Join Date: Apr 2007
Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts
Rep Power: 8
What doesn't kill you....
My wife and I had been looking forward all year to our planned 3-4 week cruise SW out of Seward, AK. Our departure was delayed a week waiting on weather to improve but once out we enjoyed awesome scenery and wx for the first week. As we got into the Nuka Bay area (N59 31 W150 35) the forecast was for W to SW winds to 35 knots for the coastal area we were in. Our two crusing guides for the area list Pilot Harbor (N59 34 W150 30) as "the most secure anchorage in Nuka Bay". Hmmm, it has west exposure but a few years of cruising here has taught me that the wx can be completely different only a few miles inland and with the cruising guides liking Pilot Harbor we decided to hole up there for the two days the wind was supposed to blow.
Pilot Harbor is beautiful, the preferred anchorage is between a couple of islets along the north side, mud bottom and we anchoraged in 60-70'. I have a 45 pound Delta with 230' of 5/16 chain. Winds remained from the west 12-15 with the occasional gust to 20ish. The second day (forecast to be the worst day) winds were 15-20 sustained but we were holding well. Early our third day the winds were gustier with puffs to 25 or so. About mid morning I noticed the east islet was closer. Hmmmm. I got the chain for the #2 anchor (25 pound QCR) out of the bilge and rigged shackles so I could use it if needed. Another big gust came along and we drug a bit more. Grrrr. Forecast for that day was SW 35 subsiding in the PM to 25 then SW 15 for the night. We decided to leave Pilot Harbor to do a bit of sightseeing and check Quartz Bay (N59 30 W150 32) which our friends who have cruised this area for 35 years consider a "hurricane hole". If Quartz didn't look good we'd go on around to Surprise Bay (N59 30 W150 29).
As we motored along the winds were gusty and variable in direction, veering as much as 45 degrees at times with gusts into the low 30s. As we crossed from Beauty Bay to Quartz I noticed the volts were showing 15+ (hmmmm). Just a moment later the Admiral reported smelling smoke/something hot. A quick check in the engine compartment indicated a very hot alternator (I could smell hot wood). Decided to anchor in Quartz to sort things out, I was very concerned about fire. About that same time we were hit with a gust to 46knots followed by sustaing 30+ knots of wind from WNW. Admiral stood by with a fire extinguisher until we got into the head of Quartz where we anchored. Winds were very gusty and variable, williwaw like. Anchor was holding but we were not in a good position. Dropped the hook in 80', ended up with visible bottom only 50 yards or so behind the boat, tide was low at the time. Obvious I had an overcharge issue, electrical system is my weakest subject.
Winds picked up and we got some gusts estimated at over 40, one of which caused us to drag. I was worried that continuing running the engine would cause a risk of fire (sailing out of the bay wasn't a choice, I single hand for the most part, these conditions were beyond what I wanted to attempt) but decided we had no choice since we were dragging onto the beach.
We retrieved the Delta and I quickly prepped the QCR for use. The admiral manned the helm as we moved slightly upwind of the original anchoring point (limited in how far we could move due to depth) and first let the QCR go, had the Admiral steer to the right for lateral separation and let go the Delta with all of its chain as we started drifting back That little QCR was taking the entire load. It has about 50' of 1/4 chain with 5/8 rope but it stuck well and held. I eased the QCR rode until strain was being taken by the chain rode of the Delta.
We held. About then a very nice gentlemen in a Folkboat came into the bay and called on the VHF asking if we were okay, he had noticed the "anchoring drill". I explained our predicament and he offered to standby a while which I thanked him for.
We experienced some very strong winds/gusts over the next hour or so. Some gusts probably 50knots or better. Little "dust devils" of spray marching across the bay, wave tops being blown off by the wind, lost my favorite hat...but the anchors held.
I figured out that pulling the field wire "shut off" the alternator which allowed us to run the engine without overheating the alternator or frying batteries. When conditions calmed we moved to Surprise for the night then headed back to Seward over the next two days with absolutely awesome weather and forecast for more good wx to come. Grrrrr
Not so thrilled with my Delta anchor. This is 3 times now that I have dragged. The first set in Quartz may have been on some kelp since a lot came up when we retrieved it. Very impressed with the QCR. Will probably get a Mantus to replace the Delta.
In harbor now waiting on my new Balmar alternator, regulator and Serpentine belt kit to arrive then we're going to get back out there.
Pacific Seacraft "Crealock" 37 #312
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