June 19, 2016
Last night’s calm held through morning as we got underway. Sheep Bay is only a few short hours from Cordova at 8.5 Knots, and by mid-morning we pulled into the shallow channels that guard the approaches to the waterfront as bands of rain and gusting winds began to move in from the east and north. After so many days of incredible warm sunny weather, we were due a little rain. This is Alaska after all.
The fuel dock in Cordova is a basic affair, overhanging the water from a solidly built wooden pier. It rests on pilings and does not rise and fall with the tides, and as a result on low tides like today’s it can tower over the boats it serves. Fuel hoses are snaked down to our decks by the attendants, and we scramble up ladders to pay our bills. The wind continued to build as morning moved towards noon and did us no favors, but all the skippers performed brilliantly in getting their boats to the pier despite the difficult conditions.
By the time we moved down towards the harbor the wind had built considerably, gusting to near 60 knots with a driving horizontal rain. Again, strong work by the skippers put us all safely on the dock in spite of the weather, and with all the boats tied strongly to the dock we hunkered down to watch the fabulous storm blow through, sending dock carts tumbling end over end and flinging an extension ladder off the back of a seiner and into the harbor.
The locals here don’t seem to pay much heed to the weather, and a steady stream of gill net boats rumbled in and out of the harbor, making preparations for tomorrows fishing opener. A greenhorn (first year crew member) on a Seiner across the fairway from us took advantage of the storm to make his initiation a memorable one, leaping fully clothed from the bow of the boat into the freezing waters as a gust nearly touched 60 knots.
By evening the worst of the storm had passed and we trickled up the dock to find a hot meal and cold drinks, satisfied to have had such a great trip and come in to port at just the right time. It was certainly a memorable way to end this fabulous trip voyage, and just goes to show that whatever the weather there’s fun to be had in Alaska!