Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 3 Sep 2014 23:42

Position: 60 07.20 N 149 26.28 W
Alongside Seward Boat Harbor
Weather: overcast, calm and mild

I had made up my mind to go to anchor yesterday afternoon when at around two o'clock the wind started to pick up from the south, somewhat unexpectedly, as forecast. Sylph ran before the freshening breeze wing on wing, making good six knots. All of a sudden Seward was an easy two hours of comfortable sailing away, as opposed to three hours of dull and boring motoring. We were quickly past the anchorage I had planned on stopping at for the night and at twenty past four in the afternoon we were tied up alongside a transient berth in the Seward small boat harbour.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning I have wandered the docks sorting out haul out arrangements. The set up in Seward is a little unusual in that the city owns the travel lift and moves your boat to any one of five yards. Given the proximity of the yards to the haul out area it actually seems quite a sensible arrangement, in that while there is competition between the yards they are not each having to duplicate the expensive infrastructure of the travel lift facility. The yards are primarily set up for boats to be hauled out and laid over for winter storage, but they accommodate boats that need to have work done on them as well. It would seem that I am a little unusual in wanting to do work on my boat so late in the season, so I am getting charged winter storage rates which, at 3.50 per foot per month, is very reasonable. On the other hand each yard charges for standing and blocking your boat which normally is included in the haul out fee. I have settled on a yard called Raibow as their blocking fee is $160 less than their nearest competitor, plus their staff were very friendly and their facilities include a shower and laundry. For a short haul out the total cost would work out very expensive, but I figure the work I need to do will take a minimum of two weeks and, with the usual allowances for inclement weather, is more likely to take about three, so the cheap storage fees will easily offset the expensive haul out and blocking fees. We are booked to be hauled out at 2.30 on Saturday afternoon, the earliest slot available.

Seward is a small town of about 2,500 people but it seems to have all that a yachtsman could require or desire. The chandler looks well stocked and there is a large Safeway supermarket a short walk from the dock and boat yards. It is clearly something of a tourist centre, being a short distance from the major Alaska city of Anchorage, and is connected to the rest of the US by the railroad. There are probably a few too many bars to be safe for the average single handed sailor, but then even one bar can sometimes be one too many. I have plenty of work to do on Sylph so hopefully this will keep me out of trouble.

I note as a little aside that we have actually snuck above the 60th parallel of latitude, not something that I had consciously set out to do this voyage. This is only the second time that Sylph has done this, the last time being when we sailed up to Disko Bay in Greenland. The highest north we have been to date is Ilulissat in Greenland at 69 degrees, and the highest south is Puerto Williams in Chile, at a mere 55 degrees. Seventy degrees lies just beyond our reach for now. It seems that a few challenges still lie ahead of us. This thought cheers me up immensely.

All is well.