West Coast of Baranoff Island
One of the final items on our “Alaska to do” list was just down the road from us. Just a 20 mile sail is all it would take, and sailing we got to do – with the sails flying within minutes of us leaving the harbor. This on a day that no real wind was in the forecast, but the greater Pacific Ocean likes to do things its own way and provided a perfectly comfortable breeze from a fair direction. As our transit progressed, and after turning away from the wind, it would increase pushing us along at an even greater speed. A beam-reach (wind on our rear quarter) is not our normal point of sail, but we knew how to handle it and did. Eventually a reef was set into the sails as the wind continued to pick up pace, stirring up the sea into very confused waters. By the time we were in the final mile of our journey we had jibed a couple times to gain a good bearing on our final approach – between rocks and islands – and into a known anchorage near Goddard Hot Springs.
Goddard is an extremely picturesque location, with man made log huts covering our very own private tub overlooking the very seas we had just sailed in. It is hard to find a reason not to like this place, so we stayed two nights and enjoyed the tubs each evening.
Once we left Goddard we moved pretty much every day to start working our way down very rugged west coast of Baranoff Island. Only the Pacific Ocean was further to our west, and we spent our time out in the larger swells of it to transit from one location to another. I had hopped this would provide us a little wind to sail, but instead we were rewarded with thick fog from anchorage to anchorage. It would, to no surprise, clear completely the moment we got to our daily destination, but only for a few minutes. After a taste of blue sky and sunshine the fog would start wisping in through the inlet, or over the mountain, providing one hell of a show during our post-sail happy hour.
The anchorages along Baranoff Island are top-notch, probably because no one comes out here, and they did seem to get better as we progressed south over a few days time. At the southern end of Baranoff Island we spent our final night at the head of the simply named Puffin Bay. It was one of the nicest little coves we have experienced in a very long time. It even came with a big brown bear on the shoreline not 30 minutes after we dropped the hook. This being the first bear on land we have seen in the wild this year. True! As if some joke is being played on us, we almost never see bear in the wild in Alaska. Go figure.