Day 17: Sitka to Appleton Cove

June 13, 2022 Day 17: Sitka to Appleton Cove 71 miles- 1593 total miles

We woke up in Sitka and we weren’t sure if we were going to stay a bit longer or head out. One of the things Chris really wanted to do was go on the outside of Sitka to get to Pelican and Elfin Cove, then Glacier Bay National Park. Pelican and Elfin Cove are two fishing villages we wanted to go to, and the quickest way was going on the outside. It is exposed so there are more swells. There are quite a few coves to explore and anchor at, but a lot of rocks and islands to navigate, which in turn also cause more waves. Our C-dory friends went this route and love it. The downside is we need a few days of good weather to make it through. If the weather turns, then it’s just waiting it out in a cove at anchor until the weather is more favorable. We had our Glacier Bay Permits coming up and we definitely didn’t want to miss those, so we needed a chunk of 2-3 days of good weather to make it. 

The weather forecast was OK, but getting worse as time went on. When we do riskier trips like this we like to make sure the weather is improving instead of getting worse, so we have less of a chance of getting caught in something nasty. (There’s always a chance the weather will turn with no notice.) Like I mentioned previously in Washington they give the swell size and then the wind wave size, and then the time between waves. A report may say 3 foot waves, with 2 feet or less of wind waves at 10 seconds. (This would be a good forecast for us, 5 feet at 10 seconds.)  In Alaska the forecast sounds more like “combined seas 5 feet”. In this example, both waves are 5 feet. But in Washington we know that the five foot waves aren’t a huge deal since they are spaced out decently and have an idea what the chop will be like. In Alaska we have no idea how close they are. Are they 5 feet at 10 seconds, or are they five feet at five seconds? Big difference.  We would be going around starting on Monday, and by Wednesday the forecast was pretty bad, and we would have to be out of there by then. It didn’t give us a ton of time, but it was something we really wanted to try.

We decided to leave Sitka and go peak out and see what those five foot waves were all about. Another thing, Sitka was out of the way. Either we could go around the outside and save time. If going around didn’t work out we would have to back track and it would take a lot longer to go on the inside. Also if taking the outside route didn’t work out, going back to Sitka wasn’t really an option for us because that also would be even more out of the way. There were parts of Sitka I really wanted to explore, but I really wanted to do the outside section even more and Chris and I both thought it would be worth it to check it out. 

Since we decided to go for it, there were a few things we needed to do before we left. We forgot a few things at the grocery store the night before, so we went back for those things. (Cooking fuel, and hydrocortisone cream for Ellen.) We also decided to eat breakfast at McDonalds before heading out. 

On our way back to the boat we talked with a couple who I think were on a sailboat (we talked to them on the dock by our boat). They said they like C-dories and seem like nice little boats. They thought it was cool we were doing this with our kids. They recommended a book called The Curve of Time about a young widow taking her kids through The Inside Passage on a boat. Definitely a book I want to check out. 

We got fuel and water in our boat and we headed off to check out the outside of Sitka. Sadly we didn’t make it far and the waves were a bit rough for our liking. I guess Ryan was even getting a little sick. We decided that since the forecast was only getting worse, it wasn’t worth risking it and around we turned. It’s frustrating when your plans don’t work out, and it’s even more frustrating when it means backtracking as well. It was a lot more discouraging than I thought it would be. I think Chris and I both wish we had more time in Sitka now that we know the outside wouldn’t work out. At least we got some good food and groceries that we badly needed, still a hard moment.

We had lunch at a nice cove called Baby Bear Bay. We were hoping to see bears there, but no such luck. We did see two deer though and they were fun to watch. After lunch we headed out and decided we were going to anchor for the night at Appleton Cove, the place we had lunch the day before. 

We made it to the anchorage a little earlier than we normally do and we had time to hang out and watch for wildlife. It was nice getting here in time to relax and spend some time relaxing, instead of boating until bedtime. 

I was looking out at the beach and saw two big bears out there. I am assuming it was a mom and cub. They were close to the same age so I think it would be a cub from last year. These ones were definitely Brown Bears (grizzlies). They were on the beach for a long while so Chris decided to get the dinghy down and take the big kids out to get a bit closer. 

Over the next few hours there were a total of 4 brown bears out on the beaches. The mom and cub on one beach, and two loners on their own beaches. They all gave each other a lot of space and enjoyed munching on the grass. 

Bear count: Today: 4    Total:7 (We more than doubled our bear count in one place!)

Ryan’s Thoughts: Whales and saw 4 bears

Lillian’s Thoughts: Humphrey! (Lillian’s frustrated phrase, think humph!) So we woke up and went to McDonald’s! Then we came back to the boat and went away! But!…! Ryan is REALLY mad that he can’t sleep next to mom LOL.  (Amanda here: Lillian wasn’t liking where she was sleeping so I told her I would switch her spots. So she will sleep in the middle and I’ll sleep in the end. Ryan was mad that he had to sleep next to Lillian and not me tonight.)

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