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Featured

ADVENTURES

ALASKA: 2015 LEG 6 – NEWCOMBE HARBOR TO PATTERSON

Not a breath of wind disturbed the surface and the width of Petrel Passage lay flat as a shimmering mirror. Bisected neatly by the bows of the fleet the water curled away from us, our wakes perfect v’s pointing south from shore to shore. Gulls perched motionless on dark drifting logs caught in tangled mats of kelp. Excepting our own forward progress through the unmoving tableau, time could very well have stopped, leaving the world locked in this one quiet moment.

Thrashing ahead in the water broke the spell, and it wasn’t long until we were able to discern the form of a surly eagle whom, having misjudged the size of his intended prey, found himself attached by the talons to a fish no doubt rivaling his own bulk. Gravity being what it is, the overreaching bird found himself suddenly thrust from his own preferred medium into that of his prey, with rather drastic results. There are few more pathetic sights than that of a normally regal winged creature awkwardly flopping its way towards shore like a drunk on a carousel. Eventually the embarrassed bird clawed his way back up the rocks, and, having lost his fish, sat morosely as no fewer than seven of his compatriots circled around screeching irreverently at his predicament. Not wanting to exacerbate his humiliation we keep off shore, soon making a hard turn to port to enter a small group of islands.

The northern coast of British Colombia is riddled with narrow passages, deep bays, and complex inlets, and nearly all of them are packed with innumerable tiny islands, nearly all of which have names. While mathematicians are not generally famed for their hardy and adventurous nature, at least one was probably present on the expedition which was responsible for the mapping and naming the islands of the region. There are islands named for every person they knew and every ship that ever sailed and every possible physical attribute (who could stand another Rocky Island?). In this instance mathematician finally got his way. And so we found ourselves sailing between Sine, Cosine, Tangent, and Azimuth Islands, separated by a serpentine narrows from Logarithm Point.

Luckily our calculations were correct, and we passed through without incident, and soon after found ourselves slipping into the narrow entrance of Patterson Inlet, past the weathered hand-carved sign tacked crookedly to a hemlock. With the anchorage to ourselves we had room to spread out, and soon different members of the flotilla could be seen kayaking beneath the cascades which flow into the inlet or exploring on foot the silent moss draped forest.

Aquila’s crew, Mike and Lana, dinghied over to join the crew of Deception for a sumptuous dinner as a heavy rain began to fall. With full bellies, the thrum of the rain soon had us yawning, and as the last light faded from the sky, all across the bay cabin lights winked out one by one.

 

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