We departed at low slack, 10 o’clock on the morning of June 5th, and just moments before a turn of tide that would have held us pressed to the dock another six hours. Wind, calm. Sky, partly cloudy.
In some ways it had been a near miss. The gods, in their wisdom, conspire to keep a boat in harbor, and today’s example of conspiracy was merely one of many. As my last task before letting go lines, I topped off with water. I put 44 gallons in the aft tank only to find quantities of it spilling into the bilge. The engine was already running. The sail covers were off. And I had a leak! Tightening the tank lid gasket took only fifteen minutes, but if it had taken half an hour, we’d have missed our tide.
Homer had been a stroke of luck. I could have bought a boat in a much remoter place; Grenada or Cambridge Bay, to name just two. But in Homer I made a friend, Adam, who lent me his truck while he jigged for cod in the Aleutians. Mike Stockburger offered sage solutions to many problems while he and his crew at Homer Boat Yard sandblasted Gjoa’s bottom with skill and for a reasonable rate. Eric Sloth at Sloth Boats gave me a corner of his shop so I could execute the spreader repair out of the rain. The food in town was good. And the bay, windy but flat and a perfect place to learn to sail.
But it had been time to go since the first cruise ship arrived, and now there had been three.
Out in the bay I found a southerly breeze coming down off the mountains, now only snowy at their peaks, and set a course southwest … for somewhere. Close hauled and with a bone in her teeth, the boat charged off as if somewhere could have been Hawaii or Patagonia or the moon.
Near Seldovia, the wind died and then filled in from the northwest, fresh and cold from the higher mountains of northern Cook Inlet. Again, we charged close hauled but on the other tack.
By 2pm we were rounding Pt Pogibshi when the wind died for the last time, and I motored into Port Graham, keeping well off the outlying rocks of Dangerous Cape, invisible under a calm sea. I dropped anchor at 5pm, having made 30 miles of westing, into 60 feet, mud. Scope, 200 feet.
We will be here two nights, tucked far up into the nether end of this wide bay. A strong southwesterly is predicted for tomorrow, and since our target, Kodiak Island, lies in that direction, we will await Tuesday’s easterly.
We are alone, save for the otters. Otters, bald eagles, high-walled mountains with waterfalls. It may not be the goal, this bay, but it is certainly somewhere.