June 10, 2022 Day 14: Kake to Warm Springs 53 miles- 1418 total miles
Woke up to a rainy, windy day. It’s our real first rainy day here. We’ve had a little bit of rain here and there, but not much. I’m pretty surprised we’ve made it two weeks with no real rain. If the weather continues this way, then another night in Kake is in order for us.
Ellen has a rash around her neck. It started under her chin, but it’s working its way around her whole neck. I suspect it’s from her sweating. She sweats a decent amount when she sleeps on me and Chris. Although, Ryan is starting to get that rash on the back of his neck too, so maybe it’s bug bites or something else? I’ll put vaseline and lotion on it, and if it hasn’t cleared up I will get some hydrocortisone cream the next time we go get groceries. Ellen’s skin is prone to rashes/hives. We’re not totally sure why, but we have ruled out food allergies via a lot of allergy tests. Her Allergist thinks she may just get them anytime there is any sort of change. If she’s too hot, too cold, stressed, excited, not feeling well, etc. It’s more strange to me that Ryan also has a rash too.
Our first marina showers and laundry, every other shower we’ve taken has just been at a hotel. For some reason I was pretty nervous to shower in a marina with the kids. I just had visions of us being in a crowded marina bathroom. Just me and the girls, Ellen trying to escape while I was showering. This was not that. It was one of those single toilet rooms, the ones without stalls so it’s just you. Lots of marina showers take quarters to run, the one in Kake did not. We all went in and took turns showering. Chris had Ellen while I showered so no chasing her around. There was a bench for dry clothes. It worked out quite well. We’ve learned on this trip that Ellen does not like showers, I’m hoping she’ll warm up to them. All in all it was a great experience.
The laundry was off the harbormaster’s office. This one did take quarters, but was a lot cheaper than in Ketchikan. We put our clothes in and the washing machine we used broke. Chris went and moved them to another washing machine. I got the impression that the harbormaster doesn’t spend a lot of time in the office. He wanted to leave so he told us he’d move our laundry to the drier, then he’d leave and then he’d come back about the time the clothes were done. We said OK.
As our clothes were washing we made lunch and made plans of what to do. I thought we were going to stay another night in Kake, but Chris saw that the weather was supposed to die down a little in the afternoon. We could get gas, and then poke the boat out to see if the water looked OK and keep going if it was decent, or come back if it wasn’t. As surprising as Kake was, and how much we liked it, we decided why sit still when you can go do more? Chris checked on laundry, it was finished, we got gas plus filled up our 3 extra 5 gallon jugs, and we were off!
As soon as we left the marina there was a lot of humpback activity. Everywhere we looked there were humpbacks. There were a few Uncruises and National Geographic Cruises we’ve been leapfrogging with and a group of them were out in a dinghy pretty close to a group of feeding humpbacks. We were a ways off, but we were close enough to watch them closely. Those humpbacks started lunge feeding. Lunge feeding is where they come up from the bottom and when they break the surface their heads pop up with their huge mouths open. It’s pretty impressive, it is one thing I was hoping to see. While we got an OK view (still amazing!!!) The Uncruisers got an amazing view. It was quite the experience.
After watching humpbacks, we decided the weather probably wasn’t going to get much better for the next several days. We could go and hope for the best. We are slowly making our way to Sitka, so this section we needed to cross Frederick Sound into Chatham Straight. The problem with the weather today is Frederick Sound was going to be a bit rough, but Chatham Straight was also going to be a bit rough. We would be going from one rough bit to the next instead of going someplace with protection. We found a few coves we could duck out in if we felt unsafe, but when you are crossing the sound there are no coves, you just have to go until it’s too late to turn around.
Off we went. It started off pretty decent, but then the wind waves picked up and it was a bit bouncy. The wind waves were sort of combining into almost swells, which made it a little more smoother. We did have a head sea which isn’t great for gas mileage, but I’m able to see what’s coming and brace for it, but there is pounding. The seas were probably 4 feet or so. Definitely the biggest we’ve encountered on this trip. In WA when they forecast the weather/the seas they tell us the swell size, the wind wave size, and how close they are together. How close they are together makes a huge difference. You could have 4 foot waves at 2 seconds and that would be almost undoable in our boat. Or you could have 6 foot waves at 12 seconds and that would be pretty good. Here in Alaska they just do combined wave size, without telling you how close they are so it’s really hard to judge what would be OK, or what would be impossible to do in our boat unless you go and check it out. I’d say these waves were 4 sometimes 5 feet at about 7 seconds. Ideally you want the timing to be at least double what the wave height is. Another tricky thing with boating especially in the Pacific Northwest is all the driftwood in the water. There are huge tree size logs that are sometimes partially submerged. Combine that with the waves and it’s a minefield, but luckily we didn’t hit any logs.
After crossing Frederick Sound we made it to Chatham Straight. This time we had following seas that were about as big as Frederick Sound. It was pretty stressful and very uncomfortable, but we never felt unsafe. We passed one of the coves we could anchor at and decided to keep going to the place we really wanted to go, Warm Springs. After two hours of boating in rough water we made it to Warm Springs, and it was worth it!
Warm Springs is a pretty cool set up. There are some houses or cabins, there is a public dock available (unless it’s full). When we pulled up the dock was full. That meant we’d have to anchor, and if we wanted on land then we’d have to get the dinghy down and dinghy all of us over there, which is a lot of work and huge pain. We cruised the dock and didn’t see a space so we were talking and looking where we could anchor, when a boat on the dock waved us over and said they were leaving and we could grab their spot. The timing was perfect and just what we needed!
Along with cabins at Warm Springs there is also a bath house. They have three private rooms with locks and in the rooms are giant bathtubs. There are hot hotsprings up the hill that people can go into, but the bath houses have water plumbed from the hotsprings to the tubs. They also have a cold water spigot so you can control the temperature of your bath. The bath house seemed much more fitting for our family. Even though we just showered in Kake, Ryan and I saw those baths and we wanted in! We all went for a soak. The girls took one room and the boys took another. It was glorious! Ellen loved swimming in her tub and splashing around.
As we were coming in we noticed a few other C-dories anchored nearby. We knew there was a group of C-dories cruising Alaska. One of which is big on the forum and has written a few trip reports for cruising Alaska. He’s also written several posts that we’ve used in setting up our C-dory. Chris was hoping we’d run into them, and luckily we did! After our soak we ran into Jody, whose c-dory is named Voyager, at the dock and chatted for a bit. As I was making dinner Jay from Hunky Dory, the one whose posts have helped Chris a ton came over to chat for a bit. It was really fun to talk to them! Jay has had his boat for 20+ years and normally boats in Alaska with his wife, but she couldn’t make it this time. I think it was a highlight for Chris to chat with them.
We had dinner and we were all ready for bed after the stressful boating day, and the fun relaxing time at Warm Springs.
Ryan’s Thoughts: We saw some whales and went in a hot spring and some otters.
Lillian’s Thoughts: Today was a 3 out of 5. Not too bad, but we got gas and on the way here we saw humpbacks! Then my dad met his Youtube Star! (Amanda here: we told the kids meeting the c-dory forum guy would be like them meeting one of their favorite youtubers.) Then we soaked in the hotspring and before that we took a shower and now it’s bedtime.