August 5, 2010

Crossing to Shelter Island

An absolutely gorgeous day once again in Alaska!! After spending the day house cleaning, finally got through all the small detail spring cleaning types of things, we decided to go out and enjoy the sun. As soon as Sarah got home from work we loaded up the gear, slapped the boats on the truck and headed out to Tee Harbor, a few short miles out the road. The tides were not exactly in our favor, but at the same time not too bad. We were only looking at about an 8 foot change from +6.3 to +14.2,         which is pretty mellow for this area, yet when paddling out of a cove that is flooding it takes a bit more work. Luckily our boats move smooth and quick, so we were out in a jiffy. Once on the outside the fore casted 10-15 knot winds appeared. Had been totally calm on land, but now we had a stiff breeze and a flooding current in the same direction. We decided on our point on Shelter Island and headed across Favorite Channel. Due to the afore mentioned conditions it was much like ferrying across a river. It took us about an hour to make the crossing, paddle up the coast a little and find a place to land.

This shot is looking back across to Lena Point.  We then had wonderful bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon that a friend had given us. Yes, to those who know Sarah and that she is a vegetarian, she does eat the smoked salmon, she even had a pretty healthy chunk of it. Then after ambling around a little on the beach, we decided that we should head back due to the late hour and diminishing sunlight. This was only an after work trip, a 3 hour tour shall we say, and we had no interest in being stuck on the island. We assumed that the return trip would be much calmer due to slack tide, but the wind kicked up a little as it tends to do in the evenings. This caused the water to stack up in the channel and produced some pretty good seas. We ferried across in 3-5 foot seas with the occasional larger 6+ foot roller. As hoped and expected the boats handled wonderfully and only operator misjudgment caused momentary concerns, mostly on my behalf. Ha ha ha. Water was pretty warm, but still didn't want to swim in it. The return crossing didn't have the flood tide to deal with, so it only took about 20 minutes or so and then we had to run up the coast to the harbor. Luckily this part was with wind and waves at our backs, so we made pretty good time. I even got to occasionally catch one of the larger rollers and practice surfing my boat. Needless to say, more practice is needed!!! Returned to Tee Harbor about 9:30 just as the sun dipped behind the mountains and headed home for a snack and some slumber. Unfortunately pictures of the second crossing are not available, my hands were busy and the Juneau side was in full twilight upon arrival.
This picture is looking north back towards Juneau from our
picnic spot on Shelter.
After living in Portland for so long and having to travel great distances to find any amount of true wilderness, being back in Juneau where I can have my boat in the water within a half hour from time of pulling it out of the garage or being on a trail headed up a mountain within 5 minutes of my house, still seems so unique to me. I love it!!!