I anchored overnight yesterday (Thurs/Fri 7/8th Sept) near to the W entrance to Peril Strait, having finally 'escaped' in the early afternoon from Sitka - where I got to on 15th August with more engine problems. You'll remember I got seawater into my fuel on the way N from Hawaii and had to change filters and an injector whilst at sea before I could get the engine to start. It was just as well I did, since the wind died on my last day coming in towards Sitka, so I had to use the engine - but it died as I throttled back to come in to dock & I eventually had to get towed in to a slip by the friendly Hbr Office people...! I ended up having to replace both the fuel lift pump and injection pump (DHL & Customs problems and a frustrating fortnight's delay there!) and finally replaced all 3 remaining injectors (which were faulty).
Then I had problems with the copper 'crush' washers (on which the injectors sit) not sealing adequately and so allowing exhaust gases to escape. A long job every time for each one because access is SO difficult and it's such a fiddly job - I've usually dropped at least one tiny copper washer to beneath the engine every time...!! I'm reasonably expert on Volvo engine injectors/alternators/ timing/belts now... I also took the starter motor apart to clean it and annealed lots of copper washers in order to re-use them - no spares of any use to me available in Sitka!!! I must have taken out & replaced my injectors at least several times each - what a fiddly, complicated business! Good learning process - but one I could have done with undergoing elsewhere at a more convenient time - I'm short of time in Alaska and also in B.C. now...
I was up to my eyes (and forearms!) in my diesel engine all hours of day and quite a few at night also. I got myself an allergic rash from all the diesel splashing on me each time we tried the engine, having tightened everything up finally, hoping it would be OK.(In 'we' I'm including the kindly, knowledgeable mechanic named Alan Horoschak who was helping with & supervising my 'hands-on' learning process! "If you're going to keep on single-handing, you'd better know how to deal with your engine - this will happen again sometime..."!).
I'm now headed S as fast as I can (see Winlink Position Reporter) - initially to Vancouver Island (I hope to pull in to Victoria to see some of you at some point), but eventually to SF and on to Mexico - I hope!!!
I got up extra early Friday morning - one hour earlier than intended - & wondered why the sun took so long before it rose...!! Got to Sergius Narrows right on time for a good transit - but found a huge Alaska ferry behind me in the narrow channel ... and then another ahead coming the opposite way!!
What a beautiful day Friday was. We actually had sunshine from quite early on, making a nice change from Sitka's perpetual rain - and Dall's porpoises twice visited Nereida's bows as I passed through Peril Strait, not too far from the Chatham Strait end.
The snow and glaciers on mountain tops not that far from the water had a clear effect on the air temperature as I travelled down Chatham Strait toward Baranof Warm Springs - it got really cold, not helped by the sun being hidden part of the time.
I had a fabulous long soak in a tub of hot spring water & even managed to clean up my nails a bit from the grime & oil of the engine repair work! ...and later I had a couple of glasses of wine over a lovely meal with people from a charter fishing boat on the dock who kindly invited me to join them..
By contrast, what a horrible bumpy day today (Sat 9th) was - back to horrible, murky, grey, cold, rainy weather... with strong wind (20kn true) on the nose - I was bashing into it, with quite nasty waves as the afternoon wore on, to get to my overnight anchorage. I came through some nasty choppy water (shallows) as I rounded Pt Gardner in to Frederick Sound from Chatham Strait- only later did I see that the Pilot warns of that area to give it a good berth.... oh, well!! Only good news was sighting a group of humpbacks nearby for a time as I passed Pinta Rocks, nth of Kake, early this afternoon - they weren't at all bothered by the rainy, windy weather & disturbed seas!!
Had a nice salmon dinner tonight after getting in to the deserted Portage Bay anchorage quite late: 7pm. Was only making around 3.5kn (down to 1.5!!) for quite a time, as waves built up over the afternoon. There was also a nasty strong outflow from the narrow entrance channel to this bay causing very disturbed, swirling water - I had to be extra careful not to be taken sideways on to the shoals on either side.
Wrangell Narrows tomorrow should be fun with 'spring' tides! No point in getting to the entrance until 2pm - it's 20mls long and tides meet 12ml from N end.. Need to catch the end of the flood tide initially and then I should find it ebbing from the middle on south.