The Chichagof Mine

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Chichagof Gold Mine Sänna

“I said the old mining camp would be nothing but trouble but we still went there. It took five days to find the mine, what happened afterwards will stay with me for the rest of my life. Then it turns out Dave knew about the rumours all along…” Henry

So we finally left Elfin Cove to head for Sitka. The route first took us east along the tide driven Lisianski Straits to the Pacific Ocean shoreline of Chichagof Island, then we laid a course southwards through the stunning outside passage – taking us between countless small islands that protected us from the worst of the long Pacific swells breaking along the outer coastline. The route, often used by Alaskan fishermen, afforded a number of secluded anchorages that we could use to day-sail our way south. It is difficult to find words to describe to you this spectacular journey, this part of Alaska that appears in no tourist guide or cruise itinerary yet must easily rank as one of the most scenic passages we’ve made since leaving the Mediterranean twelve years ago…

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THE WILDERNESS THAT IS CHICHAGOF

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Chichagof Island

 

“Get this… Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska is officially the most unbelievable place on earth. In a recent poll conducted by myself I unequivocally decided there’s not even a close comparison with any other location… and when the poll was taken there was no one around to argue with me anyway. We were all alone, not anyone, nobody even remotely close-by for nearly fifty miles…” Dave

Also consider this… Chichagof Island is nearly the size of Wales back in the UK. There are only four human settlements of any size… Hoonah, Elfin Cove, Pelican and Tenakee Springs of which Hoonah, by far the largest, has only eight hundred and eighty inhabitants. There is also the mysterious Chichagof Gold Mine which no one is sure still exists or not… it’s a ghostly place that only sometimes appears out of the grey mists. These small townships are foremost Tlingit First Nation settlements although those Americans down in the lower forty-eight states who decide enough is enough head this way too. You know the type, pony-tailed with platted silver beards, red-necks toting firearms with enough firepower to take down encircling siege law-enforcement forces dedicated to protecting wider society… they all head for Alaska at some point. So let me tell you just a little more about this wild part of the world that is Chichagof…

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Too Many Eggs and No Toblerone

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Sänna arriving in Prince Rupert

Finally arriving in Prince Rupert

Marie finally confessed she’d hidden chocolate Toblerone on the boat to eat when alone on watch during the night. I was devastated. When I found out, having at last made landfall in Prince Rupert, she giggled finding the whole thing amusing.

I myself confess to an inherent chocolate addiction and usually stock Sänna with copious amounts for long passages, but on this occasion I’d decided to try and abstain. It was either that or another trip back to the hypnotist. Marie doesn’t usually eat chocolate and I can’t get my head around why she suddenly decided to become a secret-eater during our twenty two days at sea. We finally made port much further north than we’d originally planned, departing Hanalei Bay on the wonderful island of Kauai in Hawaii for Victoria, on the southern side of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. But we didn’t plan for the vicious storm that crossed our path six hundred miles out from the Canadian coast.

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How To Drown Yourself In A Bucket

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The Late Johnny Capes

My father, who’s been somewhat of a rogue in his time, tells a remarkable story of a man he knew in the navy. A chap by the name of Johnny Capes. My old man insists that he and Capes were great friends… but then, over the years, I’ve learned to close one ear whenever my father is telling a tale. Even so, the story of Capes’ amazing escape from a sunken submarine is truly incredible… and nearly lead to my own drowning when I tried the same technique many years later…

You see, Johnny Capes was the sole survivor of a British submarine… he escaped through a hatch from a submerged depth of 180 feet with just a bucket on his head.

In 1941, during World War Two, HMS Perseus struck an Italian mine and was lying critically damaged on the seabed in the Mediterranean, just six miles off the coast of the Greek island of Cephalonia. Not only did the magnificent Capes survive to reach the surface, he then swam the six miles to Cephalonia, was found and rescued by Cephalonian Partisans, lived wild in the mountains and fought with the Partisans against Italian occupiers for nearly two years before escaping to Turkey to find his long way home. Tough stuff eh?

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New Website Launch

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Marie and I have just published our new website for our ongoing sailing circumnavigation. We’d like to keep those of you who wish to follow our round-the-world adventure more regularly updated.

There is lots more information and photo images but the prime reason for the change is to allow us easier access to amend and update our site from more remote locations when internet access isn’t so good.

We’re sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy our site and recommend that you check it out at…

http://www.sanna-uk.com

For your interest Sänna is now located in the centre of Vancouver at Bayshore West Harbour, having sailed south from Alaska throughout this incredibly warm summer stacked with tons of sunshine… an unusual occurrence in this part of the world. We will soon depart British Columbia because of Customs time limits in Canada to find someplace south of the US border in Puget Sound to spend the winter. US Customs & Immigration are far more forgiving than their Canadian counterparts when it comes to foreign flagged vessels…

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Sailing on Thin Ice

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Ice flows from the John Hokins Glacier

Ice from John Hopkins Glacier blocking Tarr Inlet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little did we think we’d see anything like this. From Hoonah, where we’d overwintered, it’s a mere twenty eight sea miles across Alaska’s Icy Straights to the entrance of Glacier Bay.

For those of you who don’t know Alaska well, Glacier Bay is a hefty fifty mile inlet with deep jagged fjords, where remote high mountains meet a shoreline carved out by numerous tidal glaciers. Tidal glaciers are ones that come right down to the sea to calve off huge slabs of towering ice and, incredibly, no less than eleven enormous glaciers grind their way southwards within Glacier Bay. They are spectacular and exciting to see… but the floating bergs and ice fields can be hazardous to a sailboat such as Sänna

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On Matters of Laundry

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Getting your whites whiter than white is no mean feat when living onboard a sailing boat and crossing oceans. It’s not just a question of your favourite wash powder brand…

 

Let’s face it, we stink! Well, no, not really, but most people assume we do and that we disguise our rancid body smells by using exotic lotions, just like the olden days during the Middle Ages. You see, we don’t have the modern day laundry appliances onboard Sänna that are found in even the most humblest of homes nowadays.

Whenever we get into any landlubber conversation with anyone remotely interested in how we manage our lives onboard a sailing boat, the first question we are asked in almost every instance is “How do you do your laundry?”…

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