220 miles, 24 hours non-stop…the trip length, complete with an overnighter, is a first for us and a first for NWExplorations' Mother Goose.
We were off at 8am. The anchor chain was the worst we’d ever seen, coated with what looked like gray cement, courtesy of the nearby glacier. Even Brian said it was the worst he’d ever seen. It took Karen quite a while to get the chain cleaned and stowed…and she was covered with grey goop. Luckily, I appeased her with pancakes for breakfast and all was well.
The weather was perfect and sunny, winds were less than 10 knots from the east and southeast, with seas less than 2 feet on the quartering stern.
With just Karen and I onboard, we decided to try a four hour on, four hour off watch schedule. With such benign conditions, four hours at the helm was no problem. And the four hours off gave you the opportunity to read, wind down or actually get some sleep. We drove for quite a while from the flybridge, it was so calm with such an amazing vista. Dinner was chili and cornbread, which was easy and filling.
For the night portion of our journey, Karen set the schedule so that I stood watch on for the 11pm to 3am period. She did not want to take the “dark” watch. I smilingly informed her at 3am, when she came to relieve me and asked if the night transit was scary, that it never really got dark this time of the year at these latitudes.
One of the unusual aspects of the trip is that most of it was comprised of a westerly heading. You think that you “go north” to Alaska, but Alaska actually arches over to the west, so our crossing of the Gulf of Alaska was actually due west.
In terms of scenery, snow-covered mountains were off in the distance. Kayak Island was stark and eerie, jutting out of the water like something from a science fiction movie. We saw no traffic, except for a fishing boat or two as we neared Hinchinbrook Entrance.
Our approach to Cordova was into the rising sun. Luckily for me, Karen was at the helm so she had to deal with the navigational challenge.
Our first stop in Cordova was the fuel dock. Like most facilities in this part of Alaska, it is not a floating dock. At 6:30am, Deception and Telita tied up on opposite sides of the dock and OceanFlyer and Patos rafted to them. Four diesel hoses came down to us, and we all took on a little less than 250 gallons each when we were done. Good thing, because the local fishing boats started lining up to get fuel, wondering who these pleasure boaters were that were hogging their access.
Cordova is a very nice and large fishing port. It features wide fairways and large slips. The harbor master had us raft up along “G” (guest) dock, even though there are many open slips. Seems the fishing fleet of 350 boats is due in tomorrow, so he is leaving plenty of room for their arrival.
It’s still early in the morning, so after securing the boats, we walked up town for breakfast with the crew of Telita. The Killer Whale Café is a local favorite, and while the food was good, the service is very slow. The back of the menu warns of this, but it took over an hour for the six of us to get our breakfast. If we were not so happy to be sitting on land, rocking as we were from the effect of more than 3 days at sea (especially Karen), there might have been a revolt. But wait we did and we all inhaled our breakfast. It was good.
Our first stop after breakfast was to visit Copper River Fleece. Karen had read all about this place and it was on her “must see” list. Their unique service is that they customize their products with a wide range of unique embroidered tape. I picked out a plain black weatherproof jacket and then picked out my pattern, the location where I wanted the adornment added and even had them shorten the sleeves a bit. Two hours later it was ready. A custom jacket all my own to remember Cordova by. We also enjoyed a trip to the local library to see a small but very interesting museum with lots of information on the effects to this day of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
There are a couple of great grocery stores in town. The most convenient is the AC Value Center at the head of the docks, but the Camtu (box store) was good too. I made a trip to Redden Marine Supplies just behind the grocery store, for some fuel filters and we checked out the recommended pizza place, Harborview Pizza. It’s a humble looking shack, but it has a wood fire oven and best of all, they deliver directly to your boat. We picked up a menu and pizza became the plan for dinner.
Although we are traveling with our friends on Telita, we have not seen much of the crew since we were always at sea. So we took this time in Cordova to sit on the rear covered deck of Telita and catch up, enjoying our libations, eventually ordering pizza and then moving inside as the temperatures cooled. We stumbled home to bed about 9pm, ready for a good night’s sleep.