Truly Wild America
Mainsheet Magazine Spring 2017
By Blain Anderson
Catalina 50 BOB • Hull # 18
The best trips always begin in the rain. No getting around it.
Day two into Glacier Bay, and the sky is finally resembling sky instead of a dirty pothole on Main Street. The rivers have flushed from the three-day downpour, and the water is an artist’s burnt umber of tannins from decomposing wood and glacial silt. The salmon are finding it easy driving up these expanded off-ramps, and form-lines of spruce needles and alder cones sketch out the tidal currents in Geikie Inlet.
Below deck the aroma of coffee is mingling with toast and sausage. The three early birds in the cockpit alternatively stare at their mugs or off into the distance. It would seem wearisome to look another in the eye before the caffeine kicks in.
The point ahead wraps to starboard then astern, and a few frosted wave tops surround us. The captain begins to unwrap the starboard jib sheet from the winch.
“How about a little lazy sailing?” he asks, generally directed at the winch, breaking the reverie of the mug contemplators.
A startled “Sure” is offered and we find a place to stash mugs. “You’ll want a pair of gloves”.
The jib is coaxed out of its happy furled place. “Can I get a winch handle?” “Thanks.”
“A little bit more… and that looks good.”
Off towards Gloomy Knob, the rain creates cetacean fins as a pod of Dall’s porpoise spot a morning play toy flying over an underwater ridge. They quickly form up a raucous detail and charge in our general direction.
The captain points them out.
As they near – a pregnant pause – as silence engulfs the boat, all eyes now wide open in heightened anticipation.
A detonation of air, sea, and snowy-tipped black dorsal fins, and all hell breaks loose. Shouts of “Dall’s Porpoises!” alert the salon folks below.
A blank stare.
“All around us! Watch your head. There! Watch your head!”
-BAM!- The head hits the hatchway cover. “Ow!”
“Oops. You okay?”
“Oh jeez. Not again honey.”
“Yeah, gotta watch that companionway lid.”
“What are they?”
“Dall’s Porpoises. Up at the bow! You okay?”
“Yeah… Cool! Have you seen my camera?”
Eventually they tire of us and careen off to the north, leaving everyone feeling like the Prius driver who’s just been passed by a motorcycle gang. We all breathe out a sigh. Distantly a humpback whale flukes into the abyss, a bear finds a slimy beach snack, and the wind turns its attention in the direction we are headed.
Nobody noticed that the rain stopped as we neared the glaciers in the upper bay. The captain usually mentions this phenomenon to raise morale on dreary rainy days, since it does tend to give much needed credibility when it actually happens. The first iceberg of the trip is spotted. Folks scan for more after a few lines are hummed from THAT song in the Titanic movie. The bow watch spreads her arms wide.
“Oh, we’re sailing!” someone exclaims.
Yes, we are.
— Capt. Blain Anderson is a US Coast Guard licensed Master. He co-owns Sound Sailing with his wife Monique. Together, they operate S/V BOB, a 50’, four-cabin Catalina/Morgan in the waters between Sitka, Petersburg, Juneau and Glacier Bay. Trips are typically 7-10 day charters for up to 6 persons, and can be booked at (907) 887-9446, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on trips and adventures aboard Sailboat BOB are at soundsailing.com.
Published Spring 2017