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Safe and Sound in Sitka (with photos)

July 13, 2012

That last post came pouring out. All day its images and sounds rumbled, thunder in a room too small. When I opened the computer, the words shot like lightning.

Or so I thought.

In fact, I’d spent hours below. Back on deck the sun had finally set. An orange sky to the northwest, an open and breathless sea, slick; Murre still, her sails flapping like broken wings.  I dropped and stowed them out of pity. I unearthed the autopilot, installing it on the rail. I cooked a dinner of canned salmon in stewed tomatoes and cous cous. I drank a glass of red wine.

Then I switched on the anchor light and slept with an ease and depth usually reserved for the quietest of coves.

I wake with sunrise, three-thirty in the morning, and Murre and I begin the last thirty miles to Sitka under power.  Boredom and impatience almost immediate. How anyone can derive pleasure from a vessel that moves by engine is beyond me.

Slowly the land comes up full. Edgecumbe dark and heavy, its cape long and low and decorated with the Sitka fishing fleet out early to troll for Cojo. Then the ragged, still molten-looking San Lazarias Islands; then a period of threading rocky passes; then the bend in and behind Japonski.

And there it is, the town nestled in a dense forest of fir and dominated by the snowy peaks of Baranof, its centerpiece, a small, gray Russian Orthodox church with a bronze dome. It looks to be right where I had left it.

A cruise ship at anchor, and as we pass she is the Oosterdam. By some twist it has happened that the first ship we see in Sitka harbor is the first ship we saw on entering Kauai’s Nawiliwili ten months ago.

By noon we are moored within a city of fishing vessels. Sitka town has but eight-thousand residents, but her vast marina can accommodate over a thousand boats.

Dock lines out. Engine off. An intense quite interrupted only by the chortling of ravens and the whooshing flight of eagles. A cormorant. A sea lion. A seagull. None of these seen by us since leaving California.

2500 miles from Hanalei to Sitka. 22 days. Steady winds, if cold. No serious weather or mechanical failures. A pleasurable passage, even after adding all my complaining into the sum.

  1. Lavonna permalink
    July 13, 2012 8:13 pm

    Welcome Home Randall. Great to hear your voice and know you are on land, albeit not dry. Sleep well, Rand, you deserve a good snooze!

  2. Joel permalink
    July 13, 2012 10:40 pm

    Great to hear you crossed the big pond! What an accomplishment. Congratulations.

  3. Unintended permalink
    July 14, 2012 9:37 am

    Mom says thanks for the photos…

  4. Joe permalink
    July 14, 2012 3:32 pm

    Your voyage and your writings are all great accomplishments. I’ve come on late and enjoyed the latest crossing.

    Thank you for sharing your dream cruise with us.


    • July 19, 2012 4:26 pm

      Glad you enjoyed…I shivered. Kidding. Thanks for the compliments. Sometimes writing up the adventure is half the fun of having it.

  5. Lawrence Killingsworth permalink
    July 15, 2012 1:48 pm

    Welcome back to the mainland.
    Whew, glad we all made it up and around to Sitka, without running into any of that debris.

    • July 16, 2012 2:00 pm


      Thanks for the supportive comments throughout the passage.


  6. July 15, 2012 4:16 pm

    Hi Randall! Congratulations, you made it! and fast, wow!

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