A small craft advisory delayed our departure to Whittier and then kept us in the harbor for a day while we waited for the winds to die. The irony of this situation always occurs us – the wind is too strong for our sailboat, yet once the storm passes, we might not see more than a breeze and not sail at all. As always, we hoped that the wind would decrease from 25 mph and settle somewhere between 10 and 15 mph long enough to get us where we wanted to go.
Unfortunately for us, the wind settled at 10 from the East, the direction we have to go to leave Passage Canal and access Prince William Sound. Unless we wanted to spend hours tacking upwind, the motor would be required to get to an anchorage before dark. As we left the Canal, the wind had a northerly component and we raised the sales. The storm remained in the waves, however, and as we moved out into Wells Passage, the chop increased and it was too rough to keep wind in the sails. So we dropped the sails after a while and motored up Port Wells to North Granite Bay.
We hadn’t been to Granite Bay State Marine Park before. The clouds were low but we could appreciate the steep granite walls all around the bay. We’d been mentally prepared for a rainy weekend and thought this anchorage looked as good as any other to hang out, read, play games, and sleep late for a couple of days.
When the skies cleared the next day, we decided that it was also a good place to hike and explore by land and hang out in the sun. We also picked a couple of quarts of blueberries, and I kayaked around the island at the bay’s head. We had a beautiful day-and-a-half exploring the head of North Granite Bay.
The relaxation may have helped us to weather the mechanical storm that battered our return to Whittier. A few minutes after we started motoring away from our anchorage, the motor stalled and wouldn’t restart. We didn’t leave Granite Bay for another two hours while we considered every part of the fuel delivery. We dropped the anchor again and ate lunch half way through the process. Paul replaced the fuel filter eventually, a difficult task with the mount of the motor, and the motor started up again.
Another irony with sailing – the winds were good for a broad reach out of Port Wells but we didn’t dare turn off the motor. Paul did raise the jib to reduce the bouncing from the chop.
We were an hour out of Whittier when the motor stalled again and wouldn’t restart. Now Paul suspected water in the gas. He replaced the fuel filter again and stuck the fuel hose in the spare tank of gas. It took about an hour of starting and restarting the engine to run all the old fuel through. Then the motor ran strong back to the harbor. During that hour without a motor, an east breeze kept us in deep water in Passage Canal and we even raised the jib for when we could think about anything but the motor.
We’ve come a long way with this boat, especially this motor. No panicking this year (though strong language still has a role) when the motor stalls. No marital discord sparked by the frustration. Just calm problem solving and patience to find the problem. As the previous owner predicted, owning a boat has moved us beyond being a family to being a crew.
Here's the only other hiker/berry picker that we saw