic as well. Passing a seal on our way to the glacier: We were able to get very close (but not too close) to South Sawyer. We turned off the engine and just hung out for a while, watching (and listening to) bits of glacier calve off into the water: Here's one as we were approaching the glacier that has another boat in it, for scale: Here are too many photos of South Sawyer glacier (and another seal we passed on the way out): (Note on the chart plotter how close we are to the mapped glacier.) We decided to head in to see North Sawyer glacier, since the path was so clear. (We didn’t go in there last time at all because there was SO much ice.) There was pretty much NO ice in front of North Sawyer, and we were the only ones in there (besides two kayaks), so it was all ours. The rock... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Today we left Pybus Bay and headed over to anchor in the Tracy Arm anchorage so we'd be ready to head for the glaciers in the morning. The weather was gray and rainy, and just outside of Windham Bay we noticed some dark vertical things and splashes in the distance. More breaching humpbacks? Let's head over there! As we got a little closer we realized that only some of what we were seeing were breaches. The other vertical dark things sticking out of the water were the enormous pectoral fins of a humpback before big splashy fin slaps: And, more breaches. This time I was ready(ish): Pretty freaking cool, right? We got to our little cove and this intensely blue iceberg greeted us near the entrance. Related articles Leaving Ford's Terror, and Humpbacks All Day Glaciers, Icebergs, and Drones Taku Harbor to Tracy Arm Cove Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We left Warm Springs Bay this morning around 8am and I made breakfast underway: a bed of wilted spinach, fresh Dungeness crab, an over easy egg, topped with hollandaise sauce and chives. As I was putting stuff on the table for Christy and Mijonet and Kevin was at the helm on a business call, all of a sudden out the dinette window appeared a giant whale tail…diving…pretty much under the boat. I gasped in shock and Christy knew from my face to look behind her so she got to see it too, but Mij missed it. It was insane (and huge, and too close too close too close). Kevin missed it completely. No big deal. Just boating along eating fresh crab and eggs with hollandaise and a GIANT WHALE TAIL RIGHT THERE!!! We got further across Chatham Strait and the seas were about 2-3 feet and a little choppy, so we tacked a bit toward Kake before heading back on course toward Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island. We got ourselves into a GIANT pod (or MANY giant pods) of humpbacks. We’ve never seen so many humpbacks. Not even on that one cruise up Stephens Passage, or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2015 at Riveted
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Our new crew (daughter Christy and her 7 year old daughter Mijonet) arrived in Sitka on Friday and we got Mij outfitted with some Xtratufs and a Grundens rain coat and then headed to check out the totems in the Sitka National Historical Park. It was a super rainy day in Sitka so we just cooked some salmon on the boat and got to bed early. On Saturday we fueled up and headed back up toward Peril Strait. Counting the gallons: We did some fishing on the way and got to Sergius Narrows early for the 2pm slack tide, but it was fine and we went through a half hour early with no issues. We anchored for the night at Appleton Cove. Kevin and Christy and Mijonet went out to set crab traps. I managed to snap these photos of an eagle catching a fish! We checked the crab traps in the morning and had one nice big male, in addition to one female and an undersized male. We left Appleton Cove and decided on Warm Springs Bay for our next stop. The options were Ell Cove, Warm Springs Bay, and Red Bluff Cove, but the new crew voted for... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska Here's what we've been up to for the past couple days: I finished layout for some of next week's articles (since we'll be in the AK boonies once again) Kevin did a whole bunch of client reports, webcast intros, business correspondence, and two consulting gigs with financial analysts and hedge fund managers I finished a design project for a client back in Portland Grocery shopped for the week Refilled propane so we can keep cooking Picked up oil filter and 3 gallons of oil (1/2 mile away, carried back to the boat in backpacks) for 250 hour oil change Did 250 hour oil change, plus added a bit of coolant and cleaned up the engine room all sparkly Procured some kid Xtratufs (also known as "Alaskan sneakers") and a PFD for 7 year old joining us tomorrow (we went with the blue PFD instead of the red one, so as not to clash with her pink binoculars) Got more of that alderwood smoked sea salt from Alaska Pure Sea Salt because OMG yum Picked up more of those spot prawns from Sitka Sound Seafood because same as above Got rid of all the trash and recycling... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska The weather! It's STILL like this here in Sitka! Since Tiffani and Deke left on Sunday morning, we've mostly been depressed catching up on work and boat cleaning and laundry and stuff like that. We ordered an oil filter that'll be here tomorrow, so we'll do our 250 hour oil change here in Sitka this week. We also ordered a new carburetor for the outboard from Gary's Outboard, which hopefully will lessen the amount of swearing when we go exploring by dinghy. We went for a walk the other day down to the Sitka Sound Seafoods retail store to pick up some fish. We got two pounds of large spot prawns (frozen), some halibut, some king salmon, and some coho. We figure it'd be good to have some fish up in the freezer for when we aren't catching and still want to eat some fish. I love these wooden houses across the street from the fish market. They remind me of something from a video game landscape: The other night I decided to cook up the spot prawns. I found a couple recipes and made up my own from there. First, I put some tomatoes in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska The official 4th of July fireworks in Sitka happened on Friday night, July 3rd. We had the most perfect spot for fireworks viewing here in the marina. (It actually looks way darker in these photos than it was, because I metered on the light of the fireworks for these photos.) The official fireworks show started around 11:30pm, but prior to that there were several other local shows happening that we could see from the top deck as well. As the show progressed, the moon rose up to add its glow to the show: This was the very best fireworks show I've ever seen. It did not let up for a second, and was LONG. It's a pretty good fireworks show when halfway through the show the smoke from the fireworks is blocking the fireworks: On the morning of the 4th, we all slept in and then headed into town for some lunch before catching the 4th of July parade. We stopped to walk through the little Sitka Farmer's Market on the way: Next, we grabbed lunch at The Larkspur Caffe. Kevin and I shared a Cubano sandwich and a king salmon sandwich and both were fantastic.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We arrived in Sitka early in the afternoon on the 3rd. The harbormaster put us in an end spot on Float 9 which as it turns out, was a primo spot for watching fireworks from the top deck, but more on that later. The weather was perfect for an afternoon of exploring, so we headed out shortly after docking. We walked through town, past the Russian Orthodox church... ...and the Moose Family Center (love that 70s signage!)... ...and over to the Sheldon Jackson Museum: This museum is small but mighty. The Sheldon Jackson museum is the oldest museum in Alaska and is located in the first concrete building in the state. Construction began in 1895 and it has been occupied since 1897. The building was placed on the National Historical Register in 1972. From their website: Alaska was under the Russian flag for 126 years, almost as long as it has been part of the United States. The museum's historical collection of 1,700 objects includes both the Russian colonial era and the American period (1867 to present). Outstanding among the Russian objects are a bronze double-headed eagle emblem, one of only two known to exist, a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska It was gray and rainy this morning at our Leesoffskaia Bay anchorage. We thought we'd head around the corner to Camp Coogan Bay to anchor for the night (because new place!) but first we thought we'd do a little exploring (and maybe some fishing) on the way. There were a ton of fishing boats out today: Here's a map of our route. You can see where we started in Leesoffskaia Bay and where we ended up right next door in Camp Coogan Bay, with a cruise in and out of Silver Bay and some fishing in between: As soon as we got near the head of Camp Coogan Bay, Tiffani (expert bear spotter) spotted a brown bear on the shore. The good anchorage area was pretty crowded with crab traps, but we managed to find a spot that was both far enough from shore (even shore at low tide) and far enough from any traps. We were motivated to anchor here because...bears! Right there! We watched bears pretty solidly all afternoon, more in the evening (there were two or three roaming around eating grass and turning over rocks). There were also deer...probably 10 or so at... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We liked Leesoffskaia Bay so much we stayed two nights! We took turns in the kayak yesterday afternoon (it was kinda rainy so we were all Alaska'd up in our rain gear and Xtratufs). Tiffani made dinner last night (stove-top chicken pot pies…delicious!) and we sat on the top deck afterwards just watching the light change. Earlier in the evening Kevin and Deke went out in the dinghy to put the crab traps out and came back with NEWS. They dinghied up to the swim step and said something like “Hey you guys. While we were out putting the crab traps down, some shit went DOWN.” They saw something move on the tiny islet to our west. It was a big brown bear. They watched said brown bear as it shuffled down to the water, got IN the water, and swam about 200 yards across to the other island...about 30 yards from their dinghy! A SWIMMING GRIZZLY. They had no iPhones, no GoPro, no cameras of any kind. They did not even take a walkie talkie with them. If they had, they could have called and told us to look toward Swimming Grizzly Island because we... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska We left Baby Bear Bay around 9:30am, timing it to get to Sergius Narrows about a half an hour before slack tide. We slowed up and checked conditions through the binocs and it looked fine so we headed through with no issues. Out past these islands...the Gulf of Alaska: Tiffani spotted another brown bear on the shore and we went over to get a closer look: We stopped in Sitka for an hour or so to get a little internet and do some work. We called the Harbormaster (Chuck) and asked if there was a spot where we could tie up for a little bit while we got some provisions, and he made some room for us on the dock between a sailboat and an aluminum fishing boat. He said today (June 30) is just about the busiest day of the year there because it’s the day before king salmon season opens (July 1) and everyone’s very busy readying their boats and stocking up on beer. Chuck was super nice and helpful and didn’t seem stressed at all, considering. Tiffani and Deke went up to get a few things at the market while we caught up... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Riveted