Tue 28 Oct 2014 04:26
At anchor off Coghill Point
Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: sunny, cool
Day's run: 22 nm
The forecast of light winds for the day proved to be spot on, and thus far
all has gone according to plan. The anchor was aweigh at 09.25, and from
Squaw Bay we motored around East Flank Island, and into Esther Passage.
Esther Passage is ten miles long, so at a modest speed of five knots, the
engine ticking over at 1500 rpm, we arrived at its northern end just on
midday. On entering Esther Passage we had a very light northerly breeze
blowing, but once we were through to its western end and out into Port Wells
it was totally calm, and the water mirror smooth.
I considered options for the night's anchorage. There were three: Hobo Cove almost directly opposite
the exit point of Esther Passage; a bay off an abandoned mining site called
Golden, some three and a half miles north of Esther Passage; and a tidal
flat inside Coghill Point nine miles north of the Passage. The Pilot
described the anchorage off Golden as poor holding, and said nothing about
anchoring off Coghill Point, so I assumed it would also be poor holding. It
did mention Hobo Bay as an anchorage, but if we anchored there that would
leave over twenty miles to get to Harvard Glacier. The forecast for tonight
and tomorrow is for light winds, and seeing as conditions were totally calm
on entering Port Wells, I decided that there would be minimal risk in
getting as far north as we could for the day, and anchoring behind Coghill
Point. This would leave only twelve miles to go to the glacier, a distance
we should easily be able to motor, and back to a safe anchorage, within
daylight hours tomorrow.
Hence here we are, at anchor behind Coghill Point. My Alaska Geographic map
shows a trail leading from the anchorage to Coghill Lake, about six
kilometres away. Seeing as we were at anchor at two o'clock and there was
plenty of daylight left, this struck me as rather a nice hike. Unfortunately
the tidal flat, presumable created by the outflow of the Coghill River,
extends a long way off the shoreline, so while we are anchored reasonably
close to the Point we are a long way out from the head of the bay where the
trail begins. Not to worry, I thought, a bit of a row will not do me any
harm. I packed a few things in my back pack, a couple of snacks, the hand
held GPS, and of course the pepper spray in case of bears.
I started to row, and I rowed, and I rowed, and I rowed. Boy, it sure was a
long row. Unfortunately all the shorelines closer to Sylph were rocky and
precipitous, with trees clinging right up to their very edges, leading
immediately into near impenetrable growth, making a landing before the head
of the bay quite impractical. As I was rowing I glanced into the water and
caught a glimpse of the bottom. At this point it dawned on me that I was
rowing over the tidal flat, it was now high tide, and that if I did row all
the way to the head of the bay and left the dinghy there, that when I
returned from my hike and the tide had gone out, that the dinghy and I would
be stranded up to maybe a kilometre away from the water. This realisation
made me pause at my row locks. I came to the conclusion that my idea of a
hike was actually not such a good one.
Instead I sat quietly allowing the dinghy to drift on the dead still water,
munching on a food bar, contenting myself on the rather lengthy row in lieu
of a hike. I slowly made my way back to Sylph, following close to the
shoreline. As I did so I was intrigued to notice that the water was so
smooth that the very slight wake made by the dinghy was throwing a pattern
of striped light and dark bars into the foliage of the trees, caused by the
sunshine reflecting off the ripples from the dinghy's passage. Ducks could
be heard honking in the distance, and, apart from the dull roar of jet
engines high overhead about every ten minutes, all was serene.
Actually, I was quite amazed at the number of aircraft that flew over us in
the short time we had been at anchor. The clear blue sky was criss-crossed
with a maze of contrails, that soon dissipated into thin high cloud covering
most of the sky. If it wasn't for all those jet aircraft I am sure the sky
overhead would have remained a pure clear blue all day long. Unfortunately
the near constant sound of aircraft flying overhead and the lines of
contrails rather detracted from the sense of being in the wilderness, but
the scenery is beautiful nonetheless.
Tomorrow my plan is to motor up to within a few miles of Harvard Glacier and
then try to make it back to Hobo Bay for the night. It is definitely
starting to get a tad on the cold side, especially at night, so I should
probably be thinking about following the swans and getting south sooner
rather than later.
All is well.