Lituya Bay To Yakutat

The days are getting longer. Yakutat lies 100 nautical miles from our anchorage in Lituya Bay. Our course is simple. Exit Lituya Bay, turn right and turn right again into Yakutat Bay.

Before we could clear the entrance to Lituya bay, Patos called Deception to report that one of the shafts was making a screaming noise. We all came to a stop inside the bay as Deception came along side Patos to take a look.

We started speculating the source, narrowing it down to either the shaft seal or, heaven forbid, a cutlass bearing. The crew from Deception isolated it to the shaft seal and the decision was made to secure the shaft to prevent it from turning and continue on using one engine while they researched possible solutions.

As a result, we and Telita continued on at our normal 9 knots, and Deception matched the slower speed of Patos. The exit out of Lituya was with about a 1.6kt flood, and it was a bit swelly. It was a very “traffic free” day. We only passed a Uniflite-styled vessel and a small fishing vessel, both headed south.

The skies were cloudy and the seas were about as good as you can hope for with swells ranging from 1 to 3 feet.

Nice ride on the way to Yakutat

The Fairweather mountain range hid behind the cloud deck for most of our trip. Winds remained below 10 knots but rain showers were our constant companion. According to Wikipedia the Fairweather Mountain was named on May 3, 1778 by Captain James Cook, apparently for the unusually good weather encountered at the time. It is one of the world's highest coastal mountains at 15,325 feet. It is located 12 miles east of the Pacific Ocean on the border of Alaska, and western British Columbia.

About an hour out of Yakutat, the skies finally lifted and the Fairweathers revealed themselves in all their glory. Truly amazing to see snow covered mountains from horizon to horizon.

Yakutat is a fuel stop for the fleet. All but Patos could make it to Cordova without adding fuel, but NW Explorations arranged for a fuel truck to meet us so we could all top off and have lots of safety fuel aboard.

We found the truck waiting atop a fixed high dock. Not our favorite when compared to a floating dock but we’ve done it before and it is more common than not around here.

Telita fueled first and then came our turn. As we approached we could see that there were large monster tires mounted as protection from the vertical pilings. We did not appreciate just how high these were mounted.

We were as well fendered as we could be, but fenders were basically useless. The tires barely came to the top of our stainless handrail. So, on our approach,  we touched one of these tires and our momentum against the tire seriously bent the handrail. Karen was totally devastated. After we set a stern and bow line to the pilings, we were held off the tires by the prevailing wind. If the wind was on the dock I doubt we could have made it work at all until we gained six feet more tide. We later learned that Deception also bent their railing during the fueling process. To add insult to injury, the fuel guys in Yakutat charged 1.25 more per gallon than the “going rate” in most of Central Alaska. AND they charged a “callout fee” to deliver the fuel to the dock. It does not stop there. While there was a floating dock that connected to the end of the high pier, the operator said he did not want to drag the heavy hose all the way down there. I would love to send him all the repair bills his laziness caused.

Not certain what this is, but they had one at the docks in Yakutat. Beautiful aluminium construction. I'm guessing some sort of oil mitigation emergency response barge.

We docked easily at the small boat harbor, which was nice and even had 30amp power. It was too far a walk to town for dinner, given how tired we were after an eleven hour trip and the fueling fiasco. So we broke out the frozen pizza which we have on standby for just these occasions. By 9:15 we were in bed, after all we have 70 miles to go tomorrow to Icy Bay.

The weather looks like it's going to be great as we settle in for the night on the docks.