Admiralty Rally 2018
Admiralty Rally 2018 participants included:
A Little Romance: Steve Parker and Hal Geiger;
Kyrie: Joe, Kristen, Levi, Rachael, and Megan Grieser; and
Thalia: Patti Harper, Joel Osburn, and Craig Wilson.
The Rally started cool but ended hot, both in terms of the weather and sailing
Saturday June 16--A Slow “Start” to Point Astley
The three participating boats, Kyrie, A Little Romance, and Thalia all left Juneau at different times—Kyrie headed to Taku Harbor the night before the start, A Little Romance started on-time and sailed to within a mile of Twin Points before running out of wind, and Thalia met up with her about that time after motoring on a late start. Upon meeting at the anchorage near the wood spit in Holkham Bay, Kyrie warmly welcomed the other two boats to raft-up to her. Icebergs could be spotted floating amid the grand scenery. Thalia’s gimballed oven had allowed roasting lemon garlic chicken and potatoes while underway. Having already enjoyed dinner, upon raft-up her crew shared leftovers with the hungry sailors on A Little Romance, the first of many food sharings among Rally participants through the week.
Sunday, June 17—Let’s “Race” to Pybus Bay
Morning fog and calm waters made for an eerie start Sunday as Joe used Kyrie’s AIS capabilities to identify the location of ships in the area and relay that via radio to the other SEAS boats; he confirmed that the loud horn of a cruise ship was actually sounding from far away. The fleet decided to motor toward Point Hugh, on the opposite side of Stephens Passage, in hopes of finding breeze and visibility. A flash of salmon color in the gray caught the eye of Thalia’s crew as a sea lion played with its food. At 10 a.m. the wind came up just enough off Point Hugh to call a race start, with Kyrie acting as committee boat. The breeze was about 8 knots from the south, increasing to 12 knots over the next couple hours, as Thalia sailed a close-hauled direct course toward the Brothers, while the other two boats sailed deeper into the entrance of Seymour Canal. Thalia opened up a two-mile lead before breeze died within three miles of Sail Island. The other two boats ‘ghosted’ the coast, making up ground quickly. Kyrie eventually broke off and motored on as Thalia and A Little Romance read the wind lines. Thalia got stalled a bit in a wind lull between Sail Island and East Brother, and as she tried to slowly drift back toward a good wind line, A Little Romance, already there, pulled ahead. The boats dropped sails in mirror pond seas and headed into Pybus Bay about 6:00pm, threading through the islands into a beautiful little anchorage where Kyrie had set up another raft-up in Cannery Cove. There were lodges on the shore and some large luxury yachts, one with a helicopter pad, anchored nearby. A Little Romance returned the food favor of the previous evening with a taste of Steve’s delicious puttanesca.
Monday, June 18—Making the Most of It
Glassy calm waters and sunshine greeted the group leaving Pybus Bay. With those conditions what was the club commodore to do but hang out in his hammock on Thalia’s foredeck, while Joel’s awesome music playlist kept time to the motor? It was a time for looking at the landscape, identifying various features, and pulling out the binoculars to get a better look at sea otters. When A Little Romance found good wind at Point Gardner the hammock came down and Thalia joined in a friendly but informal race to Warm Springs Bay across Chatham Strait. With a 15-knot breeze blowing out of the north just beyond the Point, both boats sailed close-hauled to Baranof Island in clear blue skies and sun, before making several zig-zag tacking maneuvers as the breeze lightened and outgoing current intensified. Thalia was able to manage the lightening breeze, and passed the rock at the bay’s entrance first. A Little Romance may have gotten a little distracted by bubble-net-feeding whales. Kyrie had staked out perfect inside tie-up spots for SEAS boats on the dock and her crew had already tested the hot springs baths by the time everyone else arrived. Following dinner, crews from the other boats enjoyed the available bathtubs with a view, which are maintained using donations. Skippers were a little nonplussed to see a request for dock fees, which seemed new this year. Young artists from Kyrie, Rachael and Megan, drew all over the docks and dock pilings with their colorful chalk, creating fun portraits of our sailors, and bringing out the fun in everyone.
Tuesday, June 19 –Hot Springs!!
After sharing their extra fuel to ensure Thalia had enough for the return trip to Juneau, Kyrie headed off to Sitka late morning, leaving the rest of the sailors to explore Baranof Warm Springs. All hiked the short distance up to the almost too hot spring pools that lay languid near a rushing, roaring waterfall. Some went farther to Baranof Lake, where Steve went for a brisk swim.
Evening fun included explorations of the salt chuck via dinghies, a sing-a-long on Thalia with ukulele master Craig, the treat of fresh bread from the oven of A Little Romance, and general enjoyable visiting. Thalia feasted on an evening meal of red-curry ling-cod and grilled asparagus.
Wednesday, June 20 –Where Shall We Anchor?
Continuing on as a fleet of two, Thalia and A Little Romance raised sails shortly after leaving Warm Springs Bay and jibed back and forth from one side of Chatham Strait to the other in variable winds and quartering seas, occasionally crossing tracks. Temperatures soared into the mid-80s and Thalia’s crew used a tarp to fashion a sun cover for part of the cockpit. It also enjoyed Joel’s salmon tacos, grilled while underway. A Little Romance, probably three miles ahead of Thalia, scouted Basket Bay and surmised that it was a deep anchorage with minimal room. The boats agreed to motor farther, extending the distance for the day and reducing the remaining distance home. After some discussion on VHF, it was decided to end the day in Pavlof Harbor, in Freshwater Bay on the northern part of Chichagof Island. The harbor proved a good anchorage. Steve lowered the dinghy from A Little Romance and picked up Patti and Joel from Thalia to take them over to see a beautiful little falls, which, when fish are running (they weren’t), draws bears and provides good bear viewing. The boats anchored separately for the first night, though A Little Romance ferried Thalia’s crew over and hosted cocktails and appetizers.
Thursday, June 21 – Pushing for Point Couverden
Announcements about the day’s kayaking activity from the public address system of one of the small adventure cruise ships that ply Southeast Alaska demonstrated that Pavlof Harbor is a tourist attraction. Since the SEAS group was already so close to the next scheduled stop at Whitestone Harbor, and there was interest among Thalia’s crew in getting home early due to some work commitments, it was decided to push instead for Swanson Harbor, inside of Point Couverden. Wind was blowing 10 to 12 knots from the west, barely enough to counter the notorious Chatham chop coming direct from the ocean. The boats started racing near the point at the north entrance to Freshwater Bay and the wind held for the next hour before lightening up at the tide change. Both boats did their best to make headway towards Icy Strait, dealing with the Chatham chop while breeze dropped below 7 knots. After 4 hours of light air, Thalia’s track showed three superimposed tacks of 180 degrees across the width of Chatham. Fortunately, the chop subsided, and the wind filled in enough from the north for Thalia to start steady sailing west-northwest. The breeze also eventually filled in on the opposite side for A Little Romance and both boats were making positive ground. Unfortunately, another windhole set in around 5 p.m. and both boats agreed to cut and run for the harbor, still eight miles and a long time to dinner and boat drinks. Not 30 minutes under motor, the wind picked up and maintained a steady 12 to14 knots from the west. While A Little Romance motored steadily in what appeared to be little effort or discomfort, Thalia was being tossed around and bow-plowing into confused seas at 3.5 knots boat speed. Trying to improve progress, she unfurled her genoa and got a 2-knot boost in speed and better handling control motor-sailing. Wind was up to 18 knots, gusting to 24, by the time Thalia reached Couverden.
A Little Romance was tied up and the dock pretty full on the deep side when Thalia pulled in, so Steve and Hal took a lead line and measured at least 24 feet of depth on the inside dock (at normal +15 high tide). Joel made the tight turn and as the current tried to push the boat away from the dock, many hands grabbed Thalia’s thrown lines to pull her in safely. Boat tales, snacks, drinks were shared on A Little Romance, as the group discussed music and shared as many tunes from Spotify and YouTube as possible with two bars of cell service, including a little-known jazz version of Stairway to Heaven by Tiny Tim and Brave Combo.
Friday, June 22---Good Racing Home!
The last day brought the best winds and racing of the week, 15 to 20 knot southeast winds, with 3-foot seas. At one point, Thalia set the sails for an hour-long tack across the strait, which provided the opportunity for an on the water cockpit sing-a-long, starring Joel’s deep bass voice on “Sixteen Tons.”
Rounding Pt. Retreat, winds shot up through the Barlow slot, reaching gusts of 30 knots. Thalia, with a double-reef in the main and a 60-percent furled genoa, handled this fine. Other boats out included two cruising ketch-rigged Canadian cruising boats. One managed to keep sailing confidently under cruising jib and mizzen main, while the other went bare poles & motored. About the time Thalia passed the sailing ketch, her crew noticed A Little Romance coming around Point Retreat under bare poles. It had gotten caught with too much sail up in the strong wind and the mainsail roller furler jammed as the crew tried to reef it. The engine was turned on to control the boat while crew worked to free up the main. When it was fixed A Little Romance sailed again until the wind died. Thalia’s crew, despite looking at a long motor ahead back to Harris Harbor, determined to cross the finish line, so close, but now so far away with no wind. Slowly, finally, crew baking in the afternoon sun, and after several tacking and jibing maneuvers with the light-wind code zero sail, Thalia drifted across the finish line near Portland Island. Then, as A Little Romance headed into Auke Bay, Thalia motored as fast as she could go to Harris Harbor, arriving in the late evening.
Overall, it was an awesome club trip with some great weather, good sailing (at times), and wonderful company!