Squire Island, Prince William Sound

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 24 Oct 2014 04:55
Position: 60 14.73 N 147 56.55 W
Moored Squire Island
Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: calm, sunny, and cool
Day's run: 25 nm

Today went pretty much according to plan with only one minor glitch. I got up early, at least early for this time of year, for at 06.45 it is still well and truly dark, but I figured that by the time I had breakfast and completed a few chores that it would be light enough to start getting under way. Thus by 08.55 I had the kedge anchor inboard, the dinghy lashed on deck and the main anchor shortened in ready to weigh. I went to start the engine, and . . . nothing happened. Oh bother! I thought I had fixed this. I went to the plug that I thought the most likely suspect, unplugged it, plugged it back together, and tried again. This time the engine started. I can see I am going to have to do something more drastic with this connector. I haven't quite figured out what yet, but the engine not starting when needed has the potential to bring on a real disaster at some point. Fortunately, this time it only caused a minor delay, though not a little disappointment and some significant concern.

As we motored clear of Hogg Bay, the sun rose from behind the island's mountains, slanting up from the south east, revealing another beautiful blue day. There was negligible wind so we had to motor to make the flood tide through Prince of Wales Passage, which we duly entered at around 11.00. As we approached the passage we were met with a very light headwind to which I set the mainsail, as this provides Sylph with a little more stability in her steering and means I can leave the wheel for a few minutes without her wandering very far off course, very handy for making oneself a cup of coffee or the like.

At 12.50 we cleared the Prince of Wales Channel, the tide just beginning to turn against us, and a light breeze coming in from the north west. I was delighted to be able to shut the engine down, set the jib and sail quietly in the light breeze and calm waters of the Sound. Far in the distance to the north I could make out the snow and ice covered mountains, and wondered how close we will be able to get to them. In the southern part of the Sound there is still very little snow, the hillsides covered in the green of Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, and the mountain tops rocky, bare, and black.

I tacked back and forth against the light headwind until just after four, when we were getting close to tonight's destination, a small cove in the western side of Squire Island. The cove's entrance is narrow and quite hard to make out, but fortunately GPS infallibly guided us in. Once inside I was delighted with my choice of anchorage for the night. It reminded me of the caletas in Chile, and indeed it is so narrow that I have had to adopt the same procedure as is necessary in much of the Chilean channels, namely to secure Sylph to the shore with long lines attached to trees. When I dropped the anchor in four meters of water as I looked over the bow I was surprised to see a rock sticking up from the bottom that looked a lot shallower than marked on the chart. The minimum depth indicated on the chart is two fathoms, or about four meters, so with the 1.5 meters of tide we should have been in 5.5 meters of water, not four.

I only let out fifteen meters of chain as I only needed the anchor to hold Sylph in place until I had the shore lines out. I wasted no time in getting them sorted as the sun was now sinking obliquely into the south west, having perhaps reached a maximum altitude of about 30 degrees at noon. I wonder how low it will be come the winter solstice. I shudder to think. The shorelines did not take very long to rig, and I have used them to pull Sylph away from the rock, which is just as well, for as the tide has gone out the rock has emerged almost a meter out of the water. Tomorrow I will use the dinghy to do a small survey on the cove to see how else it differs from the chart. Maybe I will send NOAA an advisory notice of this uncharted rock, though I am sure all the local boaters who may use this cove are well aware of it.

My plan for tomorrow is to remain moored to the shore, to relax and to explore a little, though I suspect I will not be able to get far from the cove, as the hillsides are heavily wooded and overgrown. I also need to make a plan for where to make for next in Prince William Sound. My broad intention is to make a clockwise circuit of the Sound's vast expanses, and to see as much of interest as I can before winter sets in too severely.

All is well.